Breathing for Dancers


Breathing in ballet is a necessity - not just to get you through that Grand Allegro combination, but to enhance your port de bras, develop the dynamics of your movement and bring life to you dancing.  Breathing can assist your co-ordination, help you developing control and increasing your stamina (for that Grand Allegro next time!)  Let’s look at three examples.

Port de bras is more than just shaping your arms into a position.  It should involve your spine, your head, your eyeline, and importantly – your breath.  Think about how you do a simple ports de bras – you could just lift your arm through 1st to 3rd then out through 2nd and you could probably make a nice shape, but how do we give it life?  Try again, and before you lift your arms, breathe in and lengthen your spine, now your breath catches your fingers and lifts your arms, you spine, and your eyes upwards and outwards with impetus until your arms are in 3rd. From the top of your 3rd, feel feel the end of the intake of your breath and as you breathe out, allow your arms to reach out through the space around you through your 2nd back to bras bas.

Breathing can help us control our balance.  Try balancing at the barre in pirouette position.  Rather than just taking your hands off the barre and hoping for the best, try and use your breath to help you be stable.  Stand in your pirouette position at the barre – before you take your hands off, breath in deeply.  As you breathe out, feel your supporting leg pushing down into the floor as your spine lengthens upwards with the crown of your head then float your hands off the barre.  The push down of your supporting leg and the lift of your diaphram as you breath out will help you balance.

Complicated movements like a pirouette can be aided if we use our breathing properly.  Take a pirouette en dedands from 4th as an example.  As you plie in your preperation, breath outwards.  Keep plieing as your breath out and as you find the absoloute depth of your plie, breath in sharply and releve into your turn.  The co-ordinated breathing action will help you bring your arms and your retire into position at the same time helping to stabilize your turn.

Learning to breath deeply as your dance inhances your movements and helps develop your lung capacity, in turn developing your stamina.  Think about your breathing next time you are in class – don’t be afraid to try something new and see what you discover!