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How to jump


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This other day in class our teacher made us do plié-revlevé-jump(suté) on one leg/foot. I realised that I simply can't jump on one leg! I leave the ground by a couple of centimeters, which means there is no room for my feet to point at all. And I also realised that's ther reason to why my assemblés are horrible and not improving.


What can I do to increase the height in my jumps on one foot? Which one is most probably the weakest point?


Should I strengthen my feet or/and my legs? Which parts of the legs? How can I strengthen my feet?

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Suzanne, I will assume that you are very warmed up by the time you begin to jump, and that the achilles tendon is nicely stretched from lots of demi pliés. From there, I think it might be helpful to understand the principle of rebound. Yes, you must have strong feet and calf muscles, of course, but most people can do a few jumps, even from one foot, if they know how to USE the plié correctly and understand that a jump is a reaction, not an action. Think of a rubber ball, and how, if you want it to bounce higher you lift it higher before the downward thrust of energy. If you just drop it, it does not bounce as high. So, it needs to have more up/to go down/to go up energy, which creates the rebound. It's a circular action, not an up and down. You need to make your plié just in time to rebound back up, like a ball! :D Keeping the body at a very high level when you plié is also important. If your weight drops into the plié you will not "bounce" back up, and the jump would have to come strictly from calf and foot strength.

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As Ms. Leigh said, rebound is very, very important, and with petit allegro I generally imagine I'm one of those super-springy bright-coloured rubber ###### that were popular in the 80s, and that I can keep on jumping forever with minimal force. :D


I would like to add another image which has been helpful to me in the cases where I need a more forceful jump and good rebound is not for some reason available. I imagine that I'm pushed up from under my buttocks, and that I'm shooting up like a rocket. (My straightened jumping leg is the exhaust fumes pushing down to get me up.) The image is admittedly less than graceful, but it seems to get me a good jump every time, no matter how tired I am. :blushing:


If the above image makes you feel too ridiculous, you may have to invent your own. The key for me was the realization that instead of pulling up (and tensing my shoulders in the process) I should think of pushing down so that the ground will push me up. The floor is much better at hiding the effort of lifting me than I am. :P



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Geat advice, both of you -- it's key to keep your upper body compact, so it doesn't slosh around on top of your legs -- and it really helps me to pretend someone just pinched me or goosed me under hte butt --


It ALSO helps to practice it at the barre -- to work on fondu.... it's not a plie if it's on one leg, you have to practice fondu -- which is harder to turn out...... I work on it facing the barre and do "all of the jump except the foot" -- slowly, down down, up up -- and then I do it with releve, still pretty slow, so I feel all the connections and keep the alignment right; it's really helped my jumps from one foot to build the strength in fondu.....

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Thanks for picking up on that, Grace. It's important, and applies to many things, including pirouettes. It's all in the "uptogodowntogoup" and righttogolefttogoright! :thumbsup:

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Thank you for all your replies! Now it seems so obvious when you have answered my question that I can't help feeling a little bit stupid :blushing:


The fondu-thing made me realise that my fondues are not nearly as deep as my demi-pliés, so I guess that is one part of the problem! I'll be practising a lot of fondues from now on!


I guess the reaction and not action thing can never be repeated too many times :thumbsup: It made me analyze my jumps on two feet (which I think are acceptable jumps) and realize that I do jump as an reaction while on two feet, so now I "only" have to learn my body to do it on one foot :thumbsup:

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I think the eternal struggle/challenge for so many dancers is the initiating jump -- the action from which all of those reactions follow. :wacko:


I'm especially intrigued by the newcomers to dance who have that innate jump. There's no technique behind it -- the springing quality is just natural with them. What, anatomically, do you think contributes to it, since they don't have enough training to be able to explain it themselves?


I do empathize with what our thread starter talked about -- I have times when I feel I need to have the 'brick' in my behind surgically removed. :thumbsup::thumbsup::blushing:

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Actually, FF, the first jump is NOT the action! The action is the lift and then the downward thrust of energy into the demi plié which creates the first jump, which is a reaction.


Those with a natural jump usually have a very stretched achilles, strong calf muscles, and are frequently, but not always, slightly bow legged! They will generally have been somewhat athletic as well.

