You already dedicate so much time and energy to ballet. Between multiple technique classes, rehearsals, performances, pre-class warm-ups, time after class spent working on whatever you are struggling with…you come home at the end of the day feeling drained and spent. Like you gave your all to your craft.
But, here’s the dilemma - you still want to get better.
You still aren’t where you want to be with your ballet technique and artistry, even with you giving your all. You know you need to do more to improve, yet you have so few resources left over to put into anything extra. You’re pretty much maxed out on time and energy. In other words, your pockets are empty, and you have no way to pay the toll to get any further.
So, how do you fix this? If you already have 100% of your time and energy devoted to ballet, how do you put more into your dance training when you have nothing more to give? The solution isn’t in doing more of the same training you’ve been doing all along. No...
You have to train differently.
With the traditional training route (taking technique class after technique class), you need a lot of time to get results. It's inefficient. Look how long it takes to become proficient at ballet technique. Most of us start at a very young age and go through years and years of technique classes, often multiple times a day, seven days-a-week, to be able to do advanced technique properly. And, I feel like I’m still just starting to figure things out now after 30+ years of this stuff😉
As far as I can tell, there are two components to class that allow us to improve:
Now, the best way to master a skill is typically through repetition, which technique class covers quite well. As for the strength component, that is where technique class is missing the punch. The exercises at barre and center are designed to build the strength needed for these crazy unnatural positions used in ballet...however, most dancers don’t know how to use those exercises to build strength. They just go through the motions, gaining the repetition for skill acquisition but not muscular strength. Plus, at a certain point, the exercises in class just aren’t enough to keep you progressing – they can’t provide sufficient stimulus, no matter how hard you work at them. (Then, there is a whole other factor involving class design, which we won’t get into since that is in the teacher's hands.)
But, what if you could separate out the strength component and focus on it outside of class? If you used cross-training with the specific purpose of enhancing your strength, you could level up in a fraction of the time and to levels that might have been unreachable with technique class alone. Instead of taking 10 years to build the strength required to perform advanced technique...it takes 6 months. Instead of spending 30 extra hours in the studio training every week trying to get ahead...you spend 30 minutes in the gym once or twice a week.
This then frees you up to use technique class to singularly focus on enhancing your skill set. With your energy and effort no longer split between the two components vying for attention, you can get even better results in the skills department. This has the potential to really bring your artistry to fruition. Not to mention, it makes class a lot more enjoyable, as well;)
So, back to our beginning dilemma:
Since you don’t have tons of energy or effort to spare as a dedicated dancer, the goal with your cross-training should be efficiency. You now know you need strength to supplement your technique classes, so you want to find a way to build that strength as efficiently and effectively as possible. With a real purpose and goal, your cross-training can be used as a tool to help you level up in your ballet technique rather than just another slew of exercises thrown into your already overcrowded daily mix of chores.
Don’t miss this crucial point. Just because something is labeled as “cross-training” in your daily schedule doesn’t guarantee it will give you an edge with your ballet. All cross-training methods are not created equal and will not give you the same results. You have to know what you are looking for. You have to know what you need. You have to understand the science behind body transformation. And, you have to train smarter. You have to cross-train with the right intent – to enhance your strength.
Be efficient with your cross-training. Stop wasting your time and energy. Save them for your performances.