Ballet as a form of whole-body integration

by Trevor Aung Than on August 21, 2012

This week I’ve had the pleasure of teaching conditioning classes at the West Australian Ballet centre here in Perth. The centre is the oldest ballet company in Australia (Est. 1952) and one of the premier ballet centres in Australia, employing 35 full-time dancers.

From my point of view with planning the content for the classes, I had to ask myself – what do I teach the dancers?

They’re already super-flexible so they don’t need more flexibility.

They’re already strong – how do I add strength to their systems?

Ballet is a great form of ‘whole-body’ movement and by the recent growth in popularity of ‘Ballet Barre’ classes and the like, the general population thinks so as well.

In my mind, I approached the classes with trying to add more stability to the body, to stabilize their movements through loading the fascia and connective tissues. Therein to stabilize their bodies within their applicable range of movement – not to increase flexibility which might actually add to their existing problems.

How to do this?

Movements performed under load would be ideal. The movement training tools such as the ViPR and twist toners would be perfect in providing resistance to dynamic movements.

What movements?

So why not just replicate ballet movements with the ViPR or another tool? – wouldn’t that be the ideal? The problem with this type of specific training is that performing sport or dance-specific movements in a different context under load (usually this is done with dumbbells or ankle weights) is that often returning to the original movement is detrimental. I talk more about this in my blogpost on subconscious play and games.

After my first session on Monday I definitely learnt a thing or two about human movement (yes, even though I did work for the circus before!!). The grace and flexibility of the dancers is pretty amazing to watch. And I’ve decided for tomorrow’s class to segregate the group into boys and girls. In the normal class scenario I would hesitate to do this but in the ballet realm with the different functions of what the female dancers have to do versus the male dancers, it should help with tailoring specific exercises to the groups.

I’m excited!

More to come following tomorrow’s session……

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Xin August 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I’m glad so much thought has gone into how you can best help your clients! They’re lucky to have you.

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Trevor Aung Than August 23, 2012 at 8:49 am

Thanks Xin. I’m lucky to have you guys too ; )

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