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5 Exercises Adult Ballet Students Should Do Everyday

by | Mar 13, 2015 | Articles, Learning Beyond Class, Lifestyle

Life can be hectic, and it can be difficult to stay in shape. Keeping up with your ballet technique can seem overwhelming. But you don’t have to go to class everyday to benefit from some basic ballet moves. If you want to stay in shape and feel good, practice these five essential exercises at home.

1. Hamstring stretch

dancer doing hamstring stretch for morning warmup

Wake your body up gently by starting on the floor. Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Lean forward and try to touch your toes. A key element of this stretch is keeping your knees as close to touching the floor as possible. The whole objective is to give your hamstrings a good stretch, and that can’t happen if your knees are popping up towards your chest. This can be a particularly tight area for some, so be mild. You want to try to get your chest to touch your legs, but if you feel any pain, ease up. Use your good judgement and listen to your body.

2. Cambré

black and white image of dancer alone at barre in cambré

Brings awareness to your upper body by opening your ribcage. Take deep relaxing breaths as you reach over your head. Be careful not to twist your torso, but keep good alignment. Feel your sides open up as you reach and return to the center, repeating on the other side. You can even bend forward and try to touch your toes, again, keeping your knees as straight as possible. If you bend forward, slowly return to the upright position, carrying your arm up high with you.

3. Plié

vintage photo of little ballerianas in plié

No other technique in the ballet lexicon is more significant. Pliés are the ultimate warm-up, getting your blood pumping and preparing you for larger movements. Stand in first position with your heels touching and your feet in the letter V. Bend your knees, making sure your legs stay in a diamond shape, and your knees do not go past your toes. Practice multiple repetitions of 8 plies, or whatever you can manage. Pliés work your hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteals. Want to improve your leaps, or get ready for bikini season? Practice pliés.

4. Rélevé

ballet dancer feet in rélevé

Calf-raises are a simple, yet awesome, way to tone and strengthen your lower legs. Before attempting relevés, stretch your achilles tendon and calves by pressing your palms against a wall and stepping your foot back. Then practice ankle rolls by drawing a counterclockwise circle with your toes. Once you’ve decreased stiffness in these areas, stand with your feet together in parallel or in first position, and rise to half-point. Repeat this rise, or relevé, with multiple reps. Keep in mind, the intensity of the repetition may cause cramping, so stop and shake out your legs.

5. Sauté

blurry image of feet in motion, Sauté

Replace your typical jumping jacks with small jumps. Sautés are a great combination of cardio and strength training. Stand in first position, plié, and jump in place, being sure to point your toes. Always land in a plié. Repeat multiple reps. This exercise boosts your circulation and increases stamina. If you have weak knees, take it easy with smaller hops that barely leave the floor. Put your hands on your hips for added support and to prevent your arms from flailing.

These are some essential exercises to incorporate into your daily routine. Make sure you have enough space to perform the exercises and always listen to your body. If you consistently practice these moves, you will notice a difference in your overall health and an improvement in your technique.

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image credit: Beth and (Jim, Emma & Chloe) Holmes (morning warmup)
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Hi I’m Nikki, The Last Dancer. My whole life has been influenced by dancing and this shop focuses on items that speak to a dancer’s entire lifestyle. If you found yourself here, my hope is that this website offers you inspiration too. The shop contains my own products and the blog is original content.

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