Up until early teenage, I used to get to the ballet school just in time to start right away. I never knew the importance of warming up and getting ready for class until I turned 15.
When changing ballet schools and attending a Summer Intensive for the first time, I saw everyone getting to the studio 30 to 40 minutes early and warming up. I started asking myself why I was not doing it as well.
Since then, I have created a warm up routine that – to this day – I cannot live without. And I actually have a harder time in class whenever I arrive late to the studio.
I started experimenting with new exercises and simple stretches that I knew would help me have a better class and prepare my body for the long day ahead.
These are the 5 things that cannot miss on my everyday warm-up routine:
1. Rolling: All kinds of rollers accepted! I start to roll my back with a foam roller and massage my feet with a green foot-roller. This habit gets my muscles ready and circulating for future movement, taking cramping and soreness out.
2. Warming up my feet: Even though I have ‘good feet for ballet’ – as people call them – I still need them to stay strong. Different theraband exercises are a must in my routine.
Dancing with cold feet not only gets them cramped up, but also I don’t get the freedom of movement and strength needed to raise on pointe. And as Steven McRae (Principal , The Royal Ballet) says, “If my feet are warm the rest of my body warms up easier.”
3. Stretching my legs (quads and hamstrings): Without this, my legs feel heavier, less free to move. Because I have big quads, I make sure these muscles are all stretched as well as my hamstrings; especially for those splits, big jumps and adagios.
4. Stretching my hips: Oh, hip flexors! I am pretty sure these get cramped the most. I make different (and definitely weird) positions to get deep in the hips. I also never miss those positions to open them up, just so I can feel my turnout.
5. Back movements: Arabesques and attitudes are definitely one of my weaknesses. Without a flexible back, I find it really uncomfortable to hold attitudes correctly or achieve a full penché. I make sure that my back is moving (I hear some cracks along the way) and the muscles are ready to take the most challenging holding positions (for me!).
With a new season starting in few weeks, always make sure you are 100% ready for class; this way your body will not be shocked by immediate movements and definitely avoid injuries.
Most importantly, make sure that everything you do works for YOU. Your body is your instrument… take care of it!