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Got Tight Hips? 5 Exercises to Find Relief
When a muscle is tight, most dancers' natural response is to stretch it. But when it comes to your hip flexors, stretching won't provide a long-term cure, and it could even make the problem worse if the muscle is inflamed.
Often, a more effective fix is building strength in the stabilizing muscles. As a Pilates instructor who specializes in working with dancers, here are five of my favorite exercises to relieve hip tightness—and increase mobility.
Toe Taps on a Foam Roller
1. Lie on a foam roller in the center of your head and spine. Start with your legs in tabletop position, your pelvis neutral and your fingertips resting on the floor.
2. Keeping your torso still and abdominals flat, lower one leg toward the floor. Go only as far as torso position can be maintained.
3. Return to tabletop, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 6–8 taps on each leg, alternating each time.
Single Leg Extension
1. Lie face down with your fingertips resting on your forehead. Your leg are turned out, but can be together or hip distance apart.
2. Maintaining a stable pelvis, reach one leg long and off the mat. Be careful to only extend the leg as far as a neutral pelvis can be maintained. Your low back should remain relaxed.
3. Return to start, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 6–8 reps with each leg, alternating each time.
Shoulder Bridge Prep
1. Stabilize your pelvis and spine in a neutral position, then extend your hips to lift the pelvis off the mat, creating a diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Be careful to not extend the spine.
2. Lift one foot off mat, making sure that there is no dropping or movement of the pelvis.
3. Return to start, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 3–6 reps with each leg, alternating each time.
Heel Squeeze Prone
1. Lie on your stomach with spine and pelvis in neutral, fingertips resting on forehead. With your knees slightly wider than hip-distance, bend them at a 90-degree angle.
2. Squeeze heels together and lightly lift your thighs off the mat as far as a neutral pelvis and spine can be maintained.
3. Hold for a second, then return to starting position and repeat for 8–10 repetitions.
1. Lie on your side with spine and pelvis in neutral, knees bent and together and your bottom heel lifted slightly.
2. Keeping your pelvis neutral and your heels together, lift the top knee.
3. Hold for a second, then return to start. Aim for 8–10 repetitions.
4. Repeat on opposite side.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.