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Reaching New Heights: Natasha C.

 

April Client of the Month, Natasha C.!

 

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Natasha C. has pretty dancer lines, a wonderfully focused and hard working attitude, and plenty of potential for a career in dance. We met two summers ago while I was teaching contemporary dance at Contra Costa Ballet in Walnut Creek.  
  
The following summer, I again had the privilege of teaching Natasha and was happy to see that she had improved nicely over the year. Through Contra Costa Ballet's detailed technical training and eye for excellence, an inspiring summer away at Ballet Austin,  and Natasha's love of dance, determination and great work ethic,  she was beginning to transform into a solid dancer.

reachingnatashaIn order to be as strong and prepared as possible for her upcoming summer program auditions, Natasha began studying Pilates at Aspire about 6 months ago. Like most  dancers, she was concerned about the height of her leg extensions, her strength, flexibility and balance, and the potential for injury. Having a delicate, ballerina-sized frame that had not yet come into it's power, she had only glimpsed her future potential when we began working together.

  

Like all human beings, dancers develop unhealthy compensation patterns in order to succeed with movement. This over use of certain muscles and under use of others, hinders athletic performance and often causes pain. As with all Aspire clients, we began with our "inside out" path of strengthening and stabilizing Natasha's core. As her core strength increased, Natasha quickly discovered that movements initiated from this deep, center of the body were suddenly stronger, easier, more graceful, and didn't hurt.

  

Our next task was to focus more specifically on the alignment and stability of Natasha's foot, ankle, knee, hip and spine. Natasha has beautiful "banana" or "croissant" feet, as they are referred to in the dance world. "Banana/ croissant foot" is admired for the high graceful arch which gives a dancer's lines a lovely, polished look. However "croissant foot" is often accompanied by weakness in the ankles and feet.  And weakness in any joint usually translates into wobbles of instability, loss of power in movement, and possible pain in the future. 

 

"Soon after starting to work at Aspire," says Natasha, "I found that I began to use muscles that I didn't even know that I had. My big toe, which had always refused to point with the rest of my foot, now curls over with the rest of my toes.  Right away, my ankles started getting stronger and more stable." 


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Natasha knew that she wanted her leg extensions to be high and turned out, but couldn't quite get her
leg up without pain in the front of her hip.
"When I figured out how to connect my core to the rest of my body," says Natasha, "my whole body became more flexible. My extension got higher without the "ginching" of my hip flexor. My turnout improved and I could suddenly balance for FOREVER." "Ginching" is dancer speak for "ouch."
  
Taking Pilates right before her dance classes and rehearsals meant that Natasha was already warmed up without being fatigued, and able to access the correct muscles from the very first note played in class. She was soon thrilled to discover that "my ankles and body no longer wobble on promenades and I can jump much higher with less effort." 

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Each day Natasha continues to get stronger, more flexible, better balanced, and smarter in her body and approach to movement. Using Pilates technique, she has excelled beautifully and has "leap frogged" forward in her dance progress during her past 6 months of training.
  

After being accepted to several world class summer dance programs, Natasha is excited to be off to the prestigious Miami City Ballet in Florida. She will get to enjoy the sun and sand, while training with fellow ballerinas from across the country. Natasha has begun to open her beautiful, newly found wings as a young butterfly and will soon take to the skies. 

     
Best of luck, Natasha! We can't wait to see your name in lights!

 


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