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Shoulder and Back Flexibility Problems

Guest frog

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I have horrible shoulder and back flexibility! Because of my lack of flexibility, it is holding me back in my classes. Is there any way to improve this? Thanks. :)





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Dear Frogi --


You didn't say how old you were or how long you had been studying. Take heart that all dancers perceive they have one limitation or another. Sometimes the limitations are things we're born with, and we will have to work harder to improve or overcome. I have what my orthopedist calls a "double dip" -- scoliosis and lordosis. Translated in English, this means that one shoulder is slightly lower than the other and you can also use my butt for a bookshelf if I'm not vigilant about my carriage. I don't have a great deal of back bend either. I'm sure that every teacher and dancer here could give you a different piece of advice about your question. For me, I concentrate on really lifting out of the hips before bending back, and doing a high back bend, really opening the mid-upper back and collar bone/shoulder area, and keeping my arm and head in line with the whole bend. You'll want to be especially careful not to push your hips forward to 'cheat' the bend backwards.


You can improve with time and effort and patience, but it may never be the bend of your dreams. In the meantime, work on all of your other elements -- extension and feet and stamina and musicality and expression and cleanness of movement. A back that is left than perfect doesn't need to hold you back with the rest of the class. Work on it, yes. But don't obsess with it to the point of not seeing and showing your stronger assets in your dancing.

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Thanks for fielding that one, Funny Face. (Usually we, Ms. Leigh and I, that is) want to have a crack at Young Dancers' posts first and then the kids jump in with followups or anecdotes. We don't usually have other adults contributing, and delete their posts, but this one was so helpful at a very opportune time, I think it had better stay.

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