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Ballet Talk for Dancers

UGH! Frustrated with developpes

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I have read many articles and watched many videos about getting higher developpes: releasing the quads, strong and stable core, lifting the thigh from underneath, keeping the weight over the ball of the supporting foot, rotating outwards....However, I just can't get my leg higher than maybe 60 degrees devant and 75 degrees a la seconde...arabesque is obviously a little different in approach. 

Most sources say to stretch and do strengthening exercises a few times a week but the more I work on my developpes in class, the tighter and more fatigued my hip flexors become and the lower my leg gets. One of my former teachers was super developpe crazed and was always pushing, pushing, pushing us to get higher developpes to the point that I actually have lost a lot ease/flexibility in my hips because they have gotten extremely tight and are easily overworked. My legs would hitch and (painlessly but still uncomfortably) click so much in her class that I would have to intentionally do 45-degree developpes because sometimes my hips would just completely give out. I KNOW I am flexible enough to do a high developpe as my leg can easily stretch way above 90 degrees if I hold it there with my hand but as soon as I let go....the leg PLUMMETS to the ground LOL! Obviously, it's impossible to get a true diagnosis without watching me in person but any guesses as to what could be happening? 

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I have the same problem, I have the flexibility to do a 120º developpe devant, derriere and a la seconde if somebody holds my leg but lack the strenght to hold it by myself. I am very skinny so I think I don't have the right muscles very developped even though I train hard...

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I don't know, developpés are the bane of my existence too... those and fouetté turns on pointe. I'm still trying and trying, but so far, it seems like I should be content with 90º. 

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You definitely need a strong core (because we all love core work, right? :dry::D). I feel like I read something somewhere that the muscles we use to keep our legs above 90 degrees are actually a little different than the ones we use when our leg is lower (I feel like the psoas is a lot more involved?), but I'm not sure how true that is? Hopefully a more experienced teacher pops in soon :wink:

But from what I've read my understanding is that you don't want to think of lifting your leg with your leg muscles because that actually causes tension in everything, which limits movement. Easier said than done!


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Miss Persistent
On 2/10/2018 at 7:09 AM, morninglorie said:

 I feel like I read something somewhere that the muscles we use to keep our legs above 90 degrees are actually a little different than the ones we use when our leg is lower (I feel like the psoas is a lot more involved?)


You are bang on MorningGlorie!  Good job :)

It pays to remember that muscles and bones work like levers, and muscles can only pull - they never push.  So to lift your leg there needs to be a muscle to pull it up high.  Your psoas is really two deep postural muscle (major and minor) that attach to both the top of the femur, and to your spine deep within your body.  (picture https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flexors_of_the_human_body )

Your psoas major is the only muscle that crosses over your hip joint, which makes it the only muscle capable of pulling your leg above your hip to the front and to the side with the help of your rotators and inner thighs.  All of your other thigh muscles and hip muscles attach either only to the pelvis, or only to the femur - don't cross over the hip joint meaning they have no action over the joint.  That's why you can get your leg to 90, but then they stop working because they have reached the limit of how high they can pull your leg.

So, first you need to find and activate your psoas outside of class as it can be a bit tricky, and then bring it in to your class work.  Here's a short little video from the Royal Ballet about core work you could try to start finding those deeper core muscles https://simplyballet.com.au/2017/10/23/technique-tip-posture/

Ps - Clicky hips can sometimes be the result of a tight psoas.  Weak muscles often get tight too, so work on your strength and stretching and if it continues and causes pain get it checked out!


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