New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder is known for her buoyant jump. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet
Jumping might seem like something you're either a natural at or that you'll never master. "She's a jumper," you might hear someone say about another dancer with a beautiful grand jeté—and assume, in turn, that you're not. But how high you leap—and how quickly and easily you do it—is actually a skill that you can build with practice.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.
At some point in your career, you've probably used an ice pack or heating pad to alleviate post-rehearsal aches and pains. But some popular new therapies take these temperature-based recovery practices to extremes.
Could cranking up the intensity equal better results?
Mirror is an in-home workout designed by former New York City Ballet dancer Brynn Putnam.
Today, you no longer have to head to a gym or a fitness studio to get a heart-pumping workout. (Or rely on rewinding old VHS tapes of Jane Fonda.) Online workouts have never been easier for dancers to fit into their lives, whether you're on tour or want to squeeze in a warm-up at home before class. But with a seemingly endless scroll of options, which are best?
A pointe class at Youth America Grand Prix, where performing on pointe before age 11 is now prohibited. Photo by VAM Productions, courtesy YAGP
In 2018, the Youth America Grand Prix added a rule: For participants under age 12, performing on pointe became strongly discouraged. For those under 11, it became prohibited.
The competition organizers made these changes after jury members, teachers and others raised concerns about students being pushed to perform on pointe too early. Larissa Saveliev, YAGP co-founder and director, says, "Ten years ago we didn't have to have these rules because nobody was progressing that fast."
As ballet prodigies get younger and their abilities more extraordinary, many are asking, How young is too young to let their bodies dance on the tips of their toes?
You can still be learning even if you have to sit out. PC Getty Images
When you're unable to dance, it's easy to feel like you're falling behind and losing out on opportunities. But this can be a time to reset your body and come back even stronger, says Ilana Goldman, BFA program director at Florida State University's School of Dance. "Some of the greatest leaps I made in my technique happened because of injuries," she says. "Learning how to deal with them is part of being a professional dancer."
Heavy backpacks and hilly campuses can wear on a college dancer's body. Photo via Thinkstock
College can be hard on the body. Between late-night rehearsals, carrying backpacks around hilly campuses and long, sedentary study sessions, it's tough for dancers to give their bodies the care they need to prevent injury.
Here are the most common reasons college students get injured—and our top tips for prevention.
Turnout can be a tricky thing. Perfect 180 degrees can make your lines look gorgeous, but gripping, forcing and twisting to get it there can lead to injuries down the road.
"It's a struggle because the demands of ballet positioning, to really do it properly you need to be turned out," says former American Ballet Theatre principal and master ballet teacher Ashley Tuttle. "If your body's not quite as turned out as the steps require then you have to find a way to make it look turned out but not hurt yourself."
While gripping may seem harmless, this bad habit can manifest in a host of different lower-extremity injuries, says Sarah Edery-Altas, PT, DPT, OCS at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.
What dancers do during their summer layoff can be the key to a successful next season. The theory of periodization suggests that downtime should be carefully divided into multiple stages: post-season total rest, off-season cross-training and pre-season ramping up.
Building this strategic recovery time into your yearly schedule can allow for improvement—and decrease your chances of getting injured.If you have five to six weeks off, here's the ideal way to divide up your time.