Pilates and Dance
by Jillian Hessel
There is an erroneous impression that Pilates exercise was created by a dancer specifically for dancers, but nothing could be further from the truth. Joseph Pilates was not a professional dancer, nor did he create his workout regimen specifically for dancers. However, if you want to move with the grace and style of a dancer, and sport the strong sculpted muscles and flexibility of a dancer, Pilates may be the perfect workout for you!
Why? Simply because both Pilates and dance stress excellence of movement. In both disciplines, there is an emphasis on the purity of the form of the execution of each and every movement. In other words, there is an aesthetic in dance that coexists in Pilates exercise. Therefore, when you choose to do Pilates, the goal is not only about how much resistance you can push around (strength), or how many repetitions of a movement you can do (endurance), but also about how effortless and flowing you can make the movements look as you perform them.
What are the differences between Pilates and dance, you may ask? First and foremost, dance is usually performed to the rhythm of music, whereas classic Pilates uses the rhythm of the breath to set the dynamic of the movements. This makes Pilates a true mind-body discipline, because when you are focusing on breath control in conjunction with the movements you are doing, you cannot be concentrating on anything but the present, as you do when you are meditating.
Finally, dance is, after all, a performing art, and Pilates is a form of exercise. Pilates can be performed anywhere and anytime, whereas dance requires a more formal space (and usually a much larger one!). To enjoy the benefits of Pilates, all you need is a Pilates mat, and enough room to lie down on it.
With all of the wonderful books and instructional videos available these days, you don't even have to leave your home to walk with the ease and grace of a dancer, but only you will know that your secret weapon is Pilates exercise!