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Standing on one leg

Guest distantdancer

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Guest distantdancer

It sounds so easy! Why, oh why, can't I do it!? Awww, I know it's cause I'm a beginner and have no strength, so basically I'm just asking all of you adult beginners out there: When were you able to balance on one leg? How long did it take before you felt comfortable in passe releve or preparations for pirouette. I can balance on one leg at the barre just fine, but as soon as I let go of the barre I start to twist and fall over. We have just started learning pirouettes, which are pretty hard to nail if you can't even stand on one leg reliably. I'm interested to hear how you got through the 'shaky' beginner phase! :)

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My ballet master says that standing on one leg is what makes ballet so hard.

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Just to give one landmark: I've done ballet now for 1,5 years, quite exactly, and I'm still in the shaky phase. I have an hour-long class 2-4 times a week.


Recently, since Christmas, I've started to occasionally (say, once in five or six tries) be able to let go of the barre and actually hold a retiré balance on demi-pointe for longer than one count. I've never so far felt actually comfortable in that balance.


I now can also balance in fifth on two feet on demi-pointe tolerably (only sometimes taking tiny step to correct), and do a retiré balance on flat with correct alignment and reasonable turnout; these took about a year both.


Since my balance has become better, single pirouettes en dedans are cleaning up, they are even solid some days when done with a piqué. En dehors I can do occasionally; maybe one in three or four is ok if I do only the pirouettes. In combinations it's less.

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Distant Dancer,


Hi, I see you are also a fan of Finis' tapes.


2 of his tapes - "The Standing Leg"

and also his "Ballet Technique Level 1" deal with balances.


I don't know if you have these.


Something my teacher has done to help us - we do barrework additionally without the barre in the center. It forces you to use your standing leg better. In addition, doing 1 footed s.l.o.w. releves with one foot in a coupe position helps, which has been given us as homework in groups of 8, then 16, then 32 for each leg. You work up to them. Count to 4 up, count to 4 down.


Another way to work this is to stand on one leg with one leg in pique (make sure you are turned out) and eleve. Check your balance, keep your hand on the barre very light, use two fingers, then release them. Try doing it with your eyes closed, stay close to the barre, but without holding it - just in case you feel like you will fall.


In Finis' tape Technique Level 1 he is really really thorough about working your balance and checking it on one and both legs. If you don't have this video (he was adamant that I start with this one) I think you will really be glad to add it to your stable of vids. If you do, pull it out and watch it again.


Best of luck!

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Forgot to mention, I've been studying just over one year.

I take class 3 or 4 days per week - which is what has made a huge difference.


I've also noticed I have good and bad days physically, what makes a good day? Not really sure, but usually it is due to enough sleep and little alcohol, plus vitamins and lots of fish and protein.


I don't know how often you take class, but you really need at least 2x per week, and 3 preferably.


Hope this helps!

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I've been an adult beginner for six years (or maybe seven...) and still find this difficult! Strength is the major problem (or rather lack of it due to my lack of time to attend classes as regularly as I'd like,) which for some reason makes balancing difficult.:P


On thing which I find really helps is to think "UP UP UP" and DON'T LOOK DOWN! focusing my eyes on a point just above my eye level really helps to keep all the torso straight (hold your stomach muscles in) whilst you hold your turnout and keep thinking UP UP UP!;)


Hope this makes sense!

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I recently came to the conclusion that for me alignment and balance are more of an issue than strength; although, all along my mindset has been that stregthening legs and core muscles would improve my balance. Our teacher told us to focus on a far away object, or look beyond the hand (depending on the pose)- and that has really helped more than any strengthening exercises I have done. Maybe even one day I won't do that little wobble-topple-hoppy-dance during adagio in the center!

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One thing I have noticed that effects my balance is how tight my hip flexors are. If I am stretched out and my hip flexors are not tight then my pelvic/hips align easier, and I don't have to fight so much to get my weight over my demi pointe. If my hip flexors are tight, then I feel as if I am fighting to get my pelvic area in alignment over my demi pointe and my weight never really gets where it needs to be....instead my weight is over my heels, making it harder to stay up and balance. One instructor I have had explains it as "pulling up the front of the hips" and feeling as if you have something heavy on your lower back to try to get the right alignment. Up the front, Down the back.

