11 Reasons for Adult Ballet Dancers to Love the Gyrotonic® Method
Annie Ashmann at her studio, Expand, Movement & Wellness in Crystal Lake, Illinois, where Nikki Ozment interviewed Annie for the Ballet for Adults Podcast Season 1, Episode 5 ~ Gyrotonic® Method & Adult Ballet. Photographs by Chelini & Oeffling
When you first hear about a trending movement method, most dancers are already familiar with it. If you haven’t heard of The Gyrotonic® & Gyrokinesis® Method, that’s ok, I am still new to it too. At first I thought it would help me keep going as an adult ballet dancer because I had heard it was developed by a ballet dancer with healing in mind. I had hurt my “good knee” and was in a bit of a valley with my confidence in the dance studio. “Yoga for Dancers” was its first name and now, having trained for six months with The Gyrotonic Method®, it is something that I plan to continue long term.
Finding Gyrotonic® was an unexpected discovery, because like most ballet dancers, I tend to cherry-pick aspects of exercise methods, such as Pilates, Barre, or Yoga in my workouts. With Gyrotonic®, there is a depth to this program that aligns with dancers and I will be challenged to learn more even as I age. It is a unique, holistic approach to movement. Where other exercise techniques are primarily linear, Gyrotonic® is based on circular, three-dimensional movement, working on three planes as much as possible. It uses breath & rhythm and works to harmonize the whole body and mind. There is an emphasis on rotation and spiraling movement that has no end point. It is very connected to one’s “center”, and for dancers, so very complementary to the art of ballet.
Breathing techniques are incorporated while performing circular rotations on the pulley tower.
The Gyrotonic Expansion System® has the two main method programs: Gyrotonic® (machine based exercises) and Gyrokinesis® (mat & chair exercises). These methods fit seamlessly with adult ballet dancers and we highly recommend adding it to your adult ballet life.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Dancers are unique, and Gryrotonic® was created by a professional ballet dancer. The founder, Juliu Horvath, danced with the New York City Opera and was a principal dancer with Houston Ballet.
2. You can wear aspects of your ballet wardrobe. These trainers understand ballet “junk”. I even like to wear my ballet shoes.
3. Gyrotonic® was first called “yoga for dancers” and draws from ballet, yoga, gymnastics, swimming and Tai Chi. It is low impact, and very gentle. It is appropriate for all ages.
4. It’s really deep, from a deep internal strength, to a deeper understanding of the physiology of dance, to the deepest spiritual exercise you can muster.
5. You feel like you’ve just done a ballet class in a whole new way. Adult ballet dancers must often find ways to supplement their training with workouts that are inline with their ballet classes.
6. Gyrotonic® focuses on joint health, joint strength, and the connective muscles. For dancers, this can be related to body awareness, range of motion, core strength, balance, coordination, and agility. Uhhh…yes please.
Trainers are hands-on, gently directing and adjusting the body as exercises are performed. Photographed here: Adult ballet teacher Juliette Oeffling from The Illinois Dance Conservatory, and Illinois Youth Dance Theatre, with Annie Ashmann.
7. It is designed to fit your needs and ability. From the highest skilled professional dancer to elderly adult ballet students recovering from a hip injury. Private sessions are uniquely individualized.
8. Dancers supporting dancers. Your trainer is most likely a ballet dancer, and often the studio itself is owned by a former dancer.
Gyrotonic® exercises are for a wide range of clientele, and can be tailored to all ages, all levels of ability. Photographed here: Adult ballet teacher Juliette Oeffling, Nicole Ozment and Annie Ashmann
9. Gyrotonic® has two levels of specialization for dancers that combines the kinetic fundamentals of classical and contemporary dance with the Gyrotonic® Expansion System. I am quite a ways from being a part of these sessions and find that starting at the Gyrotonic Method® as a post professional dancer is challenging enough. I want to take my time and enjoy this journey.
10. Because I said so. Just kidding. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any more reasons why adult ballet dancers should be practicing Gyrotonic®.
11. Just like ballet classes, Gyrotonic® studios can be found worldwide. A studio search function can be found on the Gyrotonic® website. The site also includes a lot of great information, such as videos and articles.
Thinking of giving it a try? Listen to our podcast on Gyrotonic® and Adult Ballet to find out even more.
View the home site of Annie Ahsmann, Expand Movement & Wellness, Crystal Lake, IL.