In “New Life: Returning to dance safely after having a child requires patience and care” (March/April 2017 issue), Dr. Blessyl Buan speaks with Je-An Salas Leavens, former soloist with The National Ballet of Canada who is now a Fletcher Pilates instructor and owner of Articulate Bodies studio in Toronto, about best practices for returning to dance postpartum. Salas Leavens recommends the following exercises:
1. Demi plié in second position
Inhale to plié, and exhale to extend the legs. This exercise coordinates the diaphragm and pelvic floor with breath and a simple dance movement.
2. Cat or quadruped exercise
From a tabletop position on the floor, on hands and knees, inhale to prepare, and exhale to draw the navel to the spine while gently dropping the head and flexing the neck and lumbar spine inwards to create a curve in the spine. Inhale to return the spine to a neutral position. This exercise helps to create awareness of the positioning of the pelvis, which tends to be tilted forward after pregnancy.
3. Spinal mobility
Articulating the spine in all three planes of movement helps to regain mobility. Start from a seated position on a chair or the floor.
• Inhale to side bend with one arm overhead, keeping both sit bones in contact with the surface. Exhale to return to the starting position. Reverse.
• Inhale to prepare, then exhale and slide your hands down your shins to your feet while articulating your spine forward, from the head, with your back curved. Inhale to hold; exhale and articulate the spine back to an upright position.
• Inhale to prepare, and exhale to rotate the spine while lengthening the spine to the top of your head. Inhale to return.
Je-An Salas Leavens / Photo by Jillian Vanstone
From plaid-clad, bearded lumberjacks, to backdrops evoking Group of Seven paintings, to a monstrous whale inhabiting the waters of a Nova Scotian fishing village, The National Ballet of Canada’s Pinocchio pays homage to the country hosting British choreographer Will Tuckett.