Core Competency: Pilates to the Rescue!

Do you struggle when you teacher asks you to engage your core during battements, balances and turns? The core muscles – not to be confused with the muscles that create a six-pack – are vital for a dancer in any genre. Ballet especially, with its specific and sustained demands on your posture and alignment, constantly uses the concepts that pilates specifically addresses.

Control of your core or “powerhouse” goes hand in hand with dance and is fundamental for proper ballet and pointe technique, but it can often be one of the most difficult things to master. Your torso has layers upon layers of muscles. Generally, the core refers to the muscles from your abs, sides and back at the deepest layers which are designed to provide support to the spine. Of course, if you are looking to get that six-pack look (which is created by the more superficial layers of the abdominals), core training is still an important part of reaching that goal.

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, a prize-winning gymnast from Germany. This method is alive and well today because of its consistent and excellent results. Pilates opened his first studio right alongside a number of dance studios, and Pilates soon became an integral part of the dancers’ regimen.

Many ballet schools provide classes or even require them for their students. If you are interested in Pilates training, look for a certified instructor. Ideally, find a former dancer or dance teacher that understands the complexities of Pilates as it is intended for dancers. Private lessons are fantastic for beginners. If you don’t know where to look for a qualified instructor, check out the Pilates Method Alliance® for a list of first-generation teachers (who studied under Pilates and his wife) and to search their PMA Pilates Certified Teacher database.