Watch This
National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina being amazing (via Instagram)

Yes, we all know dancers are strong. But sometimes it takes a truly epic workout video to remind us JUST HOW INSANELY STRONG they actually are.

Behold, National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina's oh-so-casual pre-class exercise:

Keep reading... Show less
Your Body
Samuel Melnikov lifting weights to build strength for partnering (photo by Jonah Rosenberg)

Safe partner-work demands you put in some time at the gym. Peter Frame—former principal dancer with New York City Ballet and founder of the School of American Ballet's strength training program—says, "Even advanced dancer forget about placement once they're lifting. They're doing the work, but you'll see shoulders and weight distribution out of whack." Want centered, controlled partnering? Grab a mat and dumbbells to try Frame's top three pre-partnering exercises.


Photos by Jonah Rosenberg. Modeled by Samuel Melnikov.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Courtesy MSG Entertainment

Watching the Radio City Rockettes perform a dazzling array of precision dance routines in their annual Christmas Spectacular show is a tradition many New Yorkers use to welcome the winter season. But how do these leggy ladies spend their off-season and what do they do to maintain their pristine technique, strength, and stamina when they're not on stage? We caught up with the Rockettes a few months before the opening night of the Christmas Spectacular to find out exactly what they do to keep those legendary leg kicks year round.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Former comp kid (and 2013 DS Cover Model Search winner!) Hayden Hopkins grew up training in Seattle, WA, cultivating her huge social media presence along the way—she has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram alone. The 20-year-old recently landed her dream job: dancing in Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas show Mystère. DS had her keep a diary last spring to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on what dancing in a Cirque show is really like.

—Courtney Bowers

Keep reading... Show less
Your Body

We’ve all heard it: the chorus of cracking joints that comes with the first plié of class. A lot of dancers treat barre as their daily warm-up, but a ballerina jumping into class cold is kind of like the Tin Man trying to move without his oil can. Conditioning expert and former professional ballet dancer Rachel Hamrick has four pre-barre exercises that will get your body ready for that aggressive dégagé combo.

You’ll need: an FLX ball or a medicine ball

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Vinyasa Flow

Purpose: Yoga is a great way to prep your body for ballet class. The repetitive nature of vinyasa flow gets your blood pumping and your body temperature rising, helping to gradually increase your range of motion.

1. Begin in a full plank position with the FLX ball between your ankles. Your body should form a straight line, starting at your heels and continuing through your neck. Think of pulling your belly button towards your spine and rolling your shoulders back and down. Hold this plank position for 10 slow counts.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Hamrick says: “Throughout the vinyasa flow, squeeze your inner thigh muscles together to hold the ball in place. This will generate extra heat and keep you from hyper-extending your knees.”

2. Untuck your toes and lift your chest so that your back arches. Squeeze your quads so that only the tops of your feet touch the floor, and think of lifting your chest up and forward to avoid crunching into your lower back. Hold this upward dog position for 10 slow counts.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

3. Lift your hips toward the ceiling so that your body forms an upside-down “V” shape. Reach your heels toward the floor while keeping your spine lengthened and your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this downward dog position for 10 counts. Repeat the entire sequence 3 times.

 

Lizard

Purpose: This position stretches your hips’ external rotators so you can maximize your turnout throughout class.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Get into a low lunge, with your right leg forward at a 90-degree angle and your left leg stretched behind you. Place both forearms on the inside of your right thigh so that they’re parallel with your right foot. Think of trying to get your chest as flat and long as possible. Hold for 30 counts and repeat on the other side.

Hamrick says: “To increase the stretch, think of hugging your right knee into your midline, rather then letting it open to the side.”

 

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Single-Leg-Switch Abdominals

Purpose: Working your core before class will prepare you to engage those same key muscles during balances and pirouettes.

1. Lie on your back with the FLX ball between your shoulder blades. Bring your right knee in toward your chest and curl your upper body so your knee is in line with your forehead. Place your hands on the top of your right shin, keeping your elbows wide and your shoulders down. Extend your left leg on a high diagonal and pull your belly button in.

2. Switch your legs so that the left knee pulls in toward your chest and your right leg extends on a high diagonal. Do 20 repetitions.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Hamrick says: “Think of pushing your knee into your hands to help you engage your core.”

Modification: Scissor Abdominals

For a more advanced abdominal warm-up, straighten both legs and hold your top leg from behind your calf or thigh. Keep both legs straight as you switch legs. Do 20 repetitions.

 

 

Toe Roll

Purpose: This exercise strengthens the intrinsic muscles on the bottom of your feet, prepping them for everything from relevés to grands jetés.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your left knee slightly so you can place the FLX ball beneath your left toes with your heel resting on the ground.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

2. Straighten your left knee so that your left arch shapes around the ball as it rolls away from you. Push down on the ball with your toes and arch as you hold the extended position for 10 counts. Repeat 15 times with each foot.

