Working with Alexandre Proia (Paris Opera School of Ballet, Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet), on optimization/reversal of alignment challenges associated with the knee/ankle/foot complex. 

Nutmeg Nuggets: Staying in peak condition

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The posture of a dancer is visibly evident. Just watch a Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts dancer walk down Main Street in Torrington with her back held straight, her shoulders pulled back and an air of confidence. That posture is what makes those beautiful body lines you will see on the stage at Warner Theatre when the Nutmeg Summer Dance Festival opens in July.

Ballet is such a graceful art that sitting in a theater watching a performance one could be fooled into thinking that the dancers are floating across the stage. But that’s an illusion. Ballet dancers, like ball players, skaters, gymnasts, etc., are athletes who must keep their bodies in peak condition in order to perform to the best of their ability. A good diet, vitamin supplements and stretching at the ballet barre help keep a dancer fit. But being supple and fit and maximizing a body’s potential takes more and that’s where Stephen M. Apatow comes in.

Apatow is the founder and director of the Sports Medicine and Science Institute, which has a base at the Conservatory. As a former dancer and a 1989 Nutmeg graduate, he understands the importance of the body’s need to be in balance, or in other words, perfectly aligned. He works with students, teachers and guest artists at Nutmeg to help them achieve that body balance.

“I assess the dancers to see if they have posture challenges that can be corrected. When movement of a joint is restricted, specific stretches are utilized to give it new range of motion. When a dancer has been training one way for a long time, a joint may need to be retrained to give it better range of motion,” Apatow said.

He teaches the dancers and his other clients the specific exercises to increase flexibly and motion of the joint. “Then I take them to the barre and do technical classical ballet corrections and retrain them in the classical ballet specifics. Sharon and I have worked together on these exercises and positions for over 20 years.”

Apatow first brought his program to Nutmeg when executive director Sharon Dante asked him to work with Cheryl Madeux as she prepared for the 1990 Lausanne international ballet competition. His work resulted in an increased range of motion in her hips, and her spinal and shoulder alignment and cervical spine alignment was corrected. And she could do an amazing split!

“After working with Cheryl she went from opening a 160 degree split to a 180 degree split,” he said.

The one-month intensive program Apatow designed for Madeux resulted in her moving to the next technical level of performance, an accomplishment it was believed she could not have done through the classical ballet program alone. It also paid off when she became the only American finalist at the Prix de Lausanne.

The Sports Medicine and Science Institute and International Dancescience Development Program emphasizes the importance of postural analysis, based on the classical ballet mechanical ideal, according to the website. However, there’s more to it than that.

“Stephen is our biomechanics expert and he works with the students and the staff. He is also available to people in the community,” Dante said.

Apatow works with people who have musculoskeletal issues or ailments, including entrapment neuropathies, scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, friedreich ataxia, multiple sclerosis and more. He is available by calling Nutmeg and making an appointment. Apatow has used his biomechanics expertise with Olympic athletes and has even helped veterinarians with canine and equine cases.

To schedule an appointment with Stephen Apatow, call The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts at 860-482-4413 ext 308. To purchase tickets for the Nutmeg Summer Dance Festival on Friday July 27 at 8 p.m. or Saturday July 28 at noon, call the Warner Theatre box office at (860) 489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org.


Ref: Nutmeg Nuggets: Staying in peak condition: Register Citizen, Torrington, Connecticut, 13 June 2012.

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