CROSS TRAINING: BENEFITING FROM PILATES
“The first time I experienced Pilates was when I was visiting friends in Los Angeles almost 30 years
ago,” explains Artistic Director Karen Kain. “I had heard that dancers from New York were doing Pilates, but no
one know about it or was teaching in Canada at the time.”
“Today I encourage dancers to explore how Pilates can
help them physically and mentally for their career,” she continues. “Pilates is an ideal form of complete
body conditioning as the focus is on strengthening the deep support muscles and balancing all muscle groups around the joints
of the entire body.”
For dancers, Pilates is beneficial for turnout and increases strength and power. “By re-balancing muscular
groups,” explains STOTT PILATES® co-founder Moira Merrithew, “dancers increase range of movement
and flexibility while also increasing strength and control throughout this greater range of movement.”
After an accomplished career with the City Ballet of Toronto and the Atlantic Ballet Company, Moira Merrithew went on to
retrain and certify as a Pilates instructor under the tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska at the original studio founded by the
late Joseph H. Pilates. Ms. Merrithew and President and CEO Lindsay G. Merrithew, in collaboration with physical therapists
and sports medicine professionals, spent more than a decade updating the original exercise method to include modern exercise
science and spinal rehabilitation principles to optimize safety and effectiveness.
Created by Lindsay G. Merrithew, the V2 Max Plus™ Reformer's vertical frame pulley system and exclusive retractable
rope system replicates the multi-dimensional movements of daily life. More specifically, overhead movements can be done in order
to focus on balance, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and spinal stability.
Jean Salas, former Soloist and qualified Fletcher Pilates teacher, was trained by STOTT PILATES® to instruct
dancers on the V2 Max Plus™; she works with approximately 6-12 dancers per week. “In ballet variations and corps
de ballet work, one dances the combination only on one side, either all to the left or all to the right,” explains Ms.
Salas. “This develops muscle imbalances.”
“Pilates helps with the awareness of the body, improves balance and symmetry, and develops strong, stretched
and lengthened muscles and a functional spine. I cross-trained in Pilates for 10 years, experiencing the benefits first-hand.
I want to share this skill with other dancers.”
MAKING DANCER WELLNESS A TOP PRIORITY
This official health programme for the dancers is designed to prevent injury and health problems, improve performance
and endurance and contribute to a longer, more productive dance career.
“The National Ballet’s Dancer Wellness Programme includes extensive physical testing resulting in a health plan of
action customized for each individual dancer,” explains Dr. Darrell Ogilvie-Harris, long-time Consulting
Orthopedic Specialist for The National Ballet of Canada. “An individualized plan may consist of cross training,
specific exercises such as Pilates or physiotherapy, nutritional counseling and psychological support. The idea is to provide
the dancer with the means to be their best.”
The Dancer Wellness programme also includes a series of seminars every year on healthy living specific for professional
dancers, given by recognized experts in the field. Last April, for example, Richard Gibbs, MD - former dancer and
Supervising Physician for San Francisco Ballet - was invited to Toronto to give a talk about his model facility: the San
Francisco Ballet's new Dancer Wellness Center, an innovative building that provides a full gym, whirlpool and a medical team
at the workplace for the dancers.
“Hopefully the future of this programme at the National Ballet will lead to more focus on the optimal health of
each individual, with a huge gain to the group as a whole,” continues Dr. Ogilvie-Harris. “Healthy dancers are
more creative and spectacular for audiences.”
“A dancer in prime health will be a better performer and can lead a more balanced personal life. They are more likely
to be physically and mentally stronger”