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Fully flexing your muscles


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#1 illmatic

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 09:02 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forums and just started adult ballet classes a week ago. I am a 20 year old with a long athletic background that decided to learn ballet. I have a few questions that I hope some people here could answer:

When flexing your muscles, should you be flexing them fully? Simple example, when in first position, should you be flexing your legs and glutes to extend completely and straight? I asked this to my instructor and he said that I should not be flexing... yet I can't really see how this or any of the positions could be correctly done without doing so.

I've been working on "the moves" (i don't know the names... :|) at home and found that my turnout goes to crap unless I really flex my quads, hammies, glutes, and the other turnout muscles when I feel necessary, which is most of the time. Additionally, when I do flex, my movements are much cleaner and my turnout holds better. Thus, there's contradiction between what I am seeing/feeling and what I am being told. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding my instructor? He told me to "feel my foot push into the ground"...

Also, where should I feel my weight on my feet? Should I feel more of my weight on my toes? Or in the middle? I feel more comfortable balancing on the ballz(###### is censored?!) of my feet since it allows me to move more quickly. However, I'm not sure if this is right.

Thanks in advance.


Dave

Edited by illmatic, 31 March 2012 - 10:27 PM.


#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:50 AM

Hi Dave; I think we may be at cross purposes in our definition of "flex". As dancers, we mean one thing, but I suspect that you mean something else. You're just at the beginning of your ballet training. As you go on, and take more classes, you'll find out how muscles are used in dance, which is different from practically everything else. And yes, you do feel the floor while you dance. It almost is like having roots that reach into the floor, but you are in a very elastic environment, which allows you to jump into the air freely, without getting stuck on the ground. Also yes, b a l l s is censored. We got hacked one time, and we put bad word filters on all of the words and concepts he included in his unwanted post. Maybe we should revisit that list. It's easier to write about the ball of the foot than the metatarsal joint.
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#3 illmatic

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:39 AM

Thanks for the reply. I was thinking, perhaps the reason why I feel I must flex so hard is due to my lack of muscle development for good ballet technique. Whereas someone who is experienced and has been doing it for years feels like flexing to hard is ineffecient since their "ballet muscles" are more in tune.

Could this be a possibility?

By the way, I am trying to focus on using the correct muscles, from what I have read online. ie. the hip abducturs, inner thighs to lengthen yourself, ect.
I have been feeling a huge strain, in a good way, on my hip abductors. Pretty sore to say the least and it feels good :). Really focusing on utilizing these muscles has been painful, but helpful as well!

Also, I would like to say that the amount of focus required in ballet is a lot more than any other sport I've done. Particularly since I am new to all the concepts. Hopefully they will come more naturally later. There is so much precision and exactness in the way good dancers dance. It's mindblowing! Kudos to all ballet dancers, it's not easy.


Dave

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:31 PM

All good observations, Dave! :clapping: As you continue your studies, you will find the way that ballet technique relates to YOUR body. We, as teachers, can provide you with stepping-stones, as it were, but you have to find your own way in class! This is one of the most difficult times in a student's life - the go from a standing start. You'll soon see how things will fit on you, and I'm sure you'll do well. People with an athletic knack are often good in ballet, too.
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#5 illmatic

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:01 PM

Thanks Mel! I'm excited to see how far I can go, hopefully body still intact at the end. Though, I am worried that ballet is becoming a new obsession. :o

#6 illmatic

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

Question:
Would it be out of line to request my instructor to use slower music? It's easier to focus on engaging the proper muscles when we are moving slowly. However, he often uses fairly fast music (for us beginners) leaving a lot of us struggling to keep up. It's difficult, to conscientiously hold my turnout, point my toes, and fully extend my legs with fast music. Or should I just bite the bullet and do my best to keep up.

Thanks,


Dave

Edited by illmatic, 26 April 2012 - 07:03 PM.


#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

Do your best for the first few tries, then, if it is still fast for you, ask the instructor to do a slower tempo for you. You are within the bounds of etiquette to do that; of course it is equally correct for him/her to say, "No," as well.
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