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Guest distantdancer

The Ballet Technique level 1 is the one that I have I think (with Jennifer?). I understand about the center and the theory of shifting your weight, etc but my body refuses to go along with my brain! I will start adding the releve exersises those sound killer! LEB, I totally agree about the alignment thing. I feel very solid with one hand on the barre and I can feel my rotation and balance but as soon as I take my hand off of the barre I lose my alignment, maybe I'm just psyching myself out. Thanks for all of the replies, it's comforting to know that there are others out there with the 'wobblies'!!:P Just out of curiosity, how long do you figure an advanced dancer can hold a balance on one leg?

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Oh, forgot. My teacher uses an image where you have a strong rubber band running from the knee of the leg in retiré to the shoulder blade of the supporting side. When you pull up, this imaginary band pulls your shoulderblade down and the working leg towards turnout. The image indeed helps some.

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Don't forget that it's possible to pull up so much that you forget to ground yourself. Think about pushing down into the floor to go up. Concentrating on the connection between my shoulders and pelvis has been the main thing that has helped with my balance. I pull up, but I'm also thinking "down" through the shoulders and ribs. The pelvis is pulling up and the shoulders are going down to meet the pelvis (but not with so much force that you are hunching - your back should still be properly aligned). This has been key in improving my turns - I always used to fall backward out of my turns because I was trying to pull up too much.


Pointhill - I can relate to your point about the hip flexors - If I'm not adequately loose in that area, it makes getting centered and balanced really difficult. There is an image from one of Erik Franklin's books that I've found really helpful. You imagine the tops of your femurs as gears that are rotating out from the pelvis - it really helps you find your rotation and balance at the same time. But my hip flexors have to be warmed up/stretched in order for me to use this image effectively.

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Guest piccolo

I'm a big fan of images helping your technique. Try this one on for size: You are a tree. A solid trunk with the roots growing and spreading into the ground and your upper branches reaching for the sky. If you can feel this opposition in your body while keeping your center muscles engaged and steady, it'll help.


Also, I once saw a professional jazz dancer go up in fifth releve, developpe one leg to the side (still on releve) to a dizzying height and stay there. She came down of her own will. She could have been up there forever.

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distant dancer - yes that is the one I'm talking about.


If you do all the balances and the little bits where he gets the heel off, you will find you are more relaxed. It helps me stay up.


I've also discovered that the more straight I feel inside (Finis calls it a solid Number 1), I feel the working in opposition. I do the exercises in very slow motion.


My teacher has us do everything much slower than normal, which really requires focus on stabilization. It really helps me.


Think of it as flowing the gravity from one side to the other, the opposition of pushing down on the floor to lengthen up, the focus on your stomach muscles to pull you in and up.


Since I started learning pointe, my alignment has been constantly improving. I'm focusing on placement over my knee, keeping my leg straight, keeping my back straight, and placing the center of gravity on the 3 points - ball, big toe, second toe. Everything is a straight line up.


Also try relaxing and not worrying about it - just try to make the wobble less and less - feel stronger and more quiet mentally.


Finis really helped me, but slowing down and being aware of my placement has helped the most - rather than forcing it.


Mel put it eloquently - think of the stork.

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Guest scuffite

I have been doing ballet for little over a year now and on bad days, I stay on one leg for about 3 counts and on a good day, I feel so stable and like I can stand like that forever! It has been a lot of frustration to get to this though but my teacher really helped me a lot. These are some of my teacher's pointers:


1) before you let go off the barre, make sure you have centred your weight over the supporting leg

2) the knees of the supporting leg have to take the weight strongly and should not buckle over

3) keep pushing your supporting leg down against the floor

4) keep lifting your torso. lift up, up, up!

5) you abs have to be strong and tight to hold your upper body up

6) this is a little to describe, but your shoulder blade muscles at your back have to be used. essentially, even before you let go off the barre, you should have engaged these muscles. this definitely helps in stabilising the upper body.

7) long neck and look up. The position of the head is important to your stability. Don't look down or tilt your head.


So many pointers, huh? When I started ballet, I would flop down the moment everyone started balancing. My teacher has been great. Don't worry about there being so many pointers. Start with a few until you get a bit of balance and then add on.

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