Bio: Following her career as a soloist with The Royal Ballet, England, Hilary Cartwright became a director, teacher, coach and stager. She’s been teaching Yoga for Dancers for the past 20 years, after opening White Cloud Studio in NYC. Daphne Fernberger is a Level 7 student at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. For more information about Daphne, go to www.hilarycartwright.com
Dancers of all genres (and women in general) yearn for long, lean legs, and even more so, injury-free bodies. One important element to achieving both of these things is stretching—correctly, that is. With the help of Hilary Cartwright, DS brings you three exercises that will stretch every angle of your hamstrings, resulting in beautifully toned, strong legs.
BEFORE FIRST STRETCH
Before stretching, warm up the body with aerobic exercise (like light jogging) for five to 10 minutes. Then allow 10 seconds for each stretch on a continuous exhale, recover and relax. Repeat all five to six times on both legs.
Hamstring stretch #1
Begin in first position with right hand on the barre. Bring right leg into passé at the front of the knee, then extend into front attitude while the left leg pliés. Grab the foot from underneath the heel with the left hand and extend the right leg, while simultaneously straightening the left leg. Continue to grow while leaning back slightly toward the barre.
1. Relax neck.
2. Keep eyes focused above toes.
3. Engage abs.
Hamstring Stretch #2
Start in first position with the left hand on the barre. Bring the right leg into retire at the front of the knee, then extend into front attitude while the left leg pliés. Using the right hand, grab the foot from underneath the heel and slowly straighten the right leg, while keeping the left bent. Continue to slowly open the right leg to second.
1. Keep right hip back.
2. Keep back straight.
Hamstring Stretch #3
Start on all fours. Push the heels back and straighten the legs and arms (like downward dog position) with feet slightly turned out. Keep focus between hands and push shoulders and ribs toward the pelvis. Bend right leg, then straighten it toward the back wall in a scooping motion. Slowly raise it into penchée position, keeping the hips parallel to the floor. Lift up and back over the standing leg to feel stretch.
1. Push back from arms.
2. Drop active hip.
3. Keep focus between hands.
Go to dancespirit.com/ to see Daphne demonstrate these stretches. Just click on “Videos.”
Photography by Matt Karas. Hair and makeup by Angela Huff for Mark Edward, Inc.