Magazine article Pointe

On the Mat

Magazine article Pointe

On the Mat

Article excerpt

Pilates or Gyrotonic: Which do you need?

With today's diverse repertoire, ballet dancers need even more abdominal strength, flexibility and range of motion than they can build in class. That's why Pil?tes and Gyrotonic crosstraining has become standard in many pre-professional training programs and summer intensives.

Many dancers find both Pil?tes and Gyrotonic helpful. While each system uses special equipment, they also have accessible and helpful mat work.

Reining In, Flowing Through

Dancers with weak core muscles often turn to Pil?tes mat work to strengthen their abdominals, back, gluteus maximus and hamstrings. A strong core increases stability and helps to correct the body's alignment. "Many ballet students don't have as much control as they want of their limbs. Pil?tes helps them rein in," says Phoebe Higgins, Pil?tes instructor at the School of American Ballet's Pil?tes program.

Gyrokinesis, the term for Gyrotonic mat work, taps the body's natural move- ment to help dancers balance their tight and ultra-flexible parts. "It finds freedom of movement in the body and builds the

strength to support that freedom," says Debra Rose, executive director of San Francisco Gyrotonic and a former dancer with Alonzo King's Lines Ballet. Though the exercises vary, there is always continuous movement flow and coordination.

The Core At Center Stage

Pilates mat work uses tightly controlled movements, with exercises performed on the back, stomach, side and standing. From the first exercise, the Hundreds, the abdominals are engaged. Lying on the back with legs in the air, core muscles are activated as the arms pump vigorously 100 times to increase the heart rate and awaken the abdominals.

If you are a dancer with a weak lower back- which often implies underdeveloped abdominals- Pil?tes will help build the core muscles to maintain a neutral curve. …

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