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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Workout Routine


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Hey all, like many of the men on this thread I am a late starter in the ballet world..being 26. I have played baseball and lifted for most of my life so I've always lifted for mass/bulk. Is it necessary to continue lifting at the gym? If so, does anyone have a workout regimen I can follow? How about jogging?


I'm only taking one class a week at the moment because I am a super-beginner but would like to slim down and get into "dancer shape!"


Thanks for your help!!


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Hi Zach, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! :blushing: With the addition of ballet class to your list of physical exertions, you may want to ease up a bit on other forms of exercise, but you're the best judge of that, as you are probably not career-bound, right? When you get into it, ballet is more than enough exercise for anybody, but you have to be the decider on that score. Generally, we don't recommend jogging, as long as it remains jogging at a trot, and not just another name for cross-country running.

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If I were just starting and knew what I now know, here’s what I’d do. First, I would take two beginning ballet classes a week. I would go where ever I needed to go to get those two classes. In big schools you can easily find the two classes. In smaller schools, you might have to go to two different schools. Second, I’d take a Pilates mat class or a yoga class if you can’t find a Pilates class (I think most larger schools offer Pilates classes). These are good for gaining a sense of lengthening as you do the various exercises. The sense of lengthening is a very important skill in dance. Third, I’d stretch no less than 4 days a week for at least 20 minutes. The stretches you do are immaterial. The important thing is to do them frequently. Fourth and finally, I'd try to lose a pound or two. From that you will just feel lighter and will increase your range of motion. Clearly if you lose a pound or two, you’ll have to eat a little less.


As to other exercise, I’d say do anything that you enjoy. Now I am assuming that dance is your new priority, so you want to be sure you don’t go to class worn out from doing non-dance exercise. I’d even do some social dance or folk dance on the weekends just for fun and to get accustomed to moving with music.


On the non-physical side, I’d make it a point to see ballet or other theatrical dance whenever you can. I’d also broaden my range of music that I listen to. Classical (especially more contemporary classical), jazz, and so called world music are genres worth listening to in my opinion.


I’d keep with the Pilates or yoga for about six months and then replace that with a third ballet class. My sense is that one has to take at least three classes a week to make significant progress. If you can’t find a third class, a “home class” can work just as well.


And don’t be afraid to experiment with different things. There many ways one can develop as an adult dancer and ultimately you have to find your own way.

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The advice from Mel and Garyecht is excellent. The only thing I would add is to answer your specific question about whether the gym is necessary. I'm sure you can surmise from the previous advice that it's not, however, if you're like me and have this long time compulsion to hit the gym occasionally, I'll pass along what I do (not sure if you would call it a regimen, however).


You certainly don't need bulk so instead I look for those types of exercises that focus on the abs and core, such as cross-pulls, etc. I include some lunges of various flavors. With weights, I like to use pretty light dumbbells and do one-armed curls, reverse curls, and overhead presses while standing on one leg, starting on flat with the working leg in cou-de-pied or preferably in retire, working up to trying them in releve. Yeh, sometimes this gets some interesting glances in the gym but most realize what a challenge it can be! You'll also notice that you don't actually have to go to a gym to do most of these exercises but if you need that gym "fix," these might offer some alternatives while you're there.


Again, these suggestions are certainly not "needed," they're just things that I enjoy as a supplement when I'm at the gym. They certainly aren't a substitute for simply taking more classes, but might offer some variety.

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You never know what to expect when you join these forums but this one is amazing! Thanks all!


A little background on myself...My GF - soon to be fiance - has danced since she was a youngster and has been a great instructor so far. She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in the graduate program and has taught/danced with Peoria Ballet for several years. We moved to St. Louis with my job in 2010. There are several schools here so it won't be a problem finding another beginner course at a different school. I'm taking at a smaller school right now and they only offer one intermediate adult class. I was thinking about taking the mens class as well...but it's for the more advanced students. I'd rather not slow the entire class down :grinning:


Thanks for all the feedback. To me, it sounds like I just need to be diligent in stretching and making the muscles long and lean rather than bulky. You see the superstars like Desmond Richardson and they always look ripped but I am assuming that there's a bit of "superhuman" involved with guys like that :shrug:


I look forward to consulting with everyone here! I don't anticipate going pro in my lifetime but I'd love to guest perform with some of the schools in the area seeing as men are few and far between in the ballet world!


Thanks all!

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  • 7 years later...

Hi, I know this is an old post but wondering if you are still taking class in St Louis. I am a guy who is serious about improving in ballet, and also strength/fitness as well. At the moment I take class at St. Louis Ballet, and I'm looking for a second intermediate class in order to get more work in. I looked extensively at opportunities to perform as an adult in a small role, and only found three places - two Nutcrackers and one adult recital. But, my wife has allowed me to do class but not perform, so that's that.

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  • 11 months later...

For developpe, you want to be able to bring the knee as high as you can into retire, and then extend the leg and keep that height. You need the hamstring flexibility, but also the core strength so that you don't rely entirely on the hip flexor to do the work. Here are some exercises which have helped me:

1. Regular developpe at the barre, then plie and bend leg into attitude, then straighten and try to get a little higher.

2. Raise knee into retire, then pulse it up and down 10-15 times. You can do this in attitude position as well.

3. Releve lent - tendu out, then raise leg slowly while keeping it straight.

4. Developpe while lying on floor. Combine it with leg mount and get a really good stretch. Use theraband for arabesque position, though I usually use it standing up.

5. For arabesque, put feet under couch or furniture, lay on stomach, and do reverse sit-ups. Or 45-degree back extension that you see in gyms.

The Youtube channel Lazy Dancer tips has a good video for strengthening extensions - it's mostly on the floor but very tiring!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the list, Andy.  I worked the reverse sit ups into my morning stretches a couple days ago.  Love the stretch.  My hamstrings-- and most all else-- are so tight and bound up (perhaps from 60+ years of living, or 20+ years of road cycling, or other times of doing nothing) that i really struggle getting my legs a) extended, and b) raised.  Right now i can ALMOST get my straight let to knee height, and my feet in retire with toe at or just above my knee.  Its getting better, but in small increments.  As i approach the 1 year anniversary of my first ballet class i am just coming to appreciate how much time, work, and patience some of these things take.  I once thought i would be ready for "beginner" classes sooner than the typical two year trajectory for absolute beginning adults.  Well, ... ... ... disillusionment aside, I sure enjoy noting the progress i am able to achieve.   I think it was a line from "Marie, Dancing Still":  Dancing is easy [when you don't know how]!  Cheers.  Matt

Edited by MattMan
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