This special blog post on Pilates is a peek into the life of a professional ballet dancer. Berengere, the author & the beauty in photographs, is a professional ballet dancer & ballet teacher. She trained in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, NYC. Berengere works and lives in New York & Europe. Among her other skills she is also a Romana's Pilates teacher. I was lucky to make friends with this lovely french lady while studying Pilates in True Pilates New York and doing dance training at Peridance, Capezio NYC. Considering her expertise and experience in both professional dance & Pilates I thought it would be great to hear her side of story...Today she is writing a guest post on what authentic Pilates can do for dancers.
Pilates & Dance
Author Bérengère Condomines
As dancers, taking care of our body becomes a necessity. It comes from eating appropriate food, getting a good amount of sleep but also from choosing an adapted cross-training that will allow you to improve your technique and prevent future injuries. I chose Pilates.
I personally started Pilates to recover faster and stronger from a tibia stress fractures injury.
I was going from classes to rehearsals at Alvin Ailey, NYC. I was dancing and being on my legs for 8 hours a day. Doctors told me there is nothing that can be done about stress fractures, that I would have to stop all my activities for three to six months.
I started physical therapy but it was not enough, so I thought about Pilates. First of all, it helped me to heal faster and correct my bad dance habits but thanks to Pilates I was able to stay in shape during my time off dancing. When I started back dancing, my center was stronger, I knew how to use my legs correctly and positioned my feet better. It was a success!
I’ve never stopped Pilates since then and I’m now teaching the Classical Method. Before or after a long day of dancing as well as in between classes or rehearsals Pilates is always welcomed and appreciated.
Doing Pilates is learning to know and understand your body. Classical Pilates work is based on controlling the body through the center, the deep core muscles that we call ‘power house’. Dancers have a tendency to move from the extremities by over using their legs, their hipflexors, their arms, which can create injuries at times. With Pilates you build a strong center that make your body more efficient.
During a Pilates lesson, each exercise is planned to compensate the other, in order to lengthen and strengthen the muscles. You will improve your balance, work on your extensions and turnout but also learn to control your hyper flexibility (especially knees and back for dancers). It’s important for us to understand our flexibility and use it correctly. Knowing the limits of our knee extensions or how to back bend by lifting the spine towards the sky and not compressing in the vertebrae for instance.
Another fascinating thing about Pilates is learning how to work on the symmetry and alignment of our body. Working towards a body with both sides equal by developing the weaker parts.
When I practice Classical Pilates, I find the same concentration and precision that dance requires. After the lesson my body and mind are realigned, energized, I feel stronger.
Written by Berengere Condomines.
Introduction by Vlada Korolova, The Pilates Studio Dublin.
The Pilates Studio Dublin highly recommends Pilates to all dancers no matter the dance style, young and mature, be it a hobby or a profession. As dancers are naturally body aware, just a few sessions go along way. To make the most out of sessions we strongly advise getting a buddy & investing into Reformer based Duets as opposed to big classroom scenario.