New York City Ballet with Peter Martins
I’m reviewing this after having done it occasionally in the past and just after doing it again recently.
General workout breakdown: 11 minute warm-up; about 30 minutes of strength, balance, and flexibility work (17 minutes floor work, 12 minutes standing); 6 minute cool down / stretch; and 17 minute dance routine for a total of 63 minutes. This program consists of 16 exercises divided between a moving warm-up, floor exercises (including a stretch, abs series, and “floor barre”—which has you performing some basic barre exercises while lying on your back), standing center (i.e. dance moves like plies, releves, attitudes, etc., performed in short combinations), reverence (cool down and stretch), and a movement combination. There is no cool-down after the movement combination, so you may want to delay the reverence until after you’ve completed it. The movement combination isn’t enough to count as good cardio, but it’s fun to see if you can complete it even half as gracefully or effortlessly as the dancers, particularly since it’s tricky to pick up due to the manner in which moves are introduced and cued.
The workout primarily focuses on lower body with some abs and minimal upper body work. Both sides are worked evenly, with the exception of one exercise during the floor barre, and you are expected to mirror the dancers’ movements.
Level: Just like with NYC Ballet Workout 1, I’d recommend this to an intermediate exerciser because of the importance of form in getting the most out of the exercises. At the same time, I think an advanced exerciser might find them usable only for light days. Familiarity with ballet is extremely helpful; familiarity with Pilates and/or yoga is also helpful. You don’t have to be a dancer, though. (Heaven knows I’m not!) I took ballet lessons for 6-7 years 15-20 years ago, and I’ve been practicing yoga for about three years and Pilates for a little less. I’m not sure I’d be able to pick up the form quite as well without some of that experience, although more athletically gifted people could. By the way, I don’t have the related book, so if you’re determined to use this video but need extra instruction, you might consider picking that up.
Class: 1-4 dancers in their 20s, maybe early 30s, from the NYC Ballet corps, with 2 women and 2 men (one of each gender white, one of each African-American) featured. Deanna is the only dancer featured in both NYC Ballet Workouts, for what it’s worth.
Music / Set / Other Production Notes: You can choose between gorgeous classical music (which I use) or a modern jazz-inspired soundtrack, both with or without narration. Regardless of your choice, the sound is clear. The interior set is minimal (think solid color backdrop), as the focus is on the dancers. This, along with NYC Ballet Workout 2, is one of the few workout videos in letterbox. The choreography and production are truly beautiful.
Equipment: optional mat for floor segment. The workout can be done barefoot, with ballet slippers, or you can use special split-sole dance sneakers from Bloch or Capezio. I used to do the workout barefoot, but I use my Blochs now that I have them. In fact, the dancers use theirs, too, for everything except the movement combination, where they pull out their pink slippers.
Comments: You’ll need some space for this workout, particularly for the movement combination. However, at 5’8” I was able to fit it in a 6’ by 8’ space without getting too cramped or having to be too creative.
DVD Notes: The DVD comes with a booklet of workout tips and a program summary. (Don’t panic when you see pictures of poses that require amazing flexibility; you won’t have to do any of those in the workout.) You have the option to select segments or program your own workout. For example, you can do the warm up, floorwork, and stretch one day and the warm up, standing work, and reverence another day; you could also choose to focus on your lower body or another segment only. There are “Quick Fix Target Exercises” for the abs, shoulders, and back as well as thighs and buttocks. In those segments a dancer demonstrates an exercise to add on; you then do have to do them on your own. There are 2 documentaries: “Tendus, Tutus, Tights, and Takes,” a behind the scenes look at filming the workout, and “Born to Dance,” biographies plus a day in the life of each of the dancers. (You’ll see Aesha’s first commercials, which are cute.) In addition, there are trailers and promos for Danskin and NY Sports Club.
On another for what it’s worth note, Sarah Jessica Parker appears on the back cover but nowhere else.
Conclusion: There’s no way I’ll part with this one, even if I only pull it out once in a blue moon. I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was little, and then reality set in. This video won’t make me sweat buckets, give me that “dancer’s body,” or substitute for real ballet classes with the pink legwarmers and everything, but I don’t care. I enjoy pretending I made it as a dancer after all for those 55+ lovely minutes.
This is ballet workout is more like Jessica Sherwood’s Ballet Boot Camp 1 or 2, particularly in the basic set-up of the exercises: warm-up & stretching, toning floorwork, standing ballet moves, and movement combination. The production of NYC Ballet 2 (and 1) is dramatically better than either BBC, but BBC has one instructor leading average people in a workout class, so both series have their place. In comparison to the New York City Ballet Workout 1, NYC Ballet Workout 2 has more explanation and more routines. It feels more like a regular class that ends with practicing a routine for a recital than simply a practice of basic ballet moves. Whereas in the standing section 1 has a couple of exercises with each basic ballet move (plie with releve, then tendu, then degage, etc.), 2 combines them into little routines (e.g. plie, releve, tendu, and degage are all part of one little combination). 2 starts more exercises from the 3rd position; 1 primarily uses 1st position as the home base. 2 has a few more complex moves, such as pas de Basque and changemont, and indeed 2 is intended to be the next progression from 1, although 2 has more basic instruction included both in the workout and in the extras! Between the two, the abs sections contain, with the exception of the basic crunch, different exercises; the floor barre segments are similar; and the lying leg series are almost exactly the same. I prefer the warm up in 2 because it contains many of the moves which are used later in the routine, yet I think I prefer the floor barre in 1 because to me it feels less rushed. Today while doing this again I was reminded about how 2 seems a little shorter than 1, yet it has more exercises (or at least fewer and shorter pauses) and is actually a few minutes longer. I personally have both and use them equally, because sometimes I feel like going back to the basics, yet sometimes I want a little more choreography.
Peter Martins, the NYC Ballet Master in Chief, and his British accent instruct via voice-over. He announces the start of each new exercise, sometimes including the number of repetitions and / or some basic form information, reminds you to watch your form (particularly abs) during the exercises, and offers some encouragement at the end of several segments. His tone is more helpful and less that of the noblesse oblige than NYC Ballet Workout 1. You will need to watch the dancers closely and even watch the video glossary at the end; the tips given are sufficient but just barely. (The inclusion of both the glossary and more tips is another area improved from NYC Ballet Workout 1).
July 26, 2005