I like to think of ballet and figure skating as friends. In fact, I would even guess they’re related — so let’s say they’re cousins. I can see them both having a great time catching up over casserole at the family reunion potluck. They commiserate over grotesque growths on their heels and ankles, share a laugh while executing a perfect split, and can hum the tune of the Nutracker’s Pas De Deux by heart.
Both ballet and figure skating require immense body awareness, balance, muscle control and strength. Yet there are obvious differences — such as surface area, climate and bedazzling sequins — that glaringly separate the two worlds. Ballet has long been a highly favored off-ice conditioning tool for figure skaters, but I believe more and more coaches are favoring other conditioning methods over ballet such as plyometric training due to the higher technical demands of the sport.
Unfortunately this mentality is a terribly misguided choice as correct ballet teaching provides a skater with the correct body alignment, positioning and strength to lower the risk of injuries. Ballet provides the foundation of movement and trickles out to every part of skating whether it be the body alignment and quick snap for going into a double axel or interpreting a piece of choreography with full body movement.
This is why I am so thankful for Annette Thomas and what she is doing to bridge the gap between ballet and movement on the ice for figure skaters. A dancer and choreographer for over 30 years, she has dedicated the past 20-plus years to educate the figure skating community on the most effective ballet curriculum for figure skaters’ specific needs. Her new “Ballet for Figure Skaters” DVD puts the first level of her curriculum onto the screen for skaters all over the world to see.
As the official ballet program of American Ice Theatre, the DVD starts with Thomas teaching the foundational ballet exercises taken from the Vaganova method. What’s so special about this curriculum is that after Thomas goes through a class featuring floor, barre and center exercises, she puts her dancers into skates to repeat how the exercises are done in this new form. This invaluable education provides a skater the skills to directly apply the Vaganova exercises to on-ice movement.
The DVD is broken up into four sections: Preliminary exercises, barre work, center exercises, and then a review of the exercises with skates on. Annette’s education shines through the DVD as she is very thorough and explains every detail for each exercise making it easy to digest and comprehend. As this is the first lesson in the DVD series, it is perfect for beginners and those who may have a limited background in ballet. Annette is also an incredibly nice woman so if you have any questions, I’m sure she would love to chat!
Through my own experience, this DVD is incredibly useful to use being on the road traveling and performing. Since I’m away from home, being able to take a consistent class through this DVD is fantastic as a warm-up, cool down and conditioning session in the studio.This DVD is a precious resource for skaters of all levels to transfer ballet movement to the ice.
To order a copy please email Annette directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.