Fairytale “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Andersen
– one doesn’t tend to associate Ballet Dancers with Soldiers -
although there are in fact, more similarities in our training
than one might have imagined.
dancers, we are forced from an early age to acquire many
specialized skills. Ultimately, we are required to obtain elite
levels of fitness, high amounts of self-discipline, forced to
continuously push physical boundaries, expected to handle hard
critic on a regular basis, as well as have the ability to
overcome injuries and invest in endless training for the
prevention of injuries. We are elite athletes and our careers
rely on being in the best physical shape.
been using Pilates as a rehabilitation method for decades.
However, Pilates was actually originally created during World
War 1, where the Founder of the system, Joseph Pilates, used his
method to rehabilitate injured soldiers. Unlike most, Pilates
would not see a bed ridden amputee as a disabled man with only
one leg, but a highly skilled, fit young soldier – with 3
perfectly working limbs. Using his vast experience in physical
training, he wasted no time in getting these men back exercising
on a daily basis, by quite simply reworking the structural
aspects of the old style hospital bed frames, removing and
reattaching springs - therefore allowing the patient to apply
movement and resistance to muscles - despite the fact that they
were bed bound. The results were outstanding. The Soldiers
experienced far speedier recoveries, as well as significantly
improved body alignment, increased core strength and more
refined coordination and balance.
Almost 100 years on, a heavy influx of wounded soldiers were
being sent home to Denmark with monstrous disabilities and
amputations. Worrying reports were highlighted within the media,
concerning the lack of rehabilitation efforts, and it was
impossible to sit back and do nothing. With the support of The
Royal Danish Ballet Foundation, a small group of dancers decided
to approach ‘Rigshospitalet’ with a proposal of offering our
help. As well as being elite ballet dancers – my colleague
Jessie Lee and I, are also certified Pilates Instructors and
wondered if we could use our expertise as movement specialists,
to train the soldiers in Pilates, a biomechanical and anatomic
movement system designed to improve motor control and functional
movement of the body.