How Pilates Principles Can Help Dance Training
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
What is Pilates? Pilates is a form of movement created in the 1920’s by a man named Joseph Pilates. The practice incorporates an accumulation of physical exercises with a system of resistance springs and special apparatus used to enhance things like posture, strengthening, stretching, and mental awareness. A lot of Pilates practice started with athletes—particularly with boxers.
Pilates has been widely used all over the world for rehabilitation and cross-training for athletes. In the recent decade, it has become popular in the fitness industry as well. Pilates is not only a great workout, but you really FEEL the results in just one session.
Pilates is unique due to its specific principles of the movement-based practice. You’ll find that these principles are similar to a lot of the cues that are said by dance teachers, too. Here are some of the principles:
Much like in a dance class, the Pilates movement requires a great deal of concentration to execute the moves properly. In dance class, you must concentrate on the teacher, on your body, and perhaps on your peers.
Ever heard the compliment in dance, “He/She has so much control over her movement.” What does that mean? It means that the dancer knows exactly where their body is in space and how to execute movement in an efficient manner.
In Pilates, there is usually a specific flow of the class. You never stop moving. You may take a rest, but one movement just so effortlessly flows into the next. These transitions are similar to preparing for a dance solo or dance performance. One movement flowing into the next is how we create amazing movements.
Breathing is hard. Dancing and breathing at the same time? Phew, sometimes I even hold my breath! Muscle activation is greater when you use your breath. It allows you to develop a sense of ease while executing movement as well as not letting you pass out from a performance! Pilates exercises have a specific breath pattern for each exercise. Without it, the movements may not feel or look the same way.
The biggest types of awareness that are important for Pilates are spatial awareness and bodily awareness (internal and external). You’ve probably heard of spatial awareness in dance class when you have a dancer next to you who struggles to stay in their spot in the formation. This is common! Pilates teaches you to know where your body is in space. Internal and external body awareness is your connection between your mind and your body. An example of this is when you can feel a cold coming on in the winter months—you can feel the symptoms inside your body!
Our dance teachers say it over and over again… “make it sharper!” Precision is not always about sharp movements, but it’s about executing the movements in a controlled and efficient manner.
As you might be able to tell, these Pilates principles align with dance very closely. Pilates as a form of cross-training can HUGELY benefit your dancing in more ways than you may realize.
If you have any questions, send us a message. This type of training may be perfect for you, or we can connect you to someone in your area to help.