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Female dancers with muscular legs


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#1 je danse dans ma tete

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 02:49 PM

I HATE my legs. They're not bulky, but still too muscular for a girl (I think) from years of sports that emphasized spurts of energy. While they give me strength in ballet and every day life, I would give anything to have a pair of weak, beautiful, slender legs.

My teacher keeps saying that ballet helps to build muscle in the legs. Most people are happy about that, but it's enough to make me run back out the door crying at the prospect of more muscle. I'm afraid to do jumps, which is sad because they are my strongest point. I'm thinking maybe I should not be doing ballet and should do aerobics or something instead.

For all this talk about muscle and how it's good, I've never seen a single dancer (female) with muscular legs, except for the sinewy, all bone and a bit of muscle types. Does anyone know of any dancers with muscley legs?

#2 chatoyante

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 03:16 PM

How about Lorena Feijoo, for starters? You have to have strong leg muscles to dance. Maybe the difference is simply between long legs and shorter ones. I have extremely long legs but lots of muscle as well. They're certainly not weak or inherently weak because they are slender. They might not appear that muscular because they're so elongated. Just a thought.

#3 ami1436

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 04:04 PM

I'd also say that ballet builds a different *type* of muscle, *if* done correctly under proper training. Don't think big and bulky. Think long, defined, toned. those 'slender' legs are by no means weak: they are steel! :innocent: It's not just 'all bone and a bit of muscle' - It's years of training to create strong, long muscles.

Think like Pilates...

Hmmm, off the top of my head, some dancers.... and some may disagree with me... I agree with Feijoo, Darcey Bussell, Maria K (abbreviated so I don't massacre the last name, but from NYCB), last time I saw Alicia Armatrian (sp? of Stuttgart) I thought she had these nice defined legs, but I've seen pictures of her that vary..... , Leanne Benjamin of the Royal Ballet (so super strong, quick, lyrical... SIGH), Cynthia Gregory.....

Lauranne - the dancers' legs you are envisioning: they don't all have long strong legs because they were born like that. Yes, genetics plays a factor; but so does ballet training.

#4 shulie

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 05:20 PM

Marianne Joly and Nadia Saidakova (both used to be soloists with Berlin Ballet) both have lovely, strong and muscular legs.
Marianne Joly: http://img.photobuck...klein/joly3.jpg
http://img.photobuck...klein/joly1.jpg

Can`t find the picture of Saidakova`s legs but they are like a soccer player`s legs! She still looks gorgeous on stage.

Also take Anastasia Volochkova- the russian dancer who was in the news a few years ago- she is *extremely* muscular- really she has shoulders like a female body builder- and still was a soloist with the Bolshoi for years.
http://www.smh.com.a.../volochkova.jpg

#5 dido

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 05:54 PM

Whenever I get "leg envy" (I too have very stocky, muscular legs) I Google Image Sophiane Sylve.

Dewdrop

Too Lazy to Look it Up. (Sylve on the right.)

That always makes me feel a lot better. Then I watch that outrageous clip of her turns from the Sugar Plum Fairy Coda.

#6 Redbookish

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 06:15 PM

Sorry if I sound pious, but one of my ballet teachers, recovering from a life threatening disease, used to gently remind us that at least we had two legs and could dance when we complained about our bodies (fat, short, skinny, tall, inflexible - whatever). Seeing her gradually get back to dancing with more vigour than those half her age put it all in perspective, frankly. We were all just happy we could dance.

I have what for a professional dancer would be fat and muscly legs, but they are strong, and they have great muscle definition, and in motion, they carry me and do what I need them to do. So I'm really happy with them overall.

I think Ami's right about how you train, and if I remember rightly, you haven't been learning ballet for long? Give your body time (years actually), and perhaps read up about anatomy and muscle types. Well defined & strong muscles enable you to jump & move quickly (I think it's called "fast twitch" muscles???). You can develop the longer muscles through proper slow careful training, careful alignment, and placenent, with - as Ami suggests - maybe a complementary training such as Pilates (or certain types of yoga perhaps?).

My pro ballet dancing sister had what were known as "soft muscles" in the profession, and it meant that she really had to keep up her training all the time, or she lost muscle tone. So she wouldn't have complained about muscle being defined!!

#7 ami1436

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 06:23 PM

Thanks, Redbookish, for your reminder, again, that we all dance because we love it, and thus hopefully are *happy* dancing!

Yes, Dido, to Sylve! Can't believe I forgot her. And SFB's Muriel Maffre.

And, remember, that professional dancers train for HOURS a day for YEARS. The changes take time, but they happen.

Just yesterday, a few of us were talking about how our legs had changed since coming back to dance/starting dance.... and we're mainly a group of recreational dancers taking class just a few times a week.

