Ballet Class

Sessions are every Saturday from 5.30 to 7.00pm at Pitt Meadows Airport.

For years skating coaches have been encouraging their skaters to take ballet classes to aid in the skater’s on-ice performance. What parent or coach hasn’t heard their skater say, “What has ballet got to do with skating?” Does ballet really enhance the skater’s performance or on-ice technique? The “skating experts” say yes, and so do the ballet pros. But what is it specifically that is taught and practiced in ballet that relates to the specific elements on the ice?

Do ballet and dance really have a valid application to all disciplines of figure skating?

First let’s look at the posture needed to correctly perform the technical skating elements. The skater needs a strong core body to connect the upper and lower body for controlled powerful movements. He must be able to keep his shoulders over his hips throughout jumps, spins, footwork and edges. He must also be able to check his shoulders against his hips in Mohawks, 3-turns, brackets, rockers, counters, and Choctaws. Thus it is to the skater’s benefit to become aware of the feeling of twisting in the middle of the torso, and also the feeling of staying square. These feelings are very isolated and often times the younger skater doesn’t know or feel this movement in the torso, because he hasn’t developed body awareness, or there are just too many “things” to think about at once.

Ballet teachers spend hours teaching students correct ballet posture; which is the same posture needed for skating. This correct posture is a neutral spine with the shoulders over the hips. The shoulders also need to be depressed with the rib cage connected and the spine lifted. The ballet student is taught to engage the lower abdominal muscles while maintaining a neutral spine. As the skater is working at the barre, he is training his body to maintain correct posture while moving isolated body parts. At the same time, he is developing the ability to apply core strength by engaging the abdominal muscles, thus learning to connect the upper and lower body for strong, powerful movements.

Maintaining neutral spine is essential to on-ice elements and ballet technique. The control needed comes from control of the hips through neutral spine. Ballet teaches the skater how to move the pelvis without losing balance or disconnecting the center in footwork sequences, including pirouette turns, jumps and leaps across the floor. With every movement, in either skating or ballet, there is a weight shift from one foot to the other which causes a constant change in the center of balance within the body. Having a good sense of balance is critical to a skater’s alignment. This directly affects the skater’s edge quality, footwork, preparation for a jump and maintaining his balance over his axis while rotating. It also aids in strong landings. The combination of core control and balance allows the skater to use the strength he has developed in his off-ice training. Once an athlete gains a strong core and is able to apply his strength, then he is able to develop the quickness required in rotations, fast footwork and quick change of edge or direction.

Correct placement, power and quickness are addressed in ballet classes through basic skills such as plies, tendus, degages, frappe, fouette and grand battement. These movements teach the basic “snap through the hips, knees, ankles and feet” used for skating basics such as power for stroking, pushing through the feet for jumps, and of course agility in quick footwork.

As the skater progresses in dance and skating, both disciplines focus on details of the basics, extension of body lines, flexibility while maintaining body alignment, quality of movement, and development of strength, and confidence. The skater learns to perform to different music rhythms, tempos, count the beats of the music and how style and carriage change with the mood or theme of the music thus establishing a dynamic range in presentation.

While ballet is often thought of as one more thing to do, it is the ballet that teaches the skaters how to perform, to interpret and express their music by telling a story or conveying an emotion through the connecting steps of their program. This is what makes the difference between a program that is all jumps with a lot of crossovers or stroking between the jumps, and a program that is interesting, artistic and pleasant to watch. 

About FIT Consult

On Ice Training

- Daily freeskate sessions
- Private and small groups lessons
- Ice shows

Location: Langley Sportsplex

Off Ice Training

- Off ice jumps, strength and conditioning
- Ballet
- Ballroom, shuffle and choreography

Location: 604 - 11715 Baynes Rd, Pitt Meadows Airport