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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Nzoia

Adult Students, Turnout and More

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Redbookish

Wonderful post, Miss Persistent. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I just have information about my own body picked up from dancing on & off for 40 years (gah, when I put it like that, I should be far better at it than I am). Your knowledge is at another level.

3 hours ago, Miss Persistent said:

Tight soft tissue or undesirable bone structure will physically limit the range the leg can rotate in the socket meaning the knees may be sky high in your froggy - but if the strength and control is there in the muscles around the hip to use and hold what leg rotation IS available, that dancer may end up looking better.

Yes, I think this is my point. I know that as a consequence of aging, and my work (which generally sees me for 10-12 hours a day sitting at my desk writing) my frog position & straddle splits are no longer what they were (almost flat). I have to consciously & sometimes rather painfully, stretch my hip flexors everyday to loosen them up.

But in class, because I have strength & muscle memory, and know how to work my turn out, my functional turn out is far better than some others in my regular class, who are visibly looser in frog & straddle positions. And there are variations in everyone's facility: I can do front & back splits, but have never been completely to the floor on straddle splits or seated positions in second. My physiotherapist called me hypermobile the other day, but I know that is a combination of natural skeletal & muscle alignment, and a lot of muscle memory & working on it over the years.

My point about splits is that they're not ballet! They give an indication of "natural" flexibility, but they're not necessary to dance well as an adult. And the reason I care is that the idea that splits are important gets in the way of lots of people taking up ballet as adults. It's a real pity when people say to me "Oh I couldn't do ballet, I'm not flexible enough. I couldn't do the splits."

You do ballet to become flexible! So I'd urge us as adult students to try to get rid of the myth about extreme flexibility being a pre-requisite for ballet. I want more people to learn & enjoy the beautiful art we all know.

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thedancingpenguin
10 hours ago, Redbookish said:

 

My point about splits is that they're not ballet! They give an indication of "natural" flexibility, but they're not necessary to dance well as an adult. And the reason I care is that the idea that splits are important gets in the way of lots of people taking up ballet as adults. It's a real pity when people say to me "Oh I couldn't do ballet, I'm not flexible enough. I couldn't do the splits."

You do ballet to become flexible! So I'd urge us as adult students to try to get rid of the myth about extreme flexibility being a pre-requisite for ballet. I want more people to learn & enjoy the beautiful art we all know.

I hate when people think like that. :( I'e had people ask if I am flexible enough for ballet (or acro). Flexibility can be improved with hard work and dedication. I think everyone can achieve some degree of flexibility. Adults can take technique classes and work on flexibility (if they want to) simultaneously. It's not either or. I'd love for more people yo enjoy ballet. 

I have my front splits, but oh boy, my middle splits have been a doozy. The only things that have helped are partner stretching (don't usually have access to) and my machine. 

Edited by thedancingpenguin

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Scuballerina

Sorry, but can you elaborate on the machine?

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thedancingpenguin

I have the tmas pro stretcher, which goes last 180°. It functions on the same principle as the rack. It looks like this.

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Redbookish

Sorry, but these machines are potentially dangerous and pretty pointless for ballet. 

The point of ballet is functional flexibility. 

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AncientDancer

I’m not sure that that machine would be pointless or dangerous, actually. Think about it: doing the straddle split using one’s weight puts a LOT of pressure on the knees. Doing it against the wall has the same effect - pressure on the knees. 

This machine keeps the whole leg in place while stretching the middle area. The requirement on the core of the body is the same whether using or not using the machine - sitting up or holding the core properly - but the whole leg is supported. 

I have seen this machine at the studios of a few professional companies. As with any machine, it can be used improperly but to be honest, that would be hard to do with this one. 

I do agree with functional flexibility, but one has to start somewhere...

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