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Sue Mayes

Sue Mayes

Physiotherapist, The Australian Ballet
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Achieving balance

Experts — Posted 21/05/14

What can we learn from the perfect posture, technique and effortless form of dancers when it comes to our own wellbeing?

You don’t have to be a ballerina to benefit from a dancer’s approach to fitness. Dancers are known for their ability to balance in gravity defying positions. However, there is a great degree of balance in their approach to health and wellbeing that we can all embrace.

Balanced team approach

The dancers of The Australian Ballet are managed by a team of health professionals who contribute to their physical and psychological wellbeing. Consider seeking advice from a variety of skilled professionals who promote health and fitness.

Balance between strength and mobility

Ballet requires a unique balance between strength and mobility or flexibility. Injuries occur when the muscles are not strong enough to control the extreme joint movements. Dancers perform daily exercises to maintain or improve their joint mobility and muscle flexibility. The emphasis is on performing these in a safe and controlled manner as aggressive stretching can cause injury.

Balance and movement awareness/proprioception.

Dancers develop a high level of joint position awareness or proprioception which is essential for their balance. A loss of proprioception and balance can result in falls and injuries such as ankle sprains. Simple exercises are easy to introduce into your day and may benefit you at any age. Dancers practice balancing on a wobble board whilst performing complex ballet movements with their arms and legs. Balancing on one leg with your eyes shut can be a good start. However, you should seek advice from a health professional regarding the most appropriate balance exercise.

Balanced posture and alignment

A successful dancer has excellent posture and you can usually spot them passing by. This alignment, that allows the body to move in the most efficient way, is developed from a young age. But it’s never too late to become aware of your posture and joint alignment. Learning how to balance your joints in optimal alignment is a skill taught by our health professionals in workshops such as the Connecting exercises workshop.

Balanced or holistic approach to injuries 

You will benefit from considering the fitness of your whole body when recovering from injury. An injury in the foot may be due to a weak hip muscle. Prolonged pain or a reoccurrence of injury may be prevented with a more holistic approach.

Balance perfect form with hard work

Dancers are able to perform strenuous exercise whilst making it look effortless. This skill relies on excellent technique or perfect form. Make the most of your time spent exercising and ensure you have perfect form. Perform your exercises accurately and if you begin to lose control or alignment rest momentarily and try again. A poorly performed exercise can waste your time and be harmful.

Balance of music and movement

Classical music has been found to improve your health and wellbeing. Add this to the benefits of movement and you have the perfect method of enhancing your health in a ballet class.

Balance in life

Balance in all our lives is difficult to achieve with our busy schedules. Exercise that is enjoyable is a great way to ensure a degree of balance. There are many public programs that The Australian Ballet offers that will fill your lives with interest and joy. A night out at the ballet will certainly add that balance in so many ways.

Getting involved

The Australian Ballet has a range of Public Programs, giving you the chance to go behind the scenes, enrich your ballet experience, and get up close and personal with the company. In particular the Adult ballet classes and Connecting exercises workshops gives you the opportunity to harness the world class resources of The Australian Ballet, encouraging you to understand more about your body and healthy living through the lens of ballet. 

Learn more about the world of dance at australianballet.com.au

(Images: Kryziz Bonny (main image); Quinn Dombrowski; The Australian Ballet)

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