By Christopher Cussat
The Bodiography Fitness and Strength Training System (BFSTS) is a new and challenging full-body workout that fuses the techniques and benefits of ballet conditioning with skeletal alignment, natural body weight, and the use of props (mats, weights, balls, and bands). Created by Bodiography Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director, Maria Caruso, the BFSTS is derived directly out of the fitness and strength training needs of professional ballet dancers. By combining the alignment principles of ballet, traditional training techniques, and specifically constructed exercise sequences, this workout is truly the “ballet workout for everyBODY.”
Caruso acknowledges that she selfishly started the BFSTS a decade ago to keep herself conditioned for performance. “When I transitioned out of dancing full-time and into directing, I still performed cameo roles at each performance,” she explains. “With a challenging schedule, I needed to design a fitness format for myself that would offer me the benefits of keeping my dancer physique without having to spend the countless hours in the studio.” So Caruso introduced the system into her Pilates classes and found that participants were seeing similar results—long lean legs, a strong core, and muscular definition that normally took 10-12 hours of ballet class to maintain. “The program took off some time ago, but it took that passion and commitment of one of my artists, Kirstie Corso, to bring the training manual and program to life,” she adds.
The BFSTS believes that overall strength stems from a strong center, and targets the core through intense and concentrated abdominal work. Working from the core and moving outwards, the Bodiography sequential format is designed to target all muscle groups from the abdominals, back, legs, arms, and glutes. In order to do this in an hour, exercises often work up to three muscle groups at one time. Muscle groups such as abdominals, inner thighs, and triceps are combined together in one exercise to allow for a more efficient and productive workout. The exercises are not only designed for the specific needs of dancers, but are simple and effective for any individual looking to obtain strong and lean muscles.
Such emphasis on overall health and fitness is nothing new to the operating philosophy of Bodiography, which has been focused on health and wellness since its inception. “I can’t recall a day when I didn’t work with an artist who was equally passionate about fitness, education, AND performance,” notes Caruso. “Building a strong company brand has always meant that when you talk the talk, you must walk the walk.” She explains that fitness and performance always work equally, and the BFSTS has been a critical component of Bodiography’s success.
As a true proponent of the system, Caruso has applied this training system into the conditioning of her professional ballet company, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet. In fact, each company member participates in 3-4 BFSTS classes per week in addition to their ballet regimen. “But, that is part of their job,” says Caruso. “BFSTS is a supplement to the critical training that keeps them on the stage—but it also does provide the average person with the benefits of that physique in as little as 60 minutes a week (with cardio training additional).” After years of personal training and conditioning, her dancers have also become the first certified “Bodiography Fitness and Strength” instructors!
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet also recently announced its Squirrel Hill Studio Expansion. Moving into Bodiography’s 12th anniversary, Caruso is delighted to share the news of their facility expansion at the Bodiography Center for Movement. Opening on September 4, 2013, Caruso unveiled a complete building re-facing which gave it a fresh look, a new 2000-square-foot storefront studio space, a second-floor tap studio, and the renovation of the third-floor studios. Plus, over the course of the year, Bodiography will look to take over additional space for offices and conference areas in their Squirrel Hill home. The new building is artfully decorated with photography of the company members by Eric Rosé.
According to Caruso, the Bodiography Center for Movement expansion began as an opportunity for them to develop and house programs beyond their conservatory. “The need for space to expand our conservatory was just as great as our desire to offer fitness and recreational programs, as well as electives for our conservatory students.” In addition to building Bodiography’s independent program, it has been a great desire of Caruso’s to continue supporting young artists and companies with opportunities to have rehearsal and performance space at an affordable cost. “Thus, this expansion is just as important to Bodiography as it is to the community,” she concludes.
Building on a strong foundation of social activism and artistic philanthropic endeavors, Caruso is thrilled to announce the company’s 2013-2014 season while also offering a host of new fitness, recreational, conservatory, and community classes this coming year. Trainings are open to all fitness enthusiasts, with or without ballet backgrounds.
For tickets or information about upcoming performances, visit: www.bodiographycbc.com or call: 412.456.6666. For more information on the Bodiography Fitness and Strength Training System, instructor trainings, promotional classes, or licensing, please contact BFSTS Program Director, Kirstie Corso, at: [email protected]