Inside DM

Working Out With Christina Spigner

The Miami City Ballet dancer works out on a mini-trampoline.

Spigner rebounds three to four times a week. Photo courtesy MCB.

Christina Spigner conditions her body with everything from the Feldenkrais Method to weight training. But the Miami City Ballet corps member’s favorite option—rebounding—is far less traditional. Rebounders bounce on a small trampoline in a variety of positions for an intense cardio workout as well as strength training for the legs and core. While some boutique fitness locations offer classes, online resources also make it easy to try at home. “It’s like an invigorating dance party combined with an effective workout,” says Spigner.

The 22-year-old Arizona native discovered rebounding after a hip surgery for an impingement and labral tear. During recovery, Spigner used Pilates, swimming, Feldenkrais and physical therapy exercises to heal and stabilize. But when she was ready to challenge herself, rebounding (recommended by a Feldenkrais instructor) fit the bill.

Now Spigner rebounds for 20 minutes three to four times a week. Her ballet-related routine moves from jumping with both legs in parallel, to single legs in parallel and repeating the pattern in turnout. “Then, I’ll increase the steps like petit allégro, moving to échappées, then beating the legs, changements and sometimes entrechats,” she says. Switching directions and sides help Spigner feel more confident when jumping in the studio and onstage. For her core, Spigner sits on the edge of the rebounder with her feet planted on the floor and bounces up and down, engaging her abs in a fresh way. “It creates a different type of tension,” she says. “I’m so sore afterward.”

Spigner says rebounding has improved her core, foot strength, jumps and overall stability (even during adagio). “Rebounding reveals your body’s weaknesses,” she says. “Is the chain of when you’re pushing off and how you’re landing safe? Are you getting maximal air in each position? Where are your instabilities? By the end, your body has fixed the problem areas. In class, it’s difficult to have the time and awareness of where the issues are. Rebounding clarifies that, and allows room to correct them.”

Take It Slow

“Be cautious about what you can handle the first couple times, and build endurance,” says Spigner, who warns that rebounding can aggravate lower-leg issues like tendonitis. “If you don’t feel comfortable bouncing, try a light jog.”

Lessons From Feldenkrais

In contrast to high-energy rebounding, the slow, precise Feldenkrais Method has helped Spigner discover new movement patterns and insights about her ballet technique.

• Less is more: “You don’t have to do a huge motion for your nervous system to learn the most efficient pattern.”

• Your frame of mind affects the way you move. “If you’re anxious or not breathing, even if you’re in the right position, your body won’t want to repeat it.”

• Strength and flexibility must be balanced. “It’s not always that you’re not strong enough. It may be that other muscles are inhibiting movement. Feldenkrais works with opposite muscles to release tension.”

The Conversation
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed

Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed,
a new venue in New York City.

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Advice for Dancers
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I'm a Broadway dancer with a long second toe and the nail is always bruised. I had thought switching from pointe work to dancing in character shoes was the answer—I felt great for several years until recently. What's the problem?

—Ouch!, Hoboken, NJ

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