Dancers, There's No Magic Potion for Better Balance
Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Imagine this: You’re trying so hard to stay on relevé for your pirouette but your whole body is shaking and your ankles are wobbling and your arms have fallen out of first position and you start feeling yourself falling to the right, and…
Yeah I’ve been there.
Balance is hard. No one really teaches us how to balance. Instead we’re just expected to figure it out and it will “get better over time.”
It CAN get better over time, but it WON’T unless you’re strengthening the muscles needed for balance.
One of the most underrated muscle groups for balance is the middle and upper back. I see dancers who have incredibly strong lower backs and standing legs yet still can’t balance more than 2 seconds.
Your middle back (especially the lats) engagement is crucial for engaging your core and maintaining alignment. And your upper back strength is mostly important for your alignment and connection to the arms.
So no matter if your arms are in first position or fifth, it shouldn’t matter… unless your back isn’t strong enough.
Now one overrated muscle group is your abdominals or your core. I know that dance teachers tell their dancers to “engage the core” probably 5x in each class if not more.
I recently traveled to Boise, ID for an in-person master class weekend at a dance studio. While I was teaching my class, before we started the core training section, I asked the dancers if they knew how to engage their core. Out of a class of 25 students, only a few of them gave me the “eh kinda” answer while the majority shook their heads no.
That is MINDBLOWING to me given how much we hear this correction in the dance industry.
We’re all literally broken records at this point because giving corrections to a dancer is useless if they don’t know how to fix it.
Read that sentence again.
The best analogy I can give you to explain core engagement is that it feels like someone is poking you in the stomach and you start tightening your muscles so their finger doesn’t go further into your abdomen.
Hopefully that makes sense. I have a virtual core class that explains this in detail that you can watch later, but your core is actually very important for balance like your teachers are saying.
But it’s not just your abdominals that make-up your core. Your core actually includes your abdominals (including obliques), your back, your diaphragm, and your pelvic floor.
THAT is how you can achieve better balance… by strengthening these muscles and understanding core activation.
There’s other things that go into it such as alignment and breath, but I recommend that you start small and add those layers eventually.
So no, there isn’t a quick fix or magic potion to discovering your balance and holding a passé for 10 seconds.
You’ve gotta work for it and understand your body on a whole new level, so let’s start there.
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