Classic Dance Moves Inspire Dynamic Pilates Practice

by Leslie Braverman on March 26, 2018

Holly Shaw and Leslie Braverman, STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainers at PNWP, are professional dance movers and expert Pilates instructors. This spring their passions align to inspire unique and innovative movement when their new workshop—Stability & Stamina on the Barre and Reformer—premieres at the 2018 IQ of Movement Conference.
Q: What is Stability & Stamina on the Barre and Reformer?
A: It’s the perfect Pilates programming for any dancer and the next step in three-dimensional, multi-segmented movement on the Pilates reformer for everyone. Dancers don’t move in straight lines and neither do you!
Here’s the short list of concepts you’ll learn when you take this workshop:

“Stability & Stamina on the Barre and Reformer unites bio-mechanical principles of STOTT PILATES with deeply practiced and applied wisdom of dance.” —Leslie Braverman

1. Perfect Pilates Programming for a Dancer
Dancers train their bodies in a specific way to meet the artistic and physical requirements of dance. The way a dancer links movement to appear effortless and seamless requires years of study and practice. They learn to shape their body—applying subtle variations in quality, rhythm and timing—to design movement in three dimensions.
Pilates and clinical practitioners who take the workshop will gain insight to the fundamental aspects of dance technique and learn to apply programming specifically to a dancer.  The ballet-informed exercises can be used to assess a dancer’s movement habits, and help practitioners analyze and monitor repetitive movement issues that can lead to break down and injury.
 For more information read Leslie’s interview with Pilates Pro about Pilates for Young Dancers.
2. Perfect Pilates Programming for the Non-Dancer
Pilates informed by the framework of dance opens up interesting, vital, practical and creative movement that is fun and beneficial for any Pilates student who is ready to coordinate movement and challenge their body in a new way. Choreography in this workshop explores how to link movement in multiple planes. It challenges one’s ability to stand on one leg and create power with the other, and  how to control the movement of the carriage from the center of the body while connecting exercise segments in a seamless way to develop fluidity and efficiency.

Explore movement in three planes.

3. Movement in Three Planes
Functional and dynamic movement takes place in multiple planes. Whenever we do an activity—vacuum, rake leaves, reach up to a shelf or push a heavy door—we enlist movement in three dimensions. Dancers are a specialized breed of movers, but principles remain the same for every body no matter how mundane the activity may be. We must organize our bodies to coordinate movement and integrate movement across multiple joints to move well.

Plié in forth position on the Pilates reformer.

4. The Power of Plié
Plié sounds fancy, but simply means “to bend.” The purpose of practicing a plié is to develop the strength and coordination to press firmly into the floor from one or two feet, gather power and transition smoothly into another step. A beautiful plié enables a dancer to connect steps and disguise when one movement stops and the next begins. Plenty of pliés can be applied to movement-off-the-stage too. The ability to smoothly ascend and descend stairs, kneel down and stand up on one leg, and bend the knees to reach an object all apply to aspects of a good plié.

Cat contraction on the Pilates Reformer performed by Leslie Braverman.

5. A Responsive & Adaptable Body
Dancers learn to coordinate the body and initiate movement in many different ways. The same dance step done with a different emphasis can look entirely different depending on the way the dancer chooses to assimilate the movement. A responsive body is adaptable; An adaptable body has many movement options and is healthier than a body that is stuck in one mode—as we progress a client from injury to full activity and beyond, we want to ramp-up the surprise and add new stimuli and challenge. In Stability & Stamina on the Barre and Reformer exercises encourage a client to move from the center of the body to the periphery or from the feet to the rest of the body and use ground forces to generate power. Movement may be taught initially at one pace and then altered to develop technique and awareness that is dynamic.

Leslie & Holly play with the new Cross-Bow developed by Merrithew Health and Fitness.

Take off Your Dancin’ Shoes

You don’t have to be a dancer to think like a dancer. Whether or not you plan to ever put on your dancing shoes or teach dancers, we encourage you to explore new movement and apply concepts used by dancers to effectively link movement, develop fluidity, grace, poise, stamina, balance and control.

 Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Learn all the basics in our five week Pilates Fundamentals series. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

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