Ballet is an art form. It can tell a story or express a thought or an emotion only by the movements of the body. But it’s also a type of sport that requires precision and preparation. This is the reason why ballet isn’t that easy to learn and perform.
If you’re going to the ballet classes, you already know that it requires dedicated and frequent training, which is now usually performed at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though becoming a great ballet dancer is not easy, it is possible. In order to facilitate the whole process of ballet training, especially for beginners, there are many ballet supplies and pieces of equipment to help. In this text, we will pay more attention to one of them, and that is the spin board.
What Is A Spin Board?
A spin board, or also known as a turn board, is a piece of training equipment usually used in the field of ballet, certain dance genres, ice skating, and other turning sports. It is a slim, rectangular board that you place under your foot in order to be used as a training tool for turning and reducing friction between the foot and the floor, allowing you to spin fast.
That being said, if you’re a ballet dancer that needs to master the art of turning, check out the range of spin boards to find the perfect solution. This device helps improve ballet dancers’ confidence in turning and correct their spotting, balance and posture. Those that are missing the basic rhythm for a solid pirouette, can try to gain a better sense with the help of a turning board.
These boards are made of a friction-reducing, high-quality plastic and come with a rubber foot pad for more comfort. They are curved so as to reduce the area of the surface that comes into contact with the ground, allowing for unrestricted spinning.
However, there are ballet teachers that are opposed to using these kinds of boards. They argue that the spin boards encourage spinning rather than “turning”. Also, the feedback from students is different too. Nevertheless, most of them say that the turn board has helped them improve their spotting and it lets them familiarize their bodies with the sensation of multiple turns. All things considered, whether you experience the benefits of this board or not all depends on the way you use it.
Effective Ways to Use a Spin Board
Basic Exercise(Activate the Piriformis)
This is an exercise that will help you find your piriformis muscle or your “seat”. This is a small muscle located under the pelvis and this is the main supporting muscle for maintaining turnouts. Steps how to do the exercise:
- Begin standing on two turn boards placed in a parallel position, with the feet apart;
- Do a demi plie with the tailbone down, and activate the piriformis muscle. In this position, you are expected to feel like you’re trying to turn your hip knobs but don’t really allow yourself to turn;
- Stretch your knees straight, at the same time maintaining the activation in the piriformis and the length of the tailbone.
Movement Exercise(Rotate the Hip)
This exercise will help you feel where rotation comes from, how to properly turn outwards, and how to use the piriformis to maintain and your rotation while dancing. Steps to do the exercise:
- Begin standing on two turn boards placed in a parallel position;
- Slowly rotate the legs to 90 degrees;
- Hold and maintain the rotation without letting it slip. When you come to a position when you can do this, increase the rotation in your hip until you feel that you have reached your full range of motion. One more thing to check is whether the tailbone is lengthened;
- Demi plie in your full rotation, stretch the legs and maintain the rotation;
- Bring your legs back to a parallel position in a controlled manner.
Deep Lateral Rotator Exercise (Before Learning How to Turn)
- Begin in a parallel position just on one turn board, with the other foot in retire;
- Turn out the working leg, keeping the standing leg stable and not letting it rotate, then rotating back to parallel;
- Now turn out the standing leg, but keeping the working leg stable, and then return to parallel;
- Turn out both legs, and again return to parallel;
- When you manage to do this with strength and control, repeat this exercise in reverse.
This exercise is good for beginner dancers who are ready to turn, but who struggle with a correct and effective spot. Here is some help:
- The dancer should begin in retire, in a rotated and turned out position;
- The partner should check if the dancer is flat and in good alignment;
- The dancer should look straight forward at themselves in the mirror. The assistant or the teacher are supposed to hold the dancer’s hands or arms and begin to move the dancer as if he was doing a pirouette. The dancer shouldn’t move his look from the mirror.
- When the dancer reaches the extent of his neck range of motion, his assistant should begin turning him back around the other direction.