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Gambina

Pelvis Position

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Gambina

Hey BalletTalkers!

 

I have a question....Well... while practicing ballet and attempting to elongate my spine I've found that I generally tuck (In my mind-- straighten my lower spine) so that I eliminate more of the lower spines natural curve. My ballet teacher has has told me to "allow the natural lower back it's natural curvature." This is extremely hard for me, for some reason, I feel like I need to consciously "relax" the back/pelvis muscle while standing in 1st/5th so that I have an relaxed lower spine curve. I have taken note of the difference between "sway back" (which I dont believe applies to me at all) and the tucked pelvis (ie straightening out the back so that there is no natural curve) which is what I generally have always done.

 

MY concern is how to maintain (and know when/how) to use the pelvis during extensions? Should I be purposely (puhing my buttom out - which seems to relax the back and allow the natural curve of the lower spine) and if this is what I should be doing.. the height of extension then becomes very limited... and I need to know HOW to keep the hips aligned.. the lower back curvature AND still maintain height in extensions.....

 

 

erm...help? :P

 

 

 

Thanks!

Edited by Gambina

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Willimus

This is so hard to answer without seeing you, and without you seeing me, and would probably best be answered by your teacher. What I teach my students is that the pelvis should be placed in "centered neutral alignment", neither tucked nor with a sway back. As my teacher, who had a rather large posterior used to say "this is not a sway back, I am not sticking out my popo, this is just my fat". When teaching student with a "curvier" figure, they sometimes feel that they are swaying their back when they look in the mirror, but there is a feeling one gets when the spine is completely elongated and the pelvis is neutral. It can sometimes be helpful to try to think of the front of the pelvis being flat to the mirror, rather than thinking of the back. This seems to help some students.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful.

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Victoria Leigh

Gambina, if you are actually tucking, then you are not only pushing weigh downward into your legs instead of lifting the weight up out of them, and also limiting movement and extensions. Have you read the pinned topics on alignment that are at the top of this forum?

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tamaram26

My personal experience has been that it is easy to get a nice high extension...at the cost of proper alignment! :o I have heard teachers say, "Oh, sure, you can get your leg up to your ear, but it's not correct!" In other words, extension height is not the priority if your body placement is wrong. For me, height in my extensions is gradually improving as my flexibility improves, but I try to continually remind myself to keep my body properly aligned even if it means lowering the leg slightly.

 

In arabesque especially, I find that when bringing the leg back into a standing position, it is easy to forget about bringing the hips back to a neutral position as well. (Picture the rear sticking out even though the leg has been brought back into, for example, fifth position.) My teacher has us think about bringing the hips back to neutral in one smooth movement as the leg comes in, instead of bringing the leg in and then making an awkward pelvic correction. This could also apply to tendu back.

 

I'm still fairly new to ballet, (only a year and a half of training), but I have struggled with hip alignment and have spent many private lessons working on "feeling" the correct pelvic/hip placement, so I feel your pain! In regard to one of your questions, I'm not sure I have learned anything yet in ballet that justifies "pushing your bottom out". Most of the time, we hear corrections to be careful NOT to push the bottom out.

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LaFilleSylphide

You've broken it down so much that I feel like I'm starting to psych myself out with even more things to think about! I had this amazing teacher who was also obsessed with pilates. She used to talk about holding the core muscles in a way where you literally add centimeters to your height because you're holding your abdominal muscles, lifting your ribcage upwards from your pelvis while closing the ribcage with your core, and always being aware of your rotator muscles and using them (which will give you that kind of squeezed muscle feeling that is not exactly tucking, but can be mistakened for tucking). When doing this, you not only do not sink, but your extensions should feel less heavy. The problem also is that this feeling of holding and using the muscles correctly has to become habit, instinctive, and second nature from good practice, otherwise the extensions again go back to what's easiest... which in many cases (mine) is gripping my muscles and sinking heavily while losing turnout. :(

 

I have a problem of my extensions feeling just grounded and heavy. It is true that there will be a pelvic lift if your extensions are past a certain point, but there's a difference between jutting and distorting the pelvis upwards to simply making room as the natural anatomy is inclined to do. I am still having trouble with this, as cheating is my natural instinct. If I could grab everyone here by their ribcages, push the sides in slightly and lift them up while poking your rotator muscles... I would. It's an awesome feeling that makes such a difference on the dance floor. In center, when you feel this, suddenly everything just starts working! I think I just sounded weird like I wanted to accost everyone here.

