From SRQ to DC: A Ballerina’s Journey Via Pilates

In the spring of 2016, Sarah Shaw guest blogged for Dynamic Fitness, discussing her dreams of becoming a ballerina and how Pilates is helping her achieve those dreams, through improving strengthening and balance, as well as preventing injury. Almost two years later, and after four years of Pilates training, she found out that she was accepted early into the prestigious Washington School of Ballet for their summer program — before auditions have even been completed. We sat down with Sarah to follow up on her original post and to discuss what she feels has helped the most with her development.

Why was the Washington Ballet the first choice for your summer intensive?
Well, they have amazing teachers such as Xiomara Reyes, who’s training is top notch, and especially now with the new direction of Julie Kent as their Artistic Director.

(Some of our readers might remember Kent from her on-screen performances in the movies  Center Stage  by Nicholas Hytner and  Dancers  by Herbert Ross.)

Do you feel that your Pilates training has accelerated your personal strengths as a dancer?
It certainly has, and it has helped with upper body strength and petit allegro (quick, small jumps which are used in training to develop musicality, coordination and complicated lower leg and footwork).

What did you gain from your previous experience at the San Francisco Ballet School?
It was a fun experience, and it was amazing to be in the city. I met many people (teachers and other dancers) who could be of benefit if I ever want to try dancing on that coast again.

Was the fact that Kathy was a ballerina an added value to your Pilates training?
Working with Kathy was helpful because she understands the needs of a ballet dancer and could work the areas needed to improve overall strength and fluidity. Her past ballet experience and her Pilates knowledge allowed for crossover work that could only improve the areas I knew needed attention.

What advice would you give to other serious ballet dancers who are seeking to strengthen themselves with something outside classical training?
Try Pilates! It is a great option because it really does help accelerate improvement by building up strength and refining muscle.

We wish Sarah the best and hope her experience this summer is not only amazing, but leads to more opportunities that ultimately allow her to reach her goals. On a side note, Sarah, like many of her peers, is a wiz at social media – especially Instagram. Due to her connecting with vendors by hashtagging them, she was able to get her pointe shoes financed. #balletintheageoftechnology

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