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Oh yes, Miss V, I understand what you've explained so well (in my mind), but some days it just seems hard to push off into that first jump from which all others emanate. And I do have long achilles tendons -- my demi plies are very deep, but no knock knees here. I'm what Mel would call the "X" in the word "OX." :thumbsup:

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A lot of good advice in this thread.


Having been around a lot of people who can jump seriously high, I’d say the commonality that they have is that they have a very high percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers and little fat. Not so much muscle mass either. And that’s about it. Track and field high jumpers (both males and females) tend to be tall and skinny. But they are jumping over a bar. Shorter, more compact people can’t jump as high (as in high jumping), but they can often jump higher in relation to their height when compared with taller people.


But I don’t think that jumping in dance is so much about how high you can actually jump as it is about giving the impression of flight. That’s technique and skill working rather than jumping ability. Technique and skill develops with time and by doing all the exercises we normally do in a ballet class.


One thing that has yet to be suggested that might help develop a feeling of rebound is to do old-fashioned rope skipping. It isn’t very hard on the joints, develops rhythm, and after a short time you will find yourself skipping on one leg.

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One of my teachers, after watching the summer olympics one year, noted that the runners who seemed to do best (particularly at hurdles) were those who had the most well developed inner thighs. Something to think about. In the past year, I have begun doing ancillary exercises for abductors and adductors, and find it does help some (if nothing else, to show me how much more I need to work).


Also, I've had a couple of teachers concur that for those who are hyperextended like moi, we have to work harder at feeling that inner thigh working (things like crossing a bit after coming through first in ronde de jambe).


Also, just plain good overall stamina helps with jumps, which involves all of those things we know we're supposed to do -- eat a good breakfast, stay hydrated, get enough rest, etc. I gotta tell ya, dancing in an extremely warm clime is great for stretching, but it's murder for stamina. It's much harder to maintain that energy when you're sapped by the time you enter the studio on some days.

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Just read Ms. Leigh's description of the "natural" jumper and it fits me exactly :thumbsup: (except the athletic part...although I did play soccer for a while). I also have to wonder how much is due to being placed in one of those harnesses that hangs from the ceilings from elastics as a baby--what are they called? They have some cute name that I can't remember--I could jump to my heart's content :thumbsup: Come to think of it, that might be a good image to use--you do have to push down in a jump, but don't get so caught up in pushing down that you forget to go up! Try and feel as though you are being pulled upward/suspended by your hips as you plié. The feet press down, the hips & spine lift up.

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I actually asked one of my friends who is a field high jumper on quite a high level how he jumps on one foot (they are only allowed to take off from one foot) He told me to stand on demi-pointe while brushing my teeth to strenghten my ankles and when I can manage that, to close my eyes while standing on demi-pointe.


It is amazing how alike the jumping technique is compared with ballet. They have to keep the upperbody in some sense "square" too and he thought that the best way to land in order to get the best "reaction" in the jump is to land on a very flexed foot on your heel so that the reaction (in the calves and achilles) helps you to "pop" up. That could be compare with "our" pliés. Of course they don't have to look good so they can get the maximum benefit of the height intead. I guess all that is only those old laws of physics!

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Just wanted to encourage all those hyperextended and slightly knock-kneed people out there. My legs are ever-so-slightly knock kneed but quite hyperextended and I have always been a great jumper. It's actually one of the only things that came easy for me in ballet.


I'm beginning to think that Irish Step dancing could have been my true calling. Enough of this turnout and graceful upper body carriage. Those are the things I don't have in abundance...


Seriously though, I think having feet that articulate well can also add quite a bit to both the height and quality of small jumps. I think that using the feet well can make your jumps look much higher than they are. Tendu is useful for everything.


Funny Face, I sympathise with the inner thigh dilemma. To lift my leg a la seconde, my leg needs to be very forward to even BEGIN to feel the inner thigh lifting, instead of my quads. I danced with my leg straight side for years and developed a hell of a hip problem from knotted tendons/quad muscles. I really am starting to believe that certain body constructions need supplimental training to develop the appropriate strength for ballet. It's great that your teacher is working with you on this.

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