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Ludmilla

La Fille...........a wonderful phrase!! ......."Squeezed muscle feeling". My gosh I have had that feeling at times, and never knew what to call it (and didn't realize there was something important about it). I remember finding it as a kid studying ballet and thinking way back then, at the time............"Ah, this is power!"

 

Great discussion -- this is so important and not always easy to talk about. Teachers I've studied with explain it well but still part of me does not "get it", and this discussion really helps.

 

Regards, Ludmilla

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LaFilleSylphide

I think that feeling of awareness, using, and feeling your muscles in action is one of the most important things about executing movements in ballet beautifully and consistently. A lot of times, there is that "stroke of luck" feeling, and I feel that if dancers in training begin to become more self aware of the parts of their body that normal people don't have to think about, then it is a giant step towards most dancers technique goals: alignment, turns, extensions, holding turn out throughout dancing, etc.

 

Unfortunately, being able to control these muscles or use them like second nature is a whole different issue. Because I've had that feeling Ludmilla had, "Oh wow! There are muscles there too?" I've become more self aware of when I'm not using them. It's like extensions, when I developpé, my original natural state used to be gripping. One of the admins of the board talked about a cycling of energy up, and out like a ferris wheel, and while I am trying to understand it, my biggest progression is being aware that I'm gripping. At least I am able to notice it now and attempt to remedy it, but in a high adrenaline complex combination, my body reverts instantly! :(

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olgahk

The problem also is that this feeling of holding and using the muscles correctly has to become habit, instinctive, and second nature from good practice, otherwise the extensions again go back to what's easiest... which in many cases (mine) is gripping my muscles and sinking heavily while losing turnout. :(

 

I have been doing pilates 'obsessively' for the past four months - 1-2 hours a day, every day, including both Mat and Reformer, as I am preparing for my STOTT Pilates Mat & Reformer certification exam - and I definitely feel the difference between before and after Pilates. It did become a second nature to pull up and keep myself pulled up at all times, including outside the dance room, and in the absense of any mirrors :grinning: Plus, I feel much, much more stable in the centre.

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Gambina

Great conversation, I love all the informative replies!

 

I have read teh sticky on alignment, but I am still struggling with the concept of feeling it within myself. I also tend to grip and I can catch myself doing it. (front thigh muscles and within the hip area) On a side note in your opinions do you think that learning how to hold a proper placement is better when learning with or without using a mirror? Seeing vs feeling etc?

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LaFilleSylphide

Different for everyone. I feel you need both. Placement can be both visual and feeling. I truly feel that working without a mirror once in a while is just as important as working with. Sometimes, one can't always rely on their lying eyes! My pilates coach used to work with me in a dim room facing away from the mirror, actually. When she'd adjust my positioning manually, I was forced to maintain and attempt to activate muscle memory without relying on a mirror. It helped me to really *feel* what muscles I was trying to fire, but the next day in class, seeing it in the mirror in action just further put pieces of the puzzle together.

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Redbookish

I've been lucky to have been taught class by a couple of teachers who have offered very effective ideas, images, and physical techniques to help feel alignment from the inside.

 

One teacher (one of those foundational teachers whose voice is still often in my head) used to get us to close our eyes while standing in first position at the barre, and would talk us through the sense of "stacking" the skeleton, in much the same way that Clara's Sticky on alignment does. Her emphasis in teaching was always on the skeleton, and then the muscles.

 

I found this interesting as previous teachers had tended just to talk about muscular use. But thinking about the skeleton really helped me to use the muscles to align my bones, rather than just gripping my muscles. I think it was significant that she had some medical training in anatomy as well as a lifelong career in dance.

 

Then later, another teacher used to get us to certain simple barre exercises with our eyes closed. He was big on thinking about proprioception. So we would do a plié exercise with eyes open, then eyes closed. Doing pliés with your eyes closed is a revelation! You really need to internalise and image of your skeleton, and the way that you inhabit 360 degree space around you.

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Willimus

I was also taught to "stack the skeleton". It is an image that works very well for me.

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