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Ballet Leg Swings

In ballet class, we often take leg swings in attitude to warm up and stretch out our legs and hip flexors. "Attitude" is the ballet term for when your leg is slightly bent but still turned out - not being sassy! Today my teacher taught a variation that I loved and had never done before, so I wanted to share it! You definitely don't have to be a dancer to do this, but if you are, it could be a great addition to your leg swings and barre warm-up.

Traditionally, we take these swings front and back, brushing the floor in between. It is important to do your best to maintain proper posture and alignment for this - try to keep your standing leg straight and stable, so you aren't bending it just to get your moving leg up higher. This movement is not about how high you can get your leg, it is about warming and loosening up your hip and leg muscles! You want your legs turned out, so your inner thigh is rotating up toward the ceiling and your knees point out to the side. Also, try to keep your upper body fairly stable and your core engaged. Usually you don't want to move your upper body much during ballet if you are doing grand battements or other large leg movements, but this is more of a warm-up than a true exercise, so it is ok for your torso to naturally shift forward and back a bit as you swing your leg.

The part that was unique in this sequence today was that we used the momentum from swinging the leg to the front to turn our body to face the barre, and then took leg swings to the side and across the front of our body, facing the barre! This stretches the hip flexors and iliotibial band (the muscles along the outside of your knee) in a way that I don't usually access in ballet, since it isn't in the typical ballet turn out position. I really liked it, and found that it helped loosen up these muscles! To return to the front and back leg swings, use the momentum from the side swing to turn your body back around. Do 8 or 16 in each position, then switch sides.

P.S. I have been going to the open adult ballet classes at the Joffrey in Chicago since moving here, and I really love them! I take the Intermediate or Advanced ballet classes. The studio is beautiful, as you can see, and all the teachers I have had have been great. I really hope to continue coming to keep up my ballet practice and technique and continue dancing regularly in medical school! It is a great stress reliever and it just makes me so happy to have some time to dance!


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