How do ballet dancers measure up to other athletes?
Ballet dancers are typically known for their grace, poise, and dedication – but professional dancers are often fitter and stronger than other traditional athletes.
A study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that the overall fitness of ballet dancers surpasses that of international swimmers.
The study compared members of the Royal Ballet and a squad of swimmers, including members of the Olympic team, and looked at a range of tests that examined measures of fitness including strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and psychological state.
Of these measures, the ballet dancers scored higher in seven of the 10 most important ones, when taking into account body size. One of those measures included grip strength – which in ballet dancers was 25% higher.
A separate study, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, pitted ballet dancers against team athletes to measure the lower-body endurance of each group.
For the study, 40 ballet dancers and 40 team athletes performed an initial test of jumping onto one leg from a 30-centimetre high platform. They then performed repetitions of step-ups and jumps to build fatigue, before jumping off the platform again.
The ballet dancers took significantly longer than the team athletes to become fatigued, the study found.
And in terms of muscle groups, it’s not just the legs that require focus. Ballet dancers rely on their back and core muscles to provide stability, and keep those muscles engaged throughout every movement – whether it’s at the barre or on the stage.
To see some of the country’s top ballet dancers on stage, book your tickets here to see the Cape Town City Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet at Oude Libertas this March.