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” digital DVD puts the first level of her curriculum onto the screen for skaters all over the world to see. Continue reading