Dancer Health
Marika Molnar directs the physical therapy department at New York City Ballet. Here, she works with principal Ana Sophia Scheller. Photo by Rachel Papo

In her work as director of physical therapy for New York City Ballet, Marika Molnar relies on tools like bands, balls and Pilates equipment to rehabilitate and strengthen dancers. She says there's a place for such tools in daily dance classes, as well. Resistance and stability tools can help students develop strength and even break bad habits. "Say someone is compensating because of a weakness or restriction—that's what they're always going to do," she says, even after a teacher corrects them repeatedly. "If you give them something that makes things a little unfamiliar, their brain has to participate more. It becomes not only a physical exercise but a cognitive one." The dancer learns in a new way, and improves.

Molnar has collaborated with Pilates expert Joan Breibart and PTs at Westside Dance Physical Therapy to create a series of tools and exercises with dancers' training and recovery needs in mind. Here, she shares three of her favorites.

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Dancer Health
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I have a student whose feet turn in naturally, even though her knees are straight and facing forward. I would like to know how best to help her handle this issue.

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Kristen Rizzuto, Photo by Kyle Froman

If you had to limit your advice to one idea that could have a profound impact on the training of young dancers, what would it be?" Physical therapist Rocky Bornstein offers these simple balance exercises to offer your students.

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