Dancers are so interesting to watch because they're graceful, athletic and have incredible balance. Whether you're a competitive dancer or if you're just getting started, balance exercises are essential for continued improvement. You won't need equipment -- other than your own body -- for most balancing exercises. Indeed, some of the most effective dance exercises are deceptively simple. Work on your balance by practicing these exercises daily.
Balance on Two Feet
It seems simple, but learning intermediate and advanced dance poses requires good balance on two feet first. The calf raise is an effective exercise to practice balancing on both feet. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and the balls of your feet on the front edge of a block or other raised object. Lean your weight forward and raise onto the balls of your feet. Raise your heels by extending your ankles as high as possible, then come back down. Calf raises get you used to balancing on two feet and increase the strength and stability of your lower legs.
Balance on One Foot
Balancing on two feet is essential, but many dance maneuvers require you to shift your body weight from one foot to the other. Single-leg calf raises can get you used to balancing on one leg, but weight shifts are also effective beginner exercises to improve your balance on one foot. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your weight evenly distributed on both sides. Shift your weight to one foot and lean to that side, lifting your opposite leg off the ground. Hold the position for as long as you can with proper form -- up to 30 seconds -- then shift to the other side.
Core Strength and Stability
Shifting your weight and working on leg strength will improve your balance, but your stability is also reliant on functional core strength. Add some core exercises to your workout routine and they will translate nicely into your dance practices. Exercises such as crunches, planks and body-weight squats work the major muscles of your abdominals, obliques and back to stabilize you in off-balance positions.
Increase the difficulty of your balancing exercises by lifting one leg in the air and holding it in various positions. You can balance one leg on a chair, lift the opposite arm to test your core stability during a leg lift and even try to get someone to push you over while balancing on one leg. Challenging your balance with these exercises will make you comfortable with making tiny adjustments in your foot position, core engagement and weight distribution during dynamic activities such as dance.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.