Pilates for Dancers Best Exercise #3

White House Pilates is back with another tip! I have to admit, this exercise is one of my favorites.

A flat board that replaces the foot bar on the reformer. You’re springing horizontally while engaging your core to initiate the jump rather than your legs. The lighter the spring, the more your abdominals have to work to stabilize your pelvis and back.

Upon take off- the abdominals initiate almost automatically to counter-balance the legs in the air. Think of pulling your navel down to the spine and draw it up towards the ribs. This exercise is excellent for teaching dance students to properly pull their weight up away from the floor and therefore, helping increase the height and form of the jump.

The landing is all about control. Rolling through the feet and getting the heels down in between jumps is crucial for injury prevention. Controlling the landing of your jumps is often the hardest thing to perfect in a dancer’s performance of petite/grande allegro. Dance teacher’s are always saying, “you should land your jumps with little to no sound at all.”

Increase your abdominal strength: While jumping curl your head and shoulder blades off the carriage of the reformer. This will help you engage your upper abominals and make you work harder!
Get Creative! Play around with seeing how many ballet jumps you can simulate while on the jump board. Most likely, you will master aentrechat six in no time!


Pilates for Dancers Best Exercise #2

I knew you couldn’t wait for the White House Pilates tip! Click on the photo below to learn the next ‘Pilates for Dancers Best Exercise #2.’

Leg Circles on the Reformer!

The very best exercise for strengthening the inner and outer thighs, increasing range of motion in the hip joints, and stabilization of the core.

Place both feet in the straps of the reformer and start small with you circles. Quality over quantity! Make sure you can stabilize your neutral spine before you make your circles bigger. Complete 10-12 circles keeping your tail bone anchored when you feet come up to the ceiling. Then reverse the direction.


  • Challenge your core work and stabilization by using the lightest resistance spring. (Peak Pilates Reformer= 1 blue spring, or on a Balanced Body Reformer= 1 yellow spring)
  • Work your inner and outer thighs and increase the stretch in your hamstrings by using a really heavy spring. (Peak Pilates= 2 yellow springs & 1 blue, Balanced Body= 1 red spring, 1 blue spring)

Leg Circles on the Mat!


  • Lie on your back on a yoga mat and pull your right leg into your chest. Leave your left leg lengthened down on the floor below you. Stretch your right leg and point your toe straight up the the ceiling. Your arms are by your side (more advanced) or out to the sides like a “T” (beginner).
  • Imagine a marble is balancing in the center of your neutral pelvis and don’t let your marble roll at all. You do this by stabilizing your torso by engaging your core.
  • Take your toe across your body and circle it down, around, and up. Exhale during the hardes part of the circle (most likely when the toe is farthest from your center.) Complete 8 circles then reverse the direction and repeat the exercise on the other leg.
  • Do NOT let your left hip move or lift off the mat at all. The point is to increase range of motion in your hips using the stabilization of the core. If your core is not stabilized you are not doing the exercise correctly and your core is not working.
  • Stabilization Tip! Imagine your foot on the floor is being pulled out away from the crown of your head. You want to feel like a rubber band being stretched from head to toe. Keep this line of energy throughout the circles and you will have a better foundation for stabilization.


White House Pilates – Pilates For Dancers

I’m proud to bring you an awesome series by White House Pilates called ‘Pilates For Dancers’! In the next few weeks, White House Pilates will exposes you to the Top 3 Best Pilates Exercises For Dancers.

Footwork on the Pilates Reformer

1st Position (Pilates V), Parallel, 2nd Position (Inner and Outer Rotation) and Releves, (Calf Raises).

1st Position (Pilates V), Parallel, 2nd Position (Inner and Outer Rotation) and Releves, (Calf Raises)
All positions of footwork on the Pilates Reformer are excellent for building ankle strength and stabilization for Pointe. Foot work exercises can also reduce the risk of injuries occurring in the feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates has gained a lot of media attention recently for its benefits. However, many people still don’t understand what it is. In attempts to educate, I came up with this brief list to describe Pilates.

– It was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.

Pilates was originally called Contrology, which means the study of controlling muscles.

– The principals of Pilates are centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow.

Pilates is a series of flowing exercises that start on the ground and progressively transition to seated exercises and finish with standing.

– Breathing in Pilates should coordinate with the movements, full inhalations and complete exhalations are thought to circulate the blood to renew the cells and refresh the body.

Pilates uses apparatus like balls, thera-bands, and even machines to help assist in movements or to challenge your strength.

– While the “powerhouse” (the abdominal core) is the main focus in every Pilates exercises, active engagement of the muscles and concentration are need as well.

– The benefits of Pilates are: improved strength, flexibility, balance, toning, long muscles, body awareness, and improve circulation.


Photo by Andrew Grant

On a personal note:

As a dancer, injuries are something I dreaded. Every time I found myself at the physical therapist it was the same thing, “do this exercises, for this long, and this many times.” Can I say boring!? After spending weeks on workers compensation for a bum back, I decided no more injuries and Pilates became my cross-training method. Not only was it valuable for my career but it improved my endurance, accuracy, and my overall technique. Today I’m a certified Pilates instructor and wholeheartedly believe in its teachings. In fact, it has been just over five years that I started practicing and I’m still injury free!