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Aerobic Training


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I am hoping some of you can provide some tips. My dd has been blessed with several great parts in this years NC production. Something she is encountering that has not appeared before is her lack of aerobic endurance when performing some of the more intense variations, sometimes back to back. I have heard running is not good for dancers, but what else would be a viable way to gain aerobic endurance. She realizes just doing the variations repeatedly will help, but is there another form of exercise she could be doing?

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As longtime posters to this board can recall, I'm a big disbeliever in the idea that ballet is not an aerobic exercise when studied above a certain technical level. Class should be plenty of exercise, and will be especially beneficial if the student breathes freely, and doesn't take partial breaths, as so many are accustomed to doing. A lot of kids just half-hold their breath when dancing something difficult, and thus end up gasping, or even faint at the end.

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I asked my dd's teacher if she was breathing correctly. The teacher then really spent alot of time with my dd and the class on correct breathing techniques. She felt my dd was taking full breaths except possibly when doing something very difficult as you, Major Mel, suggested. My dd then asked the question, "How do you breathe fully and have the expression that you are enjoying what you are doing (not the plastered smile) while at the same time getting full breaths?" Is this something they learn over time as they progress in difficulty of variations? Can they hurt themselves if not learned correctly?

Edited by ekeetaxi
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Yes, it's a skill you pick up over the years. It helps if she plays a wind instrument, or sings. Also, using the Alexander Technique for dancers can help. Don't take the actor's version, I did that and nearly suffocated when I tried to dance using it.

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not sure if im allowed to post here because im not a parent BUT i thought id offer my advice. recently this same thing came up with my instructors and i. they explained that its a good idea to walk briskly on a treadmill with an incline. its just important to stretch afterwards so your muscles dont tighten up. i was told it will greatly improve my stamina and keep your heart strong and healthy!

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knock, knock--


My son is just ten, but in addition to ballet, he swims. I think it has been great for his ballet, as it really works his core muscles, and swimming is also an exercise that, like ballet, lengthens muscles. It is also less impactful on the knees and other joints than running or aerobics.


It is certainly an aerobic workout for him--he swims for an hour to an hour and a half five times per week.

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Thanks for the ideas. What is the Alexander Technique, Mr. Johnson? I think swimming would be a great way also. We just can't figure out when she would find the time with school and 25 hours of dance a week.

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Swimming would be great for a boy, but I think it could build some upper body muscle that would not be admired in a girl ballet dancer. It is excellent cardio conditioning, though.


The treadmill on an incline presents the same problem as running - the girls are just too turned out.


I've really spent a lot of time observing over the years, and realizing with my own child (now 15), that a certain amount of cross-training is beneficial. I think, in particular it is essential to helping ward off overuse injuries. So, we have focused on two forms of cardio conditioning in addition to Pilates. She works on the eliptical trainer, and sometimes on a bike. In both cases, she does not use much tension because she does not want any additional muscle mass in the legs. But, she maintains a pace which keeps her heart rate in a good working range. I bought her a heart rate monitor to ensure that she is working in a good range.


I do have her working with a trainer with a background in ballet once a week. She does Pilates with the trainer, and the trainer essentially prescribes her workouts for the rest of the week. We've been monitoring things carefully because we want to ensure that she maintains her fluidity and flexibility while improving her core strength and cardio conditioning. Three months into it, her flexibility has improved tremendously, core strength is helping her turn like a top, and she's very happy with the changes she has seen in her body. AND, the big one is she is injury-free after coming off 6-8 months of some chronic injuries.


I think every body is different, and I think it is important not to take things into your own hands. You should seek the advice of experts and people who are tuned into what a dancer's body needs to be able to do. :innocent:

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Alexander Technique is a discipline developed originally for singers and actors to allow them to work without danger of damaging themselves. Mr. Alexander himself was a singer who lost his voice by straining. He developed his techniques to assist other artists to prevent what happened to him.


Mini cooper, right on all counts. :innocent:

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I have found when DD has at least one jazz class/week her overall endurance is better. This is especially true when the class is rehearsing an intense, high energy jazz dance.

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No on the swimming for a female dancer. Overdevelops the shoulder area and upper arms. I also agree with Mini Cooper on her post. However, I have found that stamina develops over time in ballet too. The more advanced they become, the more difficult the work, the longer the combinations, and the more that is demanded in rehearsals. When dancers first learn a long, difficult piece of choreography they are always wiped out by it, but after rehearsing it over a period of time the endurance improves and by the time they perform it they should be ready.

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Knock knock, I'm not a parent so please delete if necessary...

I do sometimes train on the elliptical trainer, but recently we've been doing a lot of variations in repertory, rehearsal, and variations class, and I'm also doing a really tiring variation in Nutcracker, and I've found that that's increased my stamina more than anything I've ever done....so, my advice would be pretty much what Ms. Leigh said-take lots of classes and practice variations!

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To those of you that have said no to swimming due to upper body muscle building in the female dancer, I agree totally. Our thoughts, if dd was goint to try swimming, were to use a kick board in order to eliminate the upper body strength building. Wouldn't that eliminate that muscle building issue? Having enough time is still a problem so I am afraid we will have to rely on repeated rehearsals to improve stamina. Maybe swimming could be utilized in the future if approved with a kickboard.

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I didn't think about the muscle development aspect of it, sorry ekeetaxi. I don't know if using the kickboard would be a good idea as it might bulk up her legs, though I am not sure about that.


What about water aerobics or water jogging? I don't know if that builds muscle or if it is more of a strictly aerobic workout...I also think the suggestion of the elliptical trainer sounds good.

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