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Proper Posture In Dance

Not only can good posture help you appear confident and taller in everyday activities but proper posture is crucial for a dancer to perform at his/her best. A dancer can achieve proper posture for his/her body with various means of practice.

Proper posture is of significant importance for dancers for a few reasons. When working in proper posture movements are most efficient, limbs can reach maximum length, and joints can achieve full range of motion. When the body structure is out of balance from poor posture not only does a dancer fail to achieve ultimate technique in dance performance but risks injury as well. In poor posture muscles that are not intended to perform a specific movement must step up where another is failing, and failing to perform a movement using the correct muscle can lead to injury. Poor posture is caused by medical conditions, acute injury, and repeating the same poor movement habit. Dance places a special demand on the body and consciousness because it requires proper posture to engage the entirety of the body and mind while performing in order to achieve to the best of a dancer’s ability.

Consciously devoting energy to carrying oneself in proper posture can also help work those stabilizing muscles and muscle groups while building your body to carry itself that way unconsciously. As a dancer, educator, and movement specialist, I tend to lean toward the belief that movement happens from the inside out and the ground up. In the interest of fostering proper posture and achieving the utmost technical potential in dance, here is a step-by-step that I begin with for every new class:

  • FEET: Begin with feet planted firmly on the ground hip width apart in parallel. Feel as though the energy from the ground is coming up through your arches and is causing them to lift.

  • LEGS: Stretch your knees and quads fully and feel this stretch up through your hips and hip flexors (front of hips).

  • PELVIS: Point your tailbone toward the ground; Try to get it to point between your legs.

  • Shake your bum using your hands and make sure those glutes are relaxed! You should be using your inner thigh muscles (semi tendinosis & semi membranosis) to tilt your pelvis into alignment, not your glutes.

  • Place a hand on your lower abs (transverse abdominis) that runs side to side between your hipbones. This muscle should be engaged.

  • RIBS/MID BODY: Place a few fingers on that space where your ribs start to separate (end of your sternum where your xyphoid process is); Exhale and close that space bringing your rib cage together and feel the left/right sides of the rib cage closer together.

  • UPPER BODY: Relax your shoulders from your trapezius muscles as you expand your shoulder blades and shoulder girdle making your back just a little flatter.

  • NECK: Feel your neck grow tall as you imagine the energy running from the ground through your arches, up your legs, through your body, and out the top of your head

  • HEAD: Check your chin: does it need to point down or up, does it need to tuck or extend forward?

  • Breathe in and out without moving anything! Feel your lungs expand to meet the edges of the inside of the ribcage without moving the ribcage to expand the lung. Practice breathing this way while standing in proper posture.

Practice this side facing in a mirror so you can turn your head and see your posture. Close your eyes and note how it feels to be in that position. Take a few breaths using the breathing technique in Step 10 while holding the position. Practice achieving this posture repeatedly throughout the day and try some resources for learning, practicing, and getting feedback on your posture: yoga for dance, Pilates for dance, and ballet!

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