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Ballet Talk for Dancers

extensions and arabesqes


Marjolein

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I can't seem to get my leg any higher than 90 degrees in developpees or when I'm slowly lifting it to the front or the side. It is definitly not because I'm not flexible enough because my grand battements are almost 180 degrees high. How can I gain strength to get my leg higher without lifting my hip? My arabesque is also not very high, while my attitudes are. How can I become more flexible and stronger to do arabesques?

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Sounds like you could be the Poster Girl for the difference between strength and flexibility, Marjolein.:)

 

OK, you've correctly identified the problem, and the advice is pretty basic. Keep the abdominals and the back muscles and also the glutes (which, you must admit, are in back!) engaged, and support the developpé using those muscles. Try to feel as though the extension is being supported from underneath by the hamstrings, even though they really don't do that - it's just a feeling.

 

Everybody has trouble with developpés to the front, and many of the troubles are caused by gripping the quad muscles, which really shouldn't be lifting the leg, only engaging right at the end, to straighten the leg. You need really good rotation to get a good quatrième devant, and the same goes for à la seconde. except there, you can edge the seconde slightly, ever so slightly forward, to compensate for less-than-90º rotation of the leg.

 

Hard to figure out the attitude-to-arabesque difficulty, though, without seeing you. Are you sure that the attitude is right behind you, and not a bit out to the side, which a teacher of mine used to call "pas de chien" (Oh figure it out - she had a little plaster fire hydrant she used to put down next to people who were accustomed to do that). Otherwise, it could just be a matter of engineering. Supporting a length of leg as in an arabesque takes more strength; ask any engineer. The above advices will help you on that. Just keep working. It's a long slow road.

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Guest Giselle83

hello!

I was wondering why I have more problems with arabesques than attitudes (derriere) then? I find attitudes very difficult, could it be that I never learned to use right muscles for it? I have a poor turnout but still it's easier to handle in arabesques...

 

And, does somebody have an opinion about spine flexibility affecting arabesque extension? I have a flexible back (for 'normal' people it's flexible, in ballet world its 'enough' flexible) and quite high arabesques, do they have a particular connection to each other?

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Before I try this one, let's straighten out at least one point. Is it easier for you to do arabesques or attitudes? Your opening paragraph is contradictory, and I have to be sure which question I'm answering before I move on to anything else.

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Ah, yes, attitude is a very tricky position - just ask someone to draw a dancer in an attitude croisée sometime, the results are usually pretty funny! The big problem for the dancer is controlling that bent part of the leg, because sometimes it feels like it's not attached to you any more, just because it's behind you. This is when the mirror becomes important! Poor rotation will increase this feeling of disconnectedness, and when you do one, you have to work to keep the shoulders from twisting out of alignment. Now, having a good flexible back is a good thing for arabesques and attitudes. There, you have to be careful, though, that you don't arch the back in arabesque (or attitude) and stick out your ribs in what my first teacher called "pouter pigeon" style. If you've never seen a pigeon like this, their chests stick 'way out, almost as if they had been inflated, like an automobile tire!;)

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One of the reasons so many students have trouble with attitude is because they do just what Mr. Johnson just decscribed with their torso. And, one of the reasons that this often happens is because the arms are too far back, especially the side arm. Check your basic position of the arms for croisé devant or croisé derrière, and be sure that THAT is the position you are using for your attitude, and that you are not moving the arms further back than your control zone.

 

Another good way to check your attitude is to stand square to the mirror. Place your leg in a tendu back, directly behind your shoulder so that you do not see it when you start lifting the leg to an arabesque. Then bend the leg into the attitude, keeping the shoulders square. You should see the foot of the attitude leg on the OTHER side of your body. So, if you are lifting your right leg, you should see the foot on the left side of your body when facing square to the mirror.

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Guest ziva cvar

Hello, the theme you all opened seems interesting also for me, because I have a kind of this like problem too. When I do plie or develope(seconde) my hips are so closed. But I do all stretch-ups possible. How can I be more opened in hips??

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ziva, if you are doing all the stretches and working hard on your rotation, then there is really nothing more you can do. There is no magic potion, nor any one thing that is going to create instant rotation. It takes a long time, a lot of work, a lot of patience, and even then every person has their own limit in terms of just how much change can be achieved. Tight hips can be improved, of course, but the degree of improvement depends a great deal on your structure, and also on how early you started working on it. Adults will get far less change than younger students. Learning to use what you have really well is important though. Where and how you place your your leg in à la seconde can make a large difference in how turned out it looks.

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Guest ziva cvar

Thank you for telling me that, I kindda already thought that I can never make it look different. I acctually noticed that when I am doing ballet constantly it improves slowly. I was just a bit concerned because my teacher said that if you dont have naturally you almost cant be opened!

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Guest Nadezhda

Ziva, that is a myth and they kept telling me the same. It took me 4 years to realize, something can be done about my turn out and by that time I was too old to get accepted to the programme in the National Ballet School. The second time I came there (after 4 years) they didn't even want to let me audition, because they said nothing could have changed. :mad:

 

I am really upset about this kind of thinking and am doing a lot to bring people to knowledge. The process is hard and slow. :(

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Guest ziva cvar

thank you, I sometimes really dont know what to do, because I see that many things can be done by working hard . But then someone who is responsible begins to tell you somethings you dont agree to. And that hurts me so much becouse I like ballet so much. However, I dont know if that is ballet theme anymore but that can be deleted. I just wanted to say I am happy you found someone else that tought you ballet even if you weren't accepted to nationnal program. And by the way there is a final production in the 6th and 7th of april I think. So if you are interested you can go and watch it!Ž.

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No, that's all right, ziva! Ballet is life, and in life we have to make a lot of compromises, just to get along. Technique is like that. Very seldom will you have to change EVERYTHING, RIGHT NOW! in order to work better. It's a long, slow process, and sometimes dancers who looked like they had no chance at all when they were thirteen, change into the most unusually gorgeous dancers! It's a strange thing to see the beautiful butterfly that you recall as a creepy-crawly caterpillar!:(

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Guest ducklingdance

i have lousy turnout too. my legs are a bit hyperextended. i have to work very hard to close the gap between my knees. one of my guest teacher onece asked us to put a coin between the knee and hold it there. i kept dropping it bcos i can't close the gap. i almost cried because he say i'm not trying. but the fact is i' trying so hard that my thighs are going to cramp. but now after training given by my lovely Miss tucker, i am able to close it. she told me she had hyperextended legs too. she had work very hard. now i know it's not impossible for thing to happened, just have to train hard and smart. correct?

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