The Best Boutique Fitness Classes for Dancers
The boutique fitness craze has swept cities and Instagram accounts. Though you may not be interested in underwater cycling or trampoline yoga, some of these trendy classes have major benefits as cross-training. Use these pro tips to make sure your approach will pay off in the studio.
Who should do it: The purpose of cross-training is to challenge your body in new ways. So a barre class—which is loosely modeled on a ballet barre—wouldn't make sense for someone taking ballet regularly, but it might be perfect for a tap or jazz dancer, or a ballet dancer during layoff, says Megan Richardson, an athletic trainer at The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.
Pro tips: Barre classes often use a different range of motion than ballet classes, so take the opportunity to develop other muscles, says Alicia Ferriere, DPT, of Finish Line Physical Therapy. Let up if anything feels like it's pinching.
Who should do it: Anyone who wants to build upper-extremity stability, says Richardson. You'll learn to use muscles in a quick, forceful way, and work on functional core strength.
Pro tips: Make sure you're in control of your mobility. Because dancers tend to have flexible shoulders, your instructor should show you how to work from your shoulder, back and core muscles, not your joints, says Richardson. Try a private session or a small class for your first time, and avoid classes where you fight other students directly.
Who should do it: Dancers working on building stamina—especially for short, powerful bursts like petit allégro.
Pro tips: Look for studios with bikes that allow your shoes to clip in. According to Richardson, having your foot secured to the pedal will help you activate your hamstrings, rather than just your quads. Sit back on the widest part of the saddle and make sure your seat is at the correct height—if your knees are coming up too far, your hip flexors will take over. Many studios use metrics that allow you to compete against classmates—just make sure this doesn't push you to overdo it.
Who should do it: Richardson suggests these classes for dancers looking to build partnering strength, since you often learn how to lift overhead properly.
Pro tips: When done with poor form, maxing out on weight and repetitions and locking into hyperextended joints can put you at risk for ligament injury. Ferriere recommends taking classes taught at a slower pace and using lighter weights when learning new movements.
Who should do it: Dancers looking to build cardio, improve back strength and work upper-body muscles they normally wouldn't activate.
Pro tips: There's a risk for lower back and neck injury, says Ferriere, so be sure your legs are doing the work and that you're pushing through your heels. Don't flex too far forward—it shouldn't feel like a hamstring stretch—and stay neutral in your pelvis. Take a beginner class your first time to learn the fundamentals.
Who should do it: Anyone looking to build core strength, and to find length and strength in more challenging positions. Richardson calls classes like SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone) and ChaiseFitness "Pilates on steroids," since they incorporate machinery to intensify classic Pilates exercises.
Pro tips: "The person who is instructing you really needs to be savvy about where you need to be activating," says Richardson. "You need to be using the deep core muscles that are often weak in dancers."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.