Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Technique, Turnout and Pilates

I am really very excited, because, after nearly 5 months of no ballet classes, I have finally been given a tentative go-ahead to return to dance very soon! I've been working hard on recovery and it's finally paying off. (And more to the point, I'm starting to feel positive about recovery which is a mind-shift from even a month ago)

On the negative side, it's going to be another month or so, continuing apace, before I am 'safe' to return to ballet, but on the positive side, that fits in nicely with my dance school's current schedule, since they are currently preparing for a show which will happen in early November, so it makes sense for me to aim to return to classes after the show. This news has made me quite abstractly happy, especially as I was beginning to think that perhaps I was never going to be ok enough to return.

Now what I need to work on is strength. Anyone who's ever been ill or bed-ridden for any length of time will know that feeling of weakness that you get from having not used your muscles for a while. For me, this is a little more extreme: I've always had very strong legs, people often comment that I have 'dancer's legs', and whilst my calf muscles are still as strong as ever, I have really quite significant muscle wastage in my thighs and around my hips (I think these are called my hip flexor or lateral rotator muscles) so holding turnout has become something of an issue. Obviously, the solution to this is to rebuild muscle by putting on weight and working my turnout muscles regularly, but I feel like I've got a mammoth task ahead of me. My feedback from my last exam (remember I said I missed out on an honours but got a good highly commended?) alludes to this, and my dance teacher went through with me the reasons behind this deduction of marks for technique. This is partly the wake up call that I needed to make me realise the damage that my body has sustained over the last year, and it's a reminder that I have a lot of (positive) work to do to put it right.

As I won't be back at ballet class for a little while yet, and since I now need to retrain my body to build up these muscles again, my therapist has suggested pilates. Now, I know that pilates is considered excellent conditioning for dancers, but she thinks it will help two-fold: one; with the reconditioning that my body needs before returning to full class and, two; with body awareness, which, in her words "any one, but particularly a dancer, recovering from an eating disorder, would benefit from".

So, today's job is to investigate local pilates classes: If anyone out there in the dance or blogging world has any advice about what I should be looking for, or what to avoid, questions to ask, stories of how pilates has helped etc etc. it would be appreciated enormously.

Wish me luck!


  1. Well I'm wishing you luck. Start with BRB and the Jerwood Centre. Nowhere better when it comes to injury recovery etc,.

  2. Good luck! So glad to hear you are improving :)

  3. Thanks BN and 4EB - I feel more steady than I have in months. Now I just have to translate that into physical steadiness. I'm hitting a bit of a blank on the 'registered practitioners' front though. Is there a registered body of pilates practitioners?