Why are maintenance exercises important for ballet?

Even principals work on their pliés!

Let’s learn about maintenance exercises and why you should be doing them.

Some people often ask me, why should I need to do all these extra exercises just to get my body ready for ballet? If I get my body strong, is that not enough?! Why do I need to do all of these exercises to maintain my ballet form?


The answer lies in the fact that there are many parts of ballet that are not a natural way for the body to move.

If you think about it, in ballet, we dance turned out, which is not the way that we normally walk or run – it would normally all be in parallel. Pointe or even demi-pointe isn’t a natural position, either – not very many people walk on pointe ever! Even the ballet posture, whilst mostly neutral, can be a little bit extended because of the layout of the stage and the audience.

“It can take a lot of work each and every day to even maintain that muscle activation.”

To actually to get your joints familiar with and keep them used to those different positions and movements, but also to keep your muscles in a condition where they’re able to activate very quickly and easily, you don’t want to have to spend lots of time thinking about which muscles you’re using to turn out when you’re dancing on stage.

You want your muscles just to NATURALLY know how to do that. And because it’s not a natural position for those muscles to work in or a natural movement for those muscles to do, it can take a lot of work each and every day to even maintain that muscle activation.

So, therefore, in a nutshell, that’s why we need to do maintenance exercises.

“Turnout and foot strength constantly needs refreshing.”

I often say to people that even Principals work on their pliés, so it’s not like if you’ve done the perfect plié once, your body now knows how to do it forever and you never have to maintain it. Similarly, turnout and foot strength constantly needs refreshing.

Abdominals are required to do a lot of stabilising work. It’s quite common when the human bodies do normal movement for knees to bend when we’re moving the leg. Whereas of course in ballet, we often keep one leg stretched. This requires a much greater level of abdominal strength and coordination.

It’s important to have a nice balance of exercises specific to what your body needs, to make sure that you know how to warm up well, you know how to maintain your body well, before you do your ballet class or before a rehearsal, and of course, before a performance.

Explore our Ballet Facility Enhancement Classes

For vocational students and adults, Luke provides science-based online ballet facility-building programmes. Complete your exercises from the convenience of your own home thanks to The Ballet Physio live virtual video classes.