Female ballet dancers are often plagued by lower-extremity injuries. But why? Researchers in the U.S. and Australia recently analyzed studies published in the last 11 years to determine common risk factors for hip, knee, ankle and foot injuries in elite-level dancers. Here's what they found:


  1. Alignment issues
  2. Poor movement control in the lower back and pelvis
  3. Incorrect contraction of the deepest abdominal muscles
  4. Weakness in the lower extremities
  5. Insufficient aerobic fitness

Interestingly enough, long training hours and hypermobile hips and ankles were identified as injury risk factors specifically for recreational ballet dancers, but not those at the more experienced level. It's likely that, to advance to the next level, professionals have adjusted to a heavier schedule and have learned to balance hypermobility with strength to safely support their dancing.

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Ballet Training
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When the curtain falls, your work isn't over: That's exactly when post-show recovery begins. According to Carina Nasrallah, Houston Methodist athletic trainer for Houston Ballet, timing is everything. The 30 minutes after a performance is the optimal window to start combatting soreness and encourage muscle repair. Here, she shares the essential elements of a recovery plan from curtain call until bedtime.

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Viral Videos
Brittany Cavaco in Until Midnight. Claire Morris, Courtesy Cavaco.

A white tulle dress, time travel, the Eiffel Tower at night... these elements come together in Until Midnight, a new dance film by Christopher Alexander of Zen Film Works. This eight-minute long vignette opens with Louise (played by Louise Schirmer), a former ballerina now living alone in old age. Through the delivery of a mysterious letter and a wristwatch from her past, she returns briefly to her youthful self, danced by former Washington Ballet dancer Brittany Cavaco. In a Cinderella-like twist, Louise has until midnight to find her beloved Jean Pierre (Sebastien Thill, former dancer with Paris Opera Ballet and Hamburg Ballet) for one last dance. According to Cavaco, all of the movement was improvised, created by herself and Alexander in each location.

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Ballet Training
Peter Boal in class a New York City Center. Courtesy PNB.

"People have so much fear associated with arabesque turns," says Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Here, he shares images and ideas to help you confidently master this advanced pirouette. "It's a real accomplishment when you can put it all together."

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