#8 missvjc420

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 08:13 PM

Yes, by all means be happy you can use your legs and have strong ones- I would kill to be able to dance right now. My muscles don't hold their tone unless I'm active constantly- it's part of my hyperflexibility syndrome. If you think about working correctly especially in slower exercises, you will start to see a change after a while, but it takes some time and maybe not doing or doing less of what made your muscles develop that way would help. Lots of adage work and really reaching through your legs in tendus, degages, and ronde des jambes can be beneficial. I'm going through an I hate my body phase too. I try to tell myself to not take my inner critic so seriously.

#9 AmyKL

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:04 PM

I love Marianne Joly, if not for the sole reason that she has a build almost identical to mine when I'm in top shape. I tend to think of her whenever I get into the whole body dislike thing.

My legs have changed a lot in the last year. They have leaned up a lot since I started taking more classes. I'm generally an athletic person who enjoys sports and all, so I also have the bulky legs. It doesn't help that I'm only 5'1!

But then, bear in mind that your muscular legs probably let you jump very well and feel better about that. :blushing:

#10 2 Left Feet

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:30 AM

With correct training you can change your legs from bulky to long and lean, more of a ballet look. It takes time though so be patient. I have a friend who's a very accomplished dancer. She's short and had fairly muscular legs. She finally found a teacher who trained her to work very "connected" (hard to explain other without being there to show you what I mean). It took about two years of hard work but her legs are completely different. And even in her 40's she's still dancing circles around the teenagers.

Speaking of legs and muscles, I saw an old picture of Melissa Hayden posted in our studio the other day. When I first looked at it, all I saw were muscles. I thought it was one of the guys from the Trocs at first, then I saw it was Hayden. I was kind of shocked. This picture made her look very muscular and manly.

#11 Amy'sMom

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:31 PM

Drew Jacoby (formerly with LINES Ballet ) has some of the most gorgeous legs around, IMO. Strong and beautiful!
Drew Jacoby Website
Click on "Dance", then the "Photos" link, and take a look, especially her "LINES" photos.

Patricia Barker (PNB Principal) is another dancer that comes to mind:
Patricia Barker Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3 (Scroll down).
Photo 4

#12 Guest_pink tights_*

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 01:14 PM

Je Danse--really concentrate on working all the way thru the leg and foot. It will give the illusion of longer, defined dancer legs. Plus it's just good technique ; ) Another trick--match the color of your tights to your shoes...Kind of like dressing to look taller/thinner! Also, if you wear a ballet skirt, where the skirt hits your thigh makes a big difference in how your legs look!! I'm sure your legs are just fine. Like Redbookish and Ami have so wisely said, it takes years to develop a dancer. Give yourself a break and be patient.

#13 AmyKL

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 01:47 PM

Je Danse--really concentrate on working all the way thru the leg and foot. It will give the illusion of longer, defined dancer legs. Plus it's just good technique ; ) Another trick--match the color of your tights to your shoes...Kind of like dressing to look taller/thinner! Also, if you wear a ballet skirt, where the skirt hits your thigh makes a big difference in how your legs look!! I'm sure your legs are just fine. Like Redbookish and Ami have so wisely said, it takes years to develop a dancer. Give yourself a break and be patient.

That's great advice, all of it.

How about not wearing a skirt or warm-up shorts? The more of your legs that are showing, the better anyway. :shrug:

#14 ami1436

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 01:58 PM

pink tights is spot on!

Je danse, I hope you come back to this thread. I've posted this elsewhere I think, but I wanted to post this here too. I had some bad training for a while, the kind that had me push back into my slight hyper-extension, thus tilting my pelvis and swaying my back. Further, exercises were not constructive to the proper and efficient development of muscle for movement, especially ballet. the tops of my thighs got ugly bulky heavy. It looked horrid since I'm just barely over 5 feet, and am short torsoed. Like the wides/biggest part of my body was my thighs, and my rear.

I began taking more classes with another teacher, and we discussed both my concerns and what she could see in my body, and worked on them very specifically in class. The use of the floor, the alignment of the body, and the use of turnout (plus the lengthening ideas so wonderfully illustrated in words by sunyalila elsewhere) - made a huge difference. (Well, now I'm suffering from dissertation spread, but you know what I mean). To have enough classes I still go to a few 'awful' classes, but I internalise and use my own technical knowledge. Within a few months I noticed a difference, and it just got better. And, my legs were not just strong and long-muscled, but also just looked so much better in lines, etc.

This all isn't to say you are working wrong! Looking back at your question, it's not a technical one per se of how to avoid bulking up, but rather a fear that ballet inherently causes big muscles. But think about it - you've just noted that the dancers you've seen have nice long-looking features. They've trained for hours and hours for years and years and dance for hours and hours a day... are they big and bulky? No.... so, no fear, right?

Just do, go out there and dance your heart out!

#15 NutsaboutBallet

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:07 PM

Aren't we really being overly obsessive here?! None of the above mentioned ballerinas have huge muscular thighs or legs!