Where are they now? How two ballet dancers transformed their performance & recovery with Pilates

Six months ago, we explored the inspiring stories of two talented ballet dancers from The National Ballet of Canada, Genevieve Penn Nabity and Matthieu Pagès, who embraced Pilates as a vital component of their performance enhancement and recovery journey. You can catch up on their stories here. Today, we revisit their journeys to see how they’ve navigated the challenges and triumphs that have come their way in the past several months.

Genevieve: Adapting to new challenges with grace

Genevieve Penn Nabity in Don Quixote. Photo by Karolina Kuras

Earlier this year, Genevieve faced a setback when she fractured her distal talus, a small bone in the ankle, during a ballet training class. This injury forced her to temporarily shift her focus from ballet to strengthening her upper body, particularly her back muscles. Despite this hurdle, Genevieve’s resilience shines through. Her new fitness goals center on enhancing the proprioceptive muscles around her ankle and calf to regain her pre-injury form so that she can continue to approach dance fearlessly.

Genevieve has since returned to performing and the integration of Pilates into her routine has profoundly impacted her ballet training. Mind-body exercises have been instrumental in helping her stay focused and connected with her muscles during performances, even under the stress of stage nerves.

1) Can you describe any recent achievements in your ballet career that you attribute to your enhanced training?

I was recently cast in the lead role of Kitri for the National Ballet’s upcoming production on Don Quixote. This role is full of explosive jumps and the training I did pre-injury helped me show that I have the skills needed to perform the role well. Also, back in December 2023, I was called upon to fill in for a fellow colleague in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker thus my shows doubled. Due to my training, my body was able to support itself through the extra shows.

2) How has your approach to training and preparation for performances changed since integrating Pilates into your routine?

I am much more mindful of my mental state and staying present in the moments before, during and after a show. I also have more control over my body when things don’t go as planned, thanks to the practice I do in Pilates classes.

3) Have you incorporated any new Pilates exercises into your routine?

While in the boot for six weeks after my injury, Reformer work was key as it allowed me to continue training my core and arms without putting any weight on my injury. Some of my favorite exercises are “Teaser Teardrops” and “Frog”. “Tree” was also helpful, as it gave me a chance to mobilize my spine and stretch my legs!

Matthieu: A steady return to the stage

Matthieu Pagès in UTOPIVERSE. Photo by Jason George and William Yong

Matthieu brings us uplifting news: his big toe’s ligaments, which he partially tore after landing poorly following a big jump, have completely healed. Since our last update, he has fully returned to performing ballet, though with heightened awareness and caution to prevent re-injury. This cautious approach has transformed into a strength, enabling him to dance with increased confidence and precision.

Throughout his recovery journey, Matthieu continued to focus on exercises that enhance stability in his injured foot and improved his routine with additional core and upper leg strengthening exercises.

Matthieu’s aspirations in ballet are as vibrant as ever. He is diligently working to strengthen his body and technique, aiming for more opportunities to perform onstage.

1) Can you describe any new or continuing challenges you have faced during your recovery?

Since our last conversation, the main challenge has been regaining stability in my injured foot, particularly in the big toe. The big toe is crucial for balance and dance performance, so it’s vital to keep stretching and strengthening it before moving on to more advanced techniques or choreographies.

2) What advice have you found helpful during your recovery that you could share with others?

Give your body the time it needs to recover and always keep a positive mindset while you’re recuperating. Staying optimistic will impact the speed of your recovery.

3) How do you believe Pilates and mind-body exercise have impacted your recovery process and ballet career?

It has played a significant role by giving me the opportunity to strengthen my body and deeper muscles, and maintain maximum flexibility, all without the repetitive strain of lifting weights.

Pilates: A common thread in their journeys

Both dancers underscore the significant role that Pilates has played, not only in their recovery but also in their overall career trajectories. For Genevieve, Pilates has helped enhance her control and presence during performances. Matthieu credits Pilates with providing a method to strengthen his deeper muscles and maintain peak flexibility, crucial for his ongoing recovery journey.

Looking forward

As Genevieve and Matthieu continue to evolve in their ballet careers, their stories remain a source of inspiration. Their journeys highlight the resilience required to overcome physical setbacks and the powerful role that mind-body practices like Pilates can play in achieving athletic greatness.

Moving forward, we will continue to cheer Genevieve and Matthieu on as they leap towards future successes.


Source: https://www.merrithew.com/blog/post/2024-06-12/where-are-they-now-how-two-ballet-dancers-transformed-their-performance-recovery-with-pilates?utm_source=Mailchimp&utm_campaign=aed3afffd4-NL_202406_Part_2&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_-814c5498ca-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D&ct=t(NL_202406_Part_2)&goal=0_0cd2a6749f-aed3afffd4-182743006&mc_cid=aed3afffd4&mc_eid=0c09e032cf


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