Dance, Dancers and Pilates

Why do dancers use Pilates equipment?

Using Pilates equipment in the studio strengthens, lengthens and tones the muscles. At the same time it also improves posture and increases flexibility and balance. Hardly surprising then that, long before Pilates was known to a wider audience, dancers were the first to discover it. Indeed such legendary figures of the dance world as Martha Graham and George Balanchine were among Joseph Pilates’ most devoted clients at his original studio, in New York.

Today, the British ballerina Darcy Bussell is a great advocate of Pilates and has written a book extolling its virtues (‘Pilates for Life’ by Darcy Bussell, Penguin Books). ‘As a young dancer I was very supple and needed to know how to control my body,’ she says.

‘Pilates was an excellent way for me to learn how to do this. On the whole, dancers use this method because it is the best way to exercise every muscle in the body without over-developing anything and creating bulk muscle.’

Dancers suffer multiple injuries and here Pilates is also useful, helping to pinpoint injured areas and focusing specific exercises on the damaged muscle. Pilates can also help to focus the mind and improve the mental state during recovery. Therefore, using Pilates equipment is a key part of many dancers strategy for injury recovery and prevention.

Such is the popularity of Pilates amongst dancers and the dance world, a desire to conduct research into this field has arisen. One such small study gave dancers a workout sequence of 12 Pilates abdominal exercises. They were asked to conduct the workout three times a week for 4 months. Afterwards, the researchers found that the Pilates exercises had not only increased core strength, but also increased abdominal endurance. You can read more about this study at: the Texas A & M Dance Program.

Dancers at Pilates Central

Most of the teachers at Pilates Central are themselves former dancers. At some point they have used Pilates to avoid and/or recover from dance-related injuries. As a result, they are happy to share their experiences. ‘Dancing is all about aesthetics’, says Peter Ottevanger, the head teacher of Pilates Central and himself a former dancer. ‘So, while dancers have to be strong, they can’t be bulky. Pilates is all about gaining strength without bulk.’

If you are a professional dancer, or an amateur who enjoys some form of dance, why not contact us to find out how we can help you address current issue and avoid future injuries. It would be a pleasure to help you!