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Ballet from the Viewpoint of a Dancer
on February 9, 2007
Ballet improves your posture and gives you a sense of grace even when you are not working out. The New York City Ballet workout presents exercises in a formal ballet style setting. Your body becomes a paintbrush, sweeping along walls and floors in beautiful choreography like an artist painting on black art paper.
For minutes at a time you forget you are not a ballerina as you work through the warm-up with first and second position. Fluid movements follow as you move from side to side and then put a spring in your step. A floor routine follows with leg stretches and then you work your abs in every possible way, although each movement is so precise you are getting double the workout in half the time.
The unique and challenging postures and dance steps are explained as you are doing them, although at times the choreography takes center stage as the narration lessens and you focus more on the dancers instead of following the cueing.
This is a well structured, intermediate to advanced workout that requires a sense of determination, some experience with Pilates and possibly Yoga. The jumps are the most challenging and the entire workout fine tunes your balance. There are 17 exercise sessions and bonus programs including video diaries, behind the scenes footage and interviews.
Back exercises appear during the floor workout, but you are using your entire body at all times because most of the workout requires you to be super focused and keep your balance so you may feel this the most in your back after the workout. Throughout the exercises classical music guides you into a peaceful space where you feel relaxed even though you are working out at a fairly high level that requires patience and endurance.
With frequent pacing changes, you are working out slow one minute and fast the next. The rapid movements get your heart beating faster, but the graceful flowing movements make you feel more relaxed.
The narration made me feel very relaxed, so the entire first two-thirds of the second workout seemed more relaxing and centering than invigorating. The exercises begin with a warm-up and progress to dance steps, floor exercises for the abs, legs and arms. During the exercises you do have to count for yourself and there are bonus exercises later in the program that you can add in to your own routine.
While I found it much easier to follow the first DVD, the second DVD has much more complex moves and you need a much higher degree of intense concentration and precise balance to enjoy the exercises. Having some split-sole sneakers might help with the jumping, but you can do most of the workout in bare feet or with ballet slippers.
The booklet in the second DVD shows more of the exercises and has a glossary for Turnout, Demi Plié, Grand Plié, Releve, Tendu, Dégagé, Passé, Fondu, Grand Battement, Changement de pieds, Pas de Basque and Piqué Arabesque. On the DVD, all of these are shown in detail in a section in the special features.
After trying the workout a few times, you may also want to personalize it and there is a way to select specific exercises and then play them all at once for your own personalized routine. The sections you can choose from include:
Floor Barre Supine
Floor Barre Side Lying
Floor Barre Prone
Plié & Tendu
Passé & Fondu
Grand Battement & Little Jumps
An inspirational "Born to Dance" segment features all the dancers in their daily life and there is also a behind-the-scenes bonus feature as well as a number of promos for fitness studios in New York. What do dancers do after exercising? The first DVD gives a more detailed look into the dancers' lives, but this DVD has a combined section that briefly explores the dancers' interests when not dancing. Overall, the second workout is more complex and progresses into real dance steps so you can feel like a real dancer.
~ The Rebecca Review