Irmgard Bartenieff was a 20th century dancer, teacher and physical therapist who studied disciplines as diverse as movement, biology and the performing arts. Building on the work of fellow dancer and movement scientist Rudolf Laban, Bartenieff developed a workout based on six exercises that treat the body as a unified whole. The workout can be beneficial for dancers and fitness enthusiasts alike.
The thigh lift is a hip stability exercise that you perform face up on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet flat on the floor with your arms extended at your sides. Exhale as you lift one foot until your shin is parallel with the floor and your knee is bent at a right angle. Inhale as you return your foot to the floor. Perform the exercise with both legs.
Lateral Pelvic Shift
Begin the lateral pelvic shift in the same position that you started the thigh lift. Raise your butt a few inches above the floor, then slide your hips to the left while keeping your feet in place. Lower your butt to the floor with your tailbone aligned with your left foot. Raise your hips and move back to the starting position, then repeat the exercise to the right.
Forward Pelvic Shift
The forward pelvic shift is similar to the lateral shift, but you move in line with your torso and legs, rather than moving in a perpendicular direction. Lift your hips off the floor and move them forward, toward your heels, then return to the starting position.
The body half exercise features several movements and begins face up on the floor as you spread your arms and legs to form an "X" shape. Begin by moving your right elbow and right knee as close together as you can before returning to the starting position. Repeat the movement on the left side. The second movement begins similarly to the first, but you bend from the waist as you bring your right knee and elbow toward each other. At the same time, move your left arm and leg away from each other, and then roll onto your hip as you fold the left side of your body over your right side. Return to the starting position and repeat the second movement to the opposite side.
The knee drop takes your body through a circular motion. Lie face up with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Extend your arms along the floor, pointing away from your sides. Drop both knees to your right as you rotate onto your right hip. Simultaneously turn your head to the left. Perform the exercise on both sides.
Bartenieff's arm circles are different from the standard arm circles you might perform as a dynamic stretch because you do them while lying face up on the floor. Raise one arm and keep it fairly straight but don't lock your elbow. Move your arm in clockwise and counterclockwise circles above your body, then return to the starting position. Perform the exercise with both arms.
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