Teachers, we all recognize that core strength is essential to any strong, technically sound dancer. While we aim to teach our students to always move from the inside out vs. from the extremities (i.e. arms, legs, etc.,) getting started to build towards a sound center takes work and committed practice.

Below you’ll find three of my favorite exercises to get your dancers going; both in the studio and on their own at home. Each can be executed daily with multiple repetitions and modified based on level and physical capability. Remember, without a strong core we don’t have the potential to master turns, balances, extensions, jumps and a whole catalogue of movement necessary to develop one’s technique safely and properly! Good luck!...

Teachers, we all recognize that core strength is essential to any strong, technically sound dancer. While we aim to teach our students to always move from the inside out vs. from the extremities (i.e. arms, legs, etc.,) getting started to build towards a sound center takes work and committed practice.

Below you’ll find three of my favorite exercises to get your dancers going; both in the studio and on their own at home. Each can be executed daily with multiple repetitions and modified based on level and physical capability. Remember, without a strong core we don’t have the potential to master turns, balances, extensions, jumps and a whole catalogue of movement necessary to develop one’s technique safely and properly! Good luck!

“OVERHEADS”- Start lying on back with legs extended. Core engaged. Arms stretched above your head. As you begin a ‘crunch,’ the right leg comes up and battements as the arms also come up overhead simultaneously (think of a dive position.) Ensure that the shoulders come off the floor in the crunch position. Repeat left. Start with 15-20 repetitions and build from there.

Progressions #1: Come up higher and higher to a full sit up.

Progression #2: Keep opposing leg off the floor slightly for added resistance

Progression #3: Both legs coming off the floor during the crunch in a “V-Sit” position vs. one leg at a time. Hold at the top. Slow roll down to starting position.

Progression #4: Add a medicine ball or weights to use when bringing the arms overhead to meet the crunch position.

“CRUNCH VARIATION”- Start in basic crunch position. Ensure that hands are behind head (place one on top of each other, not laced,) elbows are back and dancer is looking up to ceiling. They should envision that there is an apple or an orange under their neck at all times, so they engage the crunch from their core, not from the chin. Start with a slow 4-count crunch, getting higher and higher every count. Hold at the top. Pulse for 8 counts with short movements. Hold 8-counts. Lower down to start position with a slow 4-count. Make sure dancers are breathing and exhaling on the contraction as they come up. Repeat 15-20 times and build from there.

Progression: After 8-count pulse, hold for 8-counts and then from that position proceed with another 4-count crunch lifting even higher into a full sit-up position.

“PLANK VARIATION”- Start in a basic push-up position. Ensure the dancer is in proper spinal alignment. Head is in line with the spine. Core is engaged. Hold this isometric position for one minute.

Progression #1: Come down to forearms to plank position and repeat hold for another minute.

Progression #2: “Up, Up, Down, Down”- Push back up to push-up position, one arm at a time R/L, then back down to plank position on forearms. R/L Repeat 15-20 times.

Progression #3: “Four-Count Sideways Walk”- Stay in plank position. Make sure body stays in alignment and hips don’t rise to a V-Position. Take four slow walks to the right. Four walks back to center. Repeat left. Back to center. Repeats 15-20 times

LOWER ABDOMINALS:

#1. Four count Leg Lifts: Have dancers lay on back with arms extended in the air in front of them, perpendicular to their legs. Begin with legs stretched out in front of them. Slowly lift both legs to meet the arms for four counts and then slowly lower the legs back to neutral (an inch off the floor) for four counts. Repeat ten times. Be sure dancers contract lower back into the floor and use the breath to guide the movement.

Progressions: Increase repetitions. Add ankle weights. Add light 2-3 pound dumbbells.

#2 Double Leg Circles: What is essentially a double ronde de jambé en lair while laying down, dancers should attempt this challenging position slowly and start with one leg at a time if core is not yet strong enough to attempt both legs. Laying on back, legs start straight in the air. Slowly open the legs to second and circle back up to starting position. The slower, the more effective. Be sure to not arch lower back and stay rooted in the floor. Repeat 5 times. Reverse the direction of the legs for another 5 repetitions.

Progressions: Increase repetitions. Do not allow legs to touch the floor in between each repetition.

#3 V-Sit Flutters: Have dancers start in a V-sit position. Legs extended in the air. Arms lengthened, reaching long, sitting on top of sits bone and pulling up with long necks. Hold for 8 counts. Arms change to 5th. Flutter the legs up and down for 8-16 repetitions. Repeat V-sit hold for 8 counts. Repeats flutters for 8-16 repetitions.

Progressions: Increase repetitions. Incorporate a, “scissor” series after flutters where arms open to 2nd port de bras and legs open to 2nd and close either back to neutral or to cross into 5th.