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Core strength


Tulip
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Can I ask some of our knowlegable forum members, is core strength something that all dancers have to work on continuously? This is an assesment feed back that my daughter always gets. I felt her dad was a bit harsh when he said well this is an ongoing correction and she should have had it sorted by now. She is 16 and her core strength is not bad and she does do her recomended exercises set by her teachers. Do some dancers have a very strong core or is it a mature thing?

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I am far from an expert but I believe it is on-going. My dd worked very hard on core stability after being told it was such an intergral part of dancing and following a lot of work, achieved an RBS SA place. That said, her teacher there and at her other schools are continually keeping their eye on her posture and giving exercises to promote core strength. I don't think it is something to get to and then you've 'got it' if you see what I mean. A bit like a friend of mine who said 'well I had singing lessons a few years ago so I can sing'-no, training/technique/strength is on-going and Katherine Jenkins still has a singing coach and dancers will continually work on core strength in their lessons and lead up to performances on stage.

Swe

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I'm pretty sure it's ongoing and that is why Pilates complements Dance so well. At dd's Associates class at least 15 minutes of the ballet class is spent on core strengthening exercises on top of warm-up and stretching. She also has the "Pilates for Young Dancers" DVD and after Easter will be doing an hour's Pilates for Dancers class before Snr Ballet.

 

She is 13 and apparently has excellent core strength but like most things, I'm pretty sure it's a case of "Use it or Lose it". :-)

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Core strength is actually the incorrect term used in dance - people really mean good endurance of the core muscles. Dancers need to be able to contract their core muscles (abdominals, intercostals, obliques and back muscles) to stabilise their body over what could be several minutes at a time, while the rest of the body is pulling in all directions. Strength is great at first, but without good muscular endurance it's useless.

 

Pilates is good for focusing attention on the muscles but doesn't usually challenge them in standing positions, (where the effect of gravity is very different) or at the same dynamic intensities that they need to maintain a contraction during jumps, turns and sharper movements.

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The endurance aspect is very interesting Dr D, there are a couple of national level tennis players at DD's school and they undertake a strength programme as part of the development squads, however during stress tests given to all the girls at school DD is able to hold these positions for much much longer - (embarassingly longer for them). As a totally non sporty child they are bemused that ballet ("all that wafting around") is the reason. ;-)

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Core strength - the use of muscles of the abdomen, back and the connections thereto - is something that a dancer focuses on till the last day of dance.

 

It is not just a strengthening - but also a "how to use."

 

I remember reading an explanation by Rudoph Nureyev on how he learned to use each quadrant of his abdomen separately and/or together especially for pirouettes. 

 

It is easy to see that if one is not in control of the abdomen - back - and other muslces of the torso and how they connect to the extremeties - one is not in control of movements of the body.  If one  is not in control of inner stability (core) then one is not in control of outer stability or in directional (front/back/side) movement.  Because a dancer doesn't simply want to move - but wants to to control the "where" and "how" of movement, the dancer needs to learn to control the engine of that movement. 

 

This process of gaining and using this control is never ending.  And, the more control one has paradoxically the less strain shows.  It allows the dancer to make it look easy.

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