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Guest Medora

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Guest Medora

Hi everyone. My teacher keeps telling me that I'm too tense and stiff in my upper body. I need to make everything look effortless instead of like a lot of hard work. She says I do some things nice, but I need to relax my upper body to make it look like something if that makes any sense. Like I need to loosen my upper body up so it doesn't do the work, my legs do, and I know that, but it's still too tense and it makes things I would otherwise do well not looks as good as they good. Basically, I need to relax! Can anyone help me?

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i get that all the time, my teacher walks by me at barre and makes me laugh to bet me to breathe and relax. what really helped is laying on the floor to find your arm positions and feeling the relaxation of the position and placement, then find that same feeling while standing and dancing and such. its releases the neck and shoulders, and helps place the upper body without struggling and tensing. thats one of the physical things that helped me, most of it is mental though. hope this helped, and anyone else who can input, i appreciate the help too!

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  • Administrators

Breathe! Very important. Seriously. EXHALE on the hard part of things, like on the pirouette. Take the breath in the preparation, and exhale as you go into the turn. Same with a developpe or grand battement. :wub:

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Guest Medora

Now that I think about it, I don't know how I breathe when I dance! I do exhale on extensions, but I think I hold my breath on hard things. I'll try that! Thanks :wink: I'll have to tell you how it goes. I want to look graceful, not like a log,... or something like that. :wub:

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Guest ballet princess

i have the bad habit of holding my breath sometimes... :gossip: my teacher is always telling me to BREATHE. I guess when a step is hard i just tense up. But its getting better now.

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Guest Terin

I'm really tense when I dance. :gossip: My teachers are alway stelling me to relax my shoulders, especially. I think what you said about breathing might help, Ms. Leigh. But does anyone know any exercises that might help relax my shoulders? Because that seems to be the main problem during class. :unsure:

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Guest ballet_barbie72

I used to be sooooo tense when I danced. I tried everything like breathing and things other people suggested. So I started to try things to relax me when I wasn't dancing. I used aromotherapy candles, had long hot relasing bubble baths, stuff like that...and it's worked! Good luck! :D

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I have never been told that my upper body was tense, but I'm constantly told that when I'm concentrating really hard on doing a combination well, not only do I get this funny little expression on my face, but that my hands look (and I quote) 'Spanish-y.' My teachers always tell me that I get so much tension in my hands at times, I look like a flamenco dancer!

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In marching band, to relax our shoulders, we shrug them up and down. It really helps me (and the other 140 people in my marching band). I think it should help in ballet, too.

As for the hands, just let them go, as my ballet teacher says (but don't forget to keep the energy flowing through them).

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I find that by just thinking about keeping a graceful, fairy-like upper body during your dancing helps you learn to do it better. After doing this, you'll find that it starts to come naturally.

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Mis leigh --


I just realized, this is a teens group..


I'm sorry,.


do what you like with this post.....


It's just conceivable that hte tension in your upper body,Medora, comes from forcing your turnout -- which means that your upper body is not properly supported, and youre having to grip it too hard in order to hold yourself up.


I mention this because it's something I do myself, not always but quite often.

It happens in my case for an odd reason -- my feet sweat a lot, which means that my (canvas) ballet shoes get quite damp, and they get a good grip on hte floor..... I unconsciously use htem to hold onto hte floor and make a sandwich fifth -- which looks great, but I'm torquing at the knee.

If I don't THINK about it, i keep on doing it.....

It's really important to be ON your standing leg and lifting up under hte hip, turinng out equally -- whatever the working leg is up to --


and also to be USING hte back and ab muscles/// I just got corrected in class this morning, in an extension to Ecarte, I was NOT using the upstage arm - - the downstage arm was fine, the head was turned great, but hte ohter arm looked like a chicken-wing -- I was in fact, not over my standing leg really, and an IMPORTANT reason for that was that I'd forgotten to strengthen hte whole standing side, and hte shoulder-blade and the arm in second were not engaged and reaching out from the center... as soon as i realized this, I tried again, brought that arm into focus, and my balance was rock-solid....


It might help you to practice really USING middle fifth as a gateway to all the other positions -- it's certainly helped me -- if I use it, I get my ribs contained, my spine centered, breast-bone lifted, and hten open out from there -- breathing becomes so much easier, and it's all MUCH more relaxed....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am also very tense when I dance. However, at a summer intensive I attended, the teacher made us sing while we were dancing and it really relaxed my upper body because I felt so silly. :sweating: I recall this as I dance so I can relax. Also, I was fortunate enough to see how beautifully some of the other dancers used their upper bodies. It was stunning. They breathed with their bodies and made everything look so effortless. I envision this as I am dancing and I try to imitate how they looked. Good luck! :)

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Guest five6seveneight

i find that sometimes im just thinking too hard and it makes me tense. obviously its vital to think while youre dancing, but sometimes it backfires if you do it too much. try just listening to the music more while youre dancing, have fun with it! :D it helps me loosen up a lot!

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Guest dancergal

My teachers tell me that too, usually when I'm trying to get a particularly difficult or long combination. My teacher will come up to me and shake my arm to try relax it, make me laugh, or tell me that you're actually allowed to breathe while you're doing a combination, even while you're concentrating.

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