improve Your Ballroom Dancing
Ballet is the root of all dance, which is why it’s many professional dancers have been classically trained. In fact, many sports including artistic sports such as gymnastics and ice skating require their athletes to take Ballet. While there are many habits of a classically trained dancer that need to be adjusted for ballroom dance, there are also many positive habits that will transfer easily into your ballroom dance training. What is it about Ballet that is so important to the growth of a ballroom dancer? That’s what today’s post is all about! We will discuss why you should learn Ballet and how it will improve your ballroom dancing skills.
Below are the topics I will be covering today.
Posture and Alignment
Posture and alignment are the first topics that are covered in Ballet. That’s because it is super important to have proper alignment while dancing. If you dance in proper alignment, you will in turn have good posture. This is something that is very important to a dancer’s ability for many reasons. To name a few, this will allow you to move from one foot to the other with ease, your turns will improve, and your balance will improve. Without proper alignment, it’s likely that you will injure yourself over time. In most Ballet classes, you will begin with exercises at the barre where you will need to focus on your alignment throughout each exercise until it becomes a habit to carry yourself this way. Over time, you will have an awareness of your posture that you never noticed before.
One goal most of my students have in common is that they would like to improve their balance. Dance is a great activity to do so because it challenges you to do actions such as turning or standing on one foot and it requires you to literally glide across the floor (which isn’t an easy feat.) If you are struggling to maintain balance in your ballroom training, Ballet would be a great addition to your training because there are many exercises used in Ballet that is geared to improve balance. However, one of the first things an instructor would say is that you need to improve your alignment to help with your balance! Part of having proper alignment is to engage your core muscles and keep a neutral pelvis. These things are drilled and drilled and drilled in a Ballet lesson until it becomes second nature. Once you have done exercises at the barre, they take the barre away and have you dance “center” work which will really challenge your balance. These exercises will consist of extending your leg away from your body and bringing it back in quickly without wavering as well as standing on “releve” which is French for on your toes while balancing on one leg. If you continue to do these exercises over and over along with improving your alignment, you will see HUGE improvements in your balance.
Check out this video below to help improve your balance in Ballet
If anyone ever said a dancer is weak… they are wrong! Dancers are super strong and have amazing muscle control, which is one of the aspects that make it so amazing to watch! You hear about the “dancer’s body” for a reason! In Ballet, you are taught to control every movement you make, and this style involves and strengthens all parts of the body. The exercises at the barre will help develop muscle control in the legs, feet, core, and arms. This discipline will then be carried to the center where you will focus on turns across the floor on releve as well as leaps across the floor which will build more strength in your legs. The brisk movements done in a petit allegro will help you to develop the smaller reflex muscle groups. Training your body to be able to do these movements with control and poise will cross over into your ballroom training, making techniques you may usually struggle with even easier and better than before!
Everything in Ballet is about coordination. What you do on one side, you must do on the other. There is no “righty or “lefty” in dance. Sure, you may be stronger on one side than the other, but you will work to make both sides strong. There is a lot of coordinating that happens with the lower body to the upper body, such as learning how the positions of the arms move in coordination with the direction you are facing or the direction your legs are moving. These things can be very challenging both physically and mentally but are super helpful in making you a better dancer!
Ballet uses a mixture of strength and stretch which causes the muscles to lengthen. If you stick with Ballet at least once a week, you will for sure notice a difference in your range of motion and flexibility. This will help you in ballroom dance because you will have better lines, more mobility in your spine and through your ribcage, and ultimately give you a competitive edge.
Ballet will teach you how to move your arms and about the different positions of the arms. In Ballet, they call these Port De Bras which translates to Carriage of the Arms. There are many times my students have asked what to do with their arms or they just feel like moving them feels very unnatural. Ballet will teach you how to move your arms in a natural way so that they are coordinated with what you are doing. The biggest thing to remember about arms is that they are an extension of the body which means that the body needs to do something to cause a reaction in the arms. However, there is more to being graceful than knowing how to move your arms. Being graceful also has to do with how you glide from foot to foot, the position of your head, the softness or energy in your arms and hands, and how you express yourself to the music you are dancing to.
As you can see, Ballet plays a huge role in a dancer’s development. Yes, you can learn a lot of these things from your ballroom instructor, but where do you think your instructor learned these things? In most cases, they have had Ballet training. The discipline of Ballet will train your body to do these things automatically. Moving with grace, maintaining good posture, and having the strength to hold positions and articulate your feet will become much easier. Many athletes need to cross-train to become better athletes. Ballroom dancers need Ballet to become better ballroom dancers.
Interested in becoming a better dancer today? Schedule your intro lesson