So I decided to test (on myself) the idea that, if a dancer uses their core habitually when they dance by consistently keeping the core engaged, these muscles actually get stronger over time, even in the case of a dance with fairly low strength requirements like salsa (compared to other more physically strenuous dances) and even when the dancer only dances a relatively small amount of time (4-5 hours a week, not including classes). I decided that a very good test would be the abdominal plank, in which the muscle that does most of the work in order to stabilize your body (though of course other muscles are engaged) is the deepest core abdominal muscle, the Transversus abdominis. Here is a picture of what the plank position is and the muscles it works. I am the perfect test subject for this because I have probably done the plank for a total of less than 5 times in my entire life, the last one more than 2 years ago (I still remember the pain when someone is telling you to keep holding it while your muscles are all shaking...). Note that regular ab exercises (such as crunches) work the rectus abdominis--the six-pack muscles--not the core abs. I should note that I periodically (1/2 times a week) do kettlebell swings, usually one short set of 10-15 swings, and these do engage the core abdominal muscles to a certain degree, but the glutes and hip muscles are the main muscles engaged (if you're interested you can see all the muscles the kettlebell swing works here: http://crossfitsobosouthborough.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/MuscleAnatomyKettleBellSwing.png). Here is how you do the plank: Get into pushup position on the floor. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can without letting your hips drop or tilt upwards (because then your leg muscles are taking the load off your core muscles). So here are the statistics: First-timers (which I pretty clearly qualify as ) generally can't hold the plank more than 30 seconds Below 30 seconds - needs work 30-60 seconds - average 60+ seconds - good So without further ado, my test result was: I was able to hold the plank for 60 seconds -- Q.E.D. If anyone else (who is not already a regular planker) wants to take this short test, I'd be curious to know other people's results. This can also probably serve as a basic indicator of whether you are engaging your core sufficiently when you are dancing. Now that I've done this, I am planning to continue planking every other day until my maximum time goes up to 90 seconds to see if this will make a difference in my dancing. I would expect improved core strength to improve body control/balance, but perhaps beyond a certain threshold of strength there are no further noticeable dance benefits.