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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Improving my dancing.


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I'm 18 and have just gone to University. I have done Jazz and Tap dance for some time now and decided to start taking ballet at uni and I am loving it. I would like to continue improving and so I am trying to increase the time I spend in the studio.

My question is, is there anything specific you would recommend I do to improve my dancing, outside of the studio. I am running to try and improve my aerobic fitness but haven't got many ideas other than that.



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Strength training. There’s a lot to be said for having brute strength available. Working out what to do with it is what class is for. 

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Agree with strength training - it has helped me quite a bit. So many things are easier when you are stronger. Sometimes I get discouraged by not being able to take more than 1-2 classes a week, but then I thought through the things I could still do outside of class, and that list is very long. Plus, you can usually do many more repetitions outside the studio. I also like to focus on best "bang for the buck" exercises, which translate to many things in ballet. Find whatever weaknesses you have in class, and prioritize those. For me it has been pirouettes, so lots of work on calf strength, balance, partial turns and spotting drills. For raw strength, I hit the "big 4" of squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press every week (because I like lifting), but for ballet I think a front squat or lunge is preferred because your torso is more upright, like it should be in ballet. Bench press doesn't have great carryover, but overhead press is good because it requires a solid core. Lots of developpes are good too, and slow adagio combinations to work on strength and balance. Work on turnout strength especially, since these muscles are seldom used in other activities. Get a theraband and use it on clamshell exercises and rotations in passe against the resistance.

I came from a running background (cross country and Army career) and it doesn't do much for ballet in my opinion, other than some conditioning. For me it makes my hips feel more stiff, and works parts of the calf that don't matter for ballet. I was a good runner but had awfully weak calves for ballet. I prefer running hills or hard sprints versus long slow distance running.

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Daily 32 single leg rises. 

Upper body strength obviously essential if you’re lucky enough to do partnering work.

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