Hamrick says: “Keep your toes straight throughout this exercise to train your foot not to knuckle when it points.”

 

Dance News

There's been a lot of talk lately about how much athleticism is involved in dance. Clips like Harry Shum Jr.'s "Exploring Parallels with Sport and Dance" and Misty Copeland's kick-butt commercial for Under Armour have got people outside the dance world marveling at dancers' incredible strength and stamina. Of course, all this discussion leaves us wondering: How are people just now realizing that this is a thing?! I mean, dancers being athletic isn't new. Nevertheless, we appreciate the new-found recognition.

(gif via Huff Post Healthy Living)

So here's another video to throw into the mix: Simon Ata is an Australian break-dancer whose workout is nothing short of insane.

Exhibit A–Z: He does pushups with his feet off the floor...

The video of his entire workout routine is quite beautiful to watch (he's a dancer, after all), and it demonstrates that dancers aren't necessarily as in shape as other athletes—they go way above and beyond that.

Check it out:

Style Lab

Dancers pack a lot of gear—leotards, tights, shorts, tops, skirts, sweaters and tons of shoes. And that doesn't even include workout clothes! To lighten your load, check out these crossover pieces that work anywhere.

Your Body

Surely you’ve heard of Physique 57 by now. The barre-based classes—held at six studios, including locations in NYC, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills—are frequented by celebrities such as Kelly Ripa, Zooey Deschanel and Emmy Rossum. And the stars are heading to Physique for a reason: The 57-minute classes hit every muscle in your body, and they do so without the use of any crazy-heavy weights, which is a plus for young dancers. “It can be dangerous to lift heavy weights during adolescence,” says dancer, personal trainer and NYC-based Physique 57 instructor Jessica Rochwarger. “The pressure can fuse your growth plates, which can ultimately stunt your growth.”

These four exercises—all Physique 57 staples—focus on the muscle groups you may be neglecting during your dance classes. “They work your opposing muscles and complement the body parts you’re already working,” Jessica says. “They’ll help your body become more balanced, which will make you a stronger, better dancer.”

What You'll Need: A yoga mat, a playground ball and a chair.

 

The Pretzel

What you're working: your seat, hips and waistline.

Begin seated with your left leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you and your right leg at a 90-degree angle behind you, keeping your right thigh as far behind you as possible. Your hands can be on the floor in front of you for stability—or, to make the exercise harder, bring them into prayer position in front of your chest.

Keeping your abs engaged, raise your right leg slightly off the floor and pulse it up and down 20 to 30 times.

With a flexed foot, press your right leg backward, slightly extending your leg, 20 to 30 times, continuing to sit as upright as possible.

Jessica says: "The key is to keep pressing your front hip down."

The Curtsy

What you're working: your thighs, core, back and balance.

Start in plié with your feet in a comfortable first position and your hands resting lightly on a chair in front of you. Lean your body forward at a 45-degree angle.

Lift your right heel, then slide your right leg back about two feet along the floor, crossing behind your body so your right foot is in line with your left shoulder.

Jessica says: “You’re working your turnout muscles. And the lower you go, the more you’re working your thighs.”

Keep your back heel high and your front foot flat as you plié further toward the floor. Keep your hips and shoulders squared and your front knee in line with your ankle.

Do 30 to 60 pulses up and down and then repeat on the other side.

The Superwoman

What you're working: your abs.

In a seated position, place a cushion (like a rolled-up yoga mat) behind your lower back and lower your torso onto it, keeping your head, neck and shoulders lifted. Point your feet and place them on a ball in front of you with your knees bent and your arms lifted by your sides.

Inhale as you extend your arms and legs and lean backward, pushing

the ball away from your body.

Keeping your navel pulled down, exhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat 30 to 60 times.

Jessica says: “When you return to starting position, don’t sit all the way up. If you come all the way up, you’re using momentum, not muscle. Keep your abs hugged in tight.”

The Deli Slicer

What you're working: your seat, hamstrings, and obliques.

Lie down on your right side with your right arm extended under your head and your left palm on the floor in front of your chest for support. Bend your knees in toward your chest at a 90-degree angle to your upper body. Lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees on the ground, your feet together and your shoulders and hips in line with each other. Press your left palm into the floor to engage your oblique muscles.

Straighten your left leg, pressing it up and out behind you on a diagonal as far back as possible while keeping your hips stacked and abdominals engaged. Then bring your leg back in. Think of your top knee sliding along the inside of your bottom leg like a deli slicer as you bend and straighten the top leg. Repeat 15 times slowly and 20 times quickly, then switch sides.

Jessica Rochwarger is an instructor at Physique 57 in NYC. She holds a degree in dance from Barnard College and is a NASM-certified personal trainer and AFAA-certified group trainer.

Photography by Nathan Sayers

 

 

 

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored