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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Very flexible - Need advice


Pauline

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My dd had an evaluation at the end of her SI, which was great , but, has really raised alot of questions for us. I would love any feedback that anyone might have on this subject as well as any opinions (especially that of the professionals) .

 

We were told the following about my dd:

 

1. She has complete turnout from the hip, but, does not use it all the time, (especially during difficult floor combinations, when rushed through a combination she almost turns in!).

 

2. She is overly flexible and has slight hyperextension,(including her feet which are also highly arched). A very soft shank shoe was recommeded (Freed classics)

 

3. She needs more strength to accomodate her flexibility.

 

4. She has good extension, that will only get better as she gets stronger.

 

5. She is an "incredibly graceful" dancer.

 

I do think that this is basically a good evaluation. She has started doing exercises (given to us from a dance physical therapist) and is very motivated and determined to gain strength.

 

My husband and I are fairly new to the ballet world and just wonder if this issue is one that can be overcome. My dd is very serious about ballet (will be 13 in a few months) and has definately made the decision that this is what she has to do, there would be no way to stop her.

 

Do you (anyone) think that she can attain enough strength needed or is this a very difficult challenge that will haunt her forever. Is this a body type that can make the transition to a strong professional dancers ? Sorry if I sound a bit dramatic, but, with my dd's whole heart and soul in this I want to make sure I have MY eyes open as well.

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Pauline, this is an incredibly good evaluation! No 13 year old uses all of her rotation yet, and gaining the strength to control all that flexibility is far easier and more likely than someone trying to gain the flexibility in the first place! I have worked with a number of students with bodies like this, and also had this myself. It sometimes takes a bit longer for the strength to develop, however a child with rotation, good feet, and natural flexibility, along with the desire and commitment, is definitely considered gifted! :clapping:

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Ms. Leigh,

 

Thank you, I did think that this was a good evaluation, but, the fact that she almost turns in when doing certain floor combinations was worrying us alittle. The physical therapist said she will ALWAYS have to do these certain exercises throughout her life (in dance) to accomodate the flexibility, she will ALWAYS have a strength issue to contend with. This in itself sounded worrisome to us.

 

I was also told that a soft shank shoe is the best for her, because her foot needs to control the shoe and a hard shank shoe would control her foot. Do you think that a soft shank shoe (freed classic is what they suggested) is appropriate for her with this situation?

 

I definately trust the school it is a very reputable school in NY, I guess I just need alittle reassurance, with all the time, physical, and emotional energy that dd is putting into this I feel I owe her the research.

 

I have to say I just spent the last 1/2 hour looking through the archives and was thrilled with the information I found there!!!! :clapping:

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Pauline, glad you found the Archives! By the way, in case you have not been officially welcomed here, allow me to do that now. :clapping:

 

I must say I really wonder about the PT's remarks, especially the use of the word "always". I think that could be somewhat exaggerated. Not being able to see the child, it's hard to know, but I was one of those with exceptional flexibility and, while it took a bit longer than a more compact body would take, I certainly did gain the strength. And, the students I have worked with over the years did too. That's the problem for the teachers to handle, and develop carefully over time. Some additional work with therapists, or especially Pilates, could be helpful. We did not have that available when I was growing up!

 

As for the shoes, I would not put a 12-13 year old with excessive flexibility and a high arch into a soft shank. However, a hard shank may not be necessary either, depending on her strength. I would try a medium shank, and, if she breaks it, go to the hard. She will go through soft shanks way too quickly. Yes, she has to learn to control the shoe, however, without the strength to do so, she will just sink into them and break the shanks. This should not happen.

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Ms. Leigh,

 

thank you for the welcome, this is a great website, and sometimes quite addictive, although I am learning ALOT!

 

I think I may be slightly over emphasizing the therapists words. I tend to have a problem with my "glass is half empty" attitude. But I am trying to be realistic for the sake of my daughter.

 

I do think that putting her in a medium shank shoe makes more sense, although, they say her foot is quite strong . Her issues with strength seem to be the sides of her calf muscles and her core strength. Does core strength mean stomach strength or overall strength?

 

She was basically given: several theraband exercises , several exercises using two rotating discs (which are very nifty), releves in 6th while keeping a ball balanced between her heels, and stomach exercises. The therapist said she dosn't need to see her again unless she has an injury or her teacher suggests another evaluation. We are also going to try to get her in a floor barre class once a week,( we have not found a pilates studio that is convienient enough to get to yet, but, we will!! )

 

This new school has placed her for the fall, and she has decided she wants to stay, so, I hope that this next year will be one of growth for her.

 

Thank you so so much for your help :clapping: I definately don't feel as anxious about this as I previously did (Thanks to you and the archives!!!)

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Core strength would be the torso strength, based primarily on the stomach muscles.

 

The strength in her feet is not nearly as important as that core strength, and the leg strength. Working in a soft shank, with strong feet and weak torso is a sure bet for problems. I would probably keep her either off pointe or doing very minimal, barre only pointe until she is stronger.

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Pauline,

I read your post with interest. It does sound like your daughter has incredible potential and a body most dancers would be thrilled to have. I have seen some dancers like her and seen how they develop more slowly due to strength issues. So focusing on those will really make a huge difference.

 

The only other thing I might say is related to your comment "She has complete turnout from the hip, but, does not use it all the time, (especially during difficult floor combinations, when rushed through a combination she almost turns in!)." Based upon this comment, I would question whether or not she is in the right class. High level professional schools often "slow" dancers down to the point where they primarily are working on things that they can execute nearly correctly. I have seen the power of this approach first hand -- dancers who are able to perform many advanced moves but sacrifice correct technique when they do so, are slowed way down so they can focus on doing what they can do totally correctly before moving on to more advanced work.

 

Good luck to you and your daughter.

 

.

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Yes, you are right, Tendumom! I meant to mention something about that too. It's good to challenge them sometimes, of course, and working for some speed sometimes is okay, but I would hope that there would be a major portion of the center that would be at the level where she could learn to control and work the rotation properly. More of that ability will come as the strength develops too.

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Ms. Leigh,

 

They actually have placed her in a lower level pointe class for the fall , than she was in for the summer, (and during the summer she did alot of the pointe classes on flats). They said a good 4 or 5 months with pointe work at the barre would be very beneficial, and they will revaluate her then. She had started her physical therapy during the program, and after 3 weeks, they said that she had already shown slightly more strength, definately , more determination.

 

This at first was very upsetting to her, thinking she was not good enough etc...,but, I think she (and I) are starting to realize that she has to go at a different pace than some of the other kids her age. There are alot of kids even younger than her that can do some amazing pointe work. Unfortunately, she feels the need to compare herself to them. Hopefully, they will arrive at the same place, just at different times I guess.

 

I feel very hopeful, especially because, you have confirmed most of what they have said and done.

 

Once again, THANK YOU

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Sounds like they know what they are doing at her school, Pauline :D She is still very, very young. There is no rush. I don't believe in child prodigies in ballet. They need to grow and mature and develop into a dancer and an artist. It does not happen at 12 or 13, and comparing to others in any age group is not healthy. There are always some whiz bang technicians around, but they will have their own problems to deal with at some point. Right now hers is to just to learn and grow, and develop her strength along with technique. It takes at least 8, usually 10 years to develop a dancer, and I'm not talking about the years prior to 10 years old.

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Tendumom,

 

Thank you for your reply, I thinking I was already sending my last message when you sent yours.

 

And, your advice is also right on the money, according to the school, because they did move her down a level as I said. They actually said that it took a few days for them to pick up on her problem, because, she presents herself as a much more advanced dancer than she is. So, I guess they gave us bad news, but, in a good way.

 

We will just hang in there for a while, I am sure she has a long road ahead of her but she is definately up for the trip, so, I guess I have to be too!!

 

Thank you again for the advice, I am sure I will be back on this website with lots more questions as the months go by!!!

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Ms. Leigh,

 

Yes, that does make ALOT of sense.

 

I am constantly trying to get her to stop comparing herself, but, unfortunately it is in her nature. I do think that in a way, it keeps her motivated , for now, it does not seem unhealthy,because she really never got depressed. She also knew that her evaluation on the whole was a positive one, and now she knows exactly what she needs to work on.

 

It seems that her previous school advanced her to quickly, and I guess there are definately not any short cuts!! I didn't realize this at the time, because, I don't have a dance backround what so ever. (I also trusted the schools director)

 

This new school seems to be very attentive to her (as well as all their students), so I think I can now relax , because, she is in good hands .

 

It's great to now that whenever I am in doubt , incredible advice is just a mouse pad away. :D

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Pauline,

It does sound like the school has a very good handle on what your daughter needs and is taking an interest to make sure she gets it. It is often easier for a ballet school just to push students along, keep them with their peers, keep them happy, coming in the door and paying that tuition! So a school that is willing to do this is looking at the best interest of the dancer, not the business office and your daughter should feel very good about them taking this interest to make sure she is developing like she should.

 

Best of luck to your daughter - and you!

tendumom

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Guest monkeysdriver

Pauline, I can relate to the strength issue. Daughter is now 16, she has been struggling with strength for years. Her flexibility and extensions are amazing, but every evaluation until recently said "needs strengthening." At your daughter's age we believed it would come with time and continued dancing. At 14 she began to suffer injuries related to misalignments (her inner thighs were weaker than her outer thighs and that caused knee problems) and she finally started to work with a physical therapist when she was almost 15. After a year and a half of therapy, she is finally getting her strength, without losing the flexibility. My point is, you are lucky to realize at this age that your daughter needs extra help and I'm sure if she starts working on it now, she will definitely gain the strength she needs as she gets older.

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monkeysdriver,

Thank you for the encouraging message. I am glad to hear that it is working out well for your daughter.

 

I am starting to realize that this is just the down side to her bodytype. In the longrun , with continued determination and hard work, this may all come together for her.

 

Also, Tendumom, thank you for your good wishes!!

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