No ballerina worth her tutu would dance before she warmed up. And you can bet your degage derriere that the prince plies before he leaps.
"It may look easy, but it's 1 percent talent and 99 percent work," says Nora Koito Kimball, 21, a member of the Stuttgart Ballet, currently appearing at the Kennedy Center. Kimball begins a typical day with a 90 minute class to prepare her body for a 90 minute rehearsal. The dancers also have a 30 minute warm-up before three to four hours of performance.
Warming up is vital before any kind of strenuous exercise, says Alan Beale, the company's assistant director. "Always start at the bottom and work your way up the body. Start with plies (knee bends) for the legs, then work the feet, calves, thighs and so on."
Ballet exercises can be excellent warm-ups for other sports such as jogging, racquetball, tennis or golf. A chair or tabletop is a good substitute for the dancer's barre , but it's just for balance and should not be hung onto for dear life.
Kimball and 19-year-old Tamas Detrich are pictured demonstrating several ballet exercise anyone who is in reasonably good shape can try. "They are controlled, experienced dancers," reminds Beale. "So don't be discouraged if you don't look exaclty as they do." CAPTION: Piture 1, The grande plie or deep-knee bend, shown here in second position, is one of the first exercise performed in a ballet class. Keep knees over toes, don't let them bow forward , and keep heels on the floor for maximum stretch.
by Ken Feil-The Washington Post; Piture 2, Cambre a la second, a side bend done here with foot pointed in second position, is an excellent torso stretch. Begin by standing straight with arm overhead, then bend to the side. Imagine a continuous line running from your toe out your arm, keep your arm long, knees straight and foot turned out so your hell pushes forward.; Picture 3, Rest your foot on a table or a chairback to try this leg stretch. With your arm over your head, your back long (not collapsed) and both knees straight, bend forward over your raised leg as far as you can comfortably.; Picture 4, Dancers dub this a "torture tug" (which the novice might prefer to omit). Brave souls can begin by grasping the heel with the hand, bringing the leg forward and then to the side, straightening both knees. Hold 2 to 10 seconds, let go of your heel and lower the straight leg slowly to the floor.