Lithe, graceful, and elegant, dancers exist in a completely different realm than us mortals. Walking is not simply walking—every step is filled with purpose, with nary a slouch or hunch in sight. To tap into some of this grace—mainly in the hopes of improving our own slouch-filled existence—we tapped three professional dancers to share their best secrets for a taller, better, more dancer-like posture. Turns out, there’s a lot of stretching involved. Keep scrolling to find out the secret to carrying yourself like a dancer!
Who: Melinda Sullivan, Professional Dancer
Posture Tip: “I call it the ‘doorway stretch’—it’s an oldie, but goodie. My mother, who is a very talented physical therapist, taught my siblings and I this when we were young. It's as easy as it sounds. You just stand in a doorway and place your arms up on either side of the doorway in the ‘goal’ position, placing the inside of your bent arms on the surface of the wall. Lean or take a step forward, and feel the stretch on your pecks and the opening of your chest. Try it with each foot forward. It's incredibly effective, and you don't need any props.
This is a tip that has helped me maintain my posture to support my dancing, as well as counteract the hours of driving, computer time, and traveling that I do!”
Who: Kassandra Cruz, Professional Dancer at Ballet Hispanico
Posture Tip: “I struggle with my posture and actually have to pay close attention to it throughout the day. I find that my shoulders and neck hold tension after a long day of rehearsal, and often, taking the time to stretch my neck allows some tension to release—this helps me avoid slouching. I take my right hand over my head and pull my head away from left shoulder, while actively reaching down with my left hand. I do this to both sides. It creates a nice stretch on the side of the neck and really helps to prevent slouching afterwards.”
Who: Gia Calhoun, Professional Dancer and Pilates Instructor
Posture Tip: “I think the key to having good posture is having a strong core. A strong core supports your back, which makes you stand taller. If you visualize pulling your abdominals in and up, it will engage your abdominals so you can create length in your spine. There is a great Pilates exercise called the Hundred that engages your core this way. To do the Hundred, you lie down on your back with your legs extended up at a 45 degree angle, arms reaching long by your sides, head curled up in a crunch.
Making small pumps with your arms, you will inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. You can focus on pulling your abs in and up the whole time, especially when you exhale. You repeat this breathing pattern 10 times, which completes the total Hundred.”
Have you tried any of these posture tips? Click here to find out exactly how top ballerinas really eat!