Five exercises toward a ballerina body


If there were ever one body type all girls wish they could have, that would be a ballerina’s form and figure – long and slender, flexible, and graceful yet strong. But achieving such a flawless figure does not come easy.

Dawna Mangahas

Dawna Mangahas

After all, ballerinas train for years, six to seven days a week, and at least six hours per day to get bodies that work so well both aesthetically and functionally.

Here’s the good news. There are simple exercises you can to do at home to help you get a similar looking body. Three of Ballet Manila’s ballerinas for the just concluded The Swan, The Fairy, & The Princess share with The Manila Times simple movements that can help you sculpt and tone your way to a lean yet graceful physique.

Five kinds of stretches. “Stretches are very important because they elongate everything and helps you feel lighter,” shares Abigail Oliveiro who danced as the Swan in the production that paid tribute to one of the world’s most distinguished composers of all time, Peter Tchaikovsky.

Abigail Oliveiro

Abigail Oliveiro

“Doing hamstring stretches, arm stretches, back stretches, waist stretches and frog stretches every day will help you get a more fluid looking figure and will help you move with so much ease.”

Core exercises. “Planks, including side planks, sit-ups, leg raises and crunches are all very important for anyone who wants to get a ballerina figure. Core exercises not only help you get a flat tummy, they also help stabilize your core, which is very important when moving. When you do these exercises regularly, you will have a much easier time going from one movement to another,” adds Oliveiro.

Leg toning exercises. “Plies and squats help make legs more slender and stronger,” says Katherine Barkman, a principal dancer of the company. “Two to three sets per day make all the difference and does not take a lot of time at all. You can do it in the morning after your stretches. Doing so can also give you more energy to start your day.” Barkman played Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.

Arm and back strengthening exercises. “One good exercise people can do to get ballerina arms is to just hold them out in semi-circle, right in front of their chest as if they were holding a large basket and count to 20. Afterwards, they can move their arms to both sides and just start lifting and dropping them in a controlled manner for 20 counts or more. What’s important is that they never rest their arms or allow them to completely drop during this time,” adds Barkman.

Katherine Barkman shows that plies and squats help make legs more slender and stronger

Katherine Barkman shows that plies and squats help make legs more slender and stronger

“This works not just the muscles on the arms but at the back as well, which what gives ballerinas such long and slender arms.”

Spinal rocking. “I do spinal rocking four times every day to help keep my spine flexible and improve my posture,” says Dawna Mangahas who danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker.

“You just need to lay down, bend your knees and your head together, then start rocking for twenty seconds. I find that it relaxes my muscles as well and makes it easier for me to move around and keep a straight posture.”

For those who were not able to catch Abigail Oliveiro, Katherine, and Dawna Mangahas in The Swan, The Fairy And The Princess, all three are featured live in Ballet Manila’s upcoming production of Cinderella, which goes on stage at Aliw Theater on November 25, 26 and December 3 at 8 p.m.; and November 27 and December 4 at 3 p.m.

For details on show schedules log on to


Please follow our commenting guidelines.

Comments are closed.