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Ballet Talk for Dancers

passé retiré


Susanne

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If you are not strong enough to hold a passé retiré with your highest demi-pointe, is it better to lower it in order to being able to balance without support from the barre? or is it better to get that hight demi-pointe no matter what but with no chance whatsoever to let your hands off the barre?

 

Would it be harmful not to rise to your highest demi? Because I feel as I don't even stand a chance to balance if I really try to go up to my highest demi-pointe, it seems as my ankles are far too weak to support my whole body-weight on just one of them. (I'm already trying to strenghten my ankles with elevés and relevés)

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Susanne,

I'm curious to see what one of the teachers will advise you. I would have thought that balancing on a low demi pointe would actually be far more difficult in terms of strength. My calves burn when I do low rises! If you're really on the supporting side and using your back correctly, balancing shouldn't really feel like it's taking any effort at all. If your working hip is up and you're pulling away from the barre, it's going to take a lot of strength to hold yourself up there, but it's not the right muscles working.

 

My teacher in college actually had me work on a low demi-pointe for a few weeks because I was rolling forward on my foot en pointe (I have natural pronation and hyperextension, as well as flexible feet). He wanted me to feel like I was really releve-ing through the middle of the foot. It helped me become much stronger. I have some extra exercises my current teacher gave me which are similar as well. But these are all "extra" exercises for a temporary weakness. In class, I always do a full releve.

 

I'm just curious why you feel like your ankle can't support you on full releve. Are you losing balance? Do your ankles "give out" and collapse or does your whole body go off balance? If it's the latter, I'd guess that your alignment in general is off. You shouldn't lower just to have "wiggle room" in your balances. You may build some bad muscle memory that way and tighten some muscles and tendons that you don't want tightened.

 

I'm no expert though. Curious to see the responces.

 

I just wanted to add that I'm particularly interested in this because I see a LOT of students not using thier full releve. I hear an occasional correction on this, but it seems like such an important thing that should be corrected all the time. I know that it feels much different on my body whether or not I'm fully "up".

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Hmm lampwick. Yes so I'vve been told also by all my teachers (that a high demi-pointe is easier) I think that my problem might be my lack of flexibility in my ankles. I just can't "get over" enough so that my ankle bones are right above my toe-joint, which means that in order to achieve my best demi I'll have to push and struggle with my feet. As long as I'm on demi (in 1st position) on both feet it's OK because I push my feet diagonaly outwards like this: /\ which helps me to achieve a higher demi but when I'm on just one foot, I don't have any other force that pushes except my own strength in my foot.

 

So when I'm in a "comfortable" demi, it looks rather like a 1/3 point. With "comfortable" I mean, when my ankle isn't totally locked, where I can adjust my foot a little bit if I happen to loose my balance.

 

Yes, I find it difficult to stand on demi on one foot without sickling too. If I don't sickle I'm only balancing on one tiny bit of my big-toe-bone, then it's easier to loose balance. If I sickle a little bit I will have a larger surface for me to balance on = easier.

 

I really hope this wasn't too confusing. I tend to write confusing posts! :rolleyes:

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Susanne,

No. Your post isn't confusing at all. If your instep doesn't reach directly above your toes yet, then your arch may not be helping to bear any weight. YOUR demi-pointe probably does require quite a bit more strength to hold than mine. Just a guess.

 

By the way, I didn't sickle. I did the opposite. Rolled forward onto my big toe en pointe. I tend to sickle a bit nowadays, but that's a whole, long, boring story about my inner thigh muscles. I'm re-training my alignment and some things need to take a temporary back seat. It's too much to explain. :)

 

Sounds like you're right, you need some more instep/ankle flexibility. As far as the low/high releve, I'll leave for a teacher to advise. I personally feel that balance adjustments should be made with the abdominals and back, instead of the feet. Once you are in pointe shoes, you won't have the luxury of adjusting with your feet. If you're in your high "locked" releve, and you fall backwards, probably means your weight is back. Fll to the side, and you're too far side. Falling off balance can be very informative and helpful :rolleyes: It WILL be difficult to find the perfect balancing point with your foot in a full releve. But once you discover the relationship between the abdominals, back, and hip placement, ballet will feel ten times easier. That working leg will be free enough to do whatever it needs to.

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  • Administrators

Getting to the correct place and position is first, balance second. Hold the barre and get there, and forget about trying to balance until you can stand at the top of YOUR relevé. Do not work at a lower place than your best, as that will accomplish nothing and it can also put too much strain on the achilles tendon. You will have to work very hard with your abs, upper back, gluteus, and just under the gluteus muscles to make this work. It's partly foot and ankle, but just as much work with the rest of the body too! :rolleyes:

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Susanne, another little tip (I don't know if you apply it, but from your description, I'm not sure you feel the releve this way):

 

Instead of feeling like the heel goes OFF the floor (it will of course :D ) feel instead that your feet/foot is PUSHING AGAINST it. Feel like your toes and the ball of your foot (what's in contact with the floor) create a suction pad instead of trying to 'fly' above the ground. Push the floor like your foot could actually push the whole building down. A teacher used to say to me: the floor will not move, it's your friend. That's the only thing you can rely on, so please USE it! (and he was right!)

Not only will you obtain a higher releve with less effort, you will find that eventually, it helps to find your balance too. :wink:

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Susanne, not advice but a world of encouragement: I used to struggle immensely with my retiré balances. For about a year after we started to do them, taking classes three times a week, it was a rare day I could even lift my hand from the barre, let alone get it to an actual first or third position. My teacher also adviced that it's better to hold a good position with the barre than to sacrifice anything in order to make it easier, so I just kept on struggling to the correct position holding the barre tightly, and little by little first my touch on the barre got lighter, then I started to be able to lift my hand from the barre just a little and put it back without losing the position, and now I get to actually balancing in most classes. :wink:

 

It felt to me that it was no use even try the balances as I couldn't even lift my hand from the barre, but it seems now that the process gradually strengthened me and made me ready for them. I am grateful to my teacher for encouraging me to continue trying even when I felt so stupid about it.

 

Now I'm repeating the process for attitude balances, but it seems to go faster (just yesterday I lifted my arm to the third for the first time, and lowered it back to the barre too, without coming down!), but now I am not desperate with it. I am quite ok with just holding the barre and learning the position, as I know from experience that this will eventually lead to balances.

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Guest beckster

I wanted to ask about something similar ... I cannot get a good high releve either. In my case I think it is because my toes are very short and they don't bend enough! Doing a plie on demi to try and push the instep forward just hurts and doesn't seem to achieve anything. Also I am only balancing on four toes as my little toe is just too short, and if I get tired I tend to sickle because of this. Is there anything I can do or am I just built wrong!??

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Guest kristinene

I don't feel like I should give advice either, just some support!

 

I think balances are one of those things that get easier with time, and for me, they are the hardest thing to get back when returning to ballet! I always have to remind myself to check my alignment all the way down my body - head to toe. Usually something is off, and that is what makes everything difficult.

 

Good luck, and I'll think of you next time I'm wobbling in retire!

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  • Administrators

Becky, forget the little toe! Lots of people have a short toe that does not quite reach the floor in a high demi pointe. Don't try to put it on the floor, as that is what causes the sickle! :blink:

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Thank you for the little toe advice! I have been trying not to grip with my toes, but I think that in trying to relax and stretch out my little toes, I'm letting my weight go over in that direction. Sounds as though it would be better to think about that center/second toe area, spreading toes as possible without worrying so much about that little one. Did I interpret it correctly? Thank you!

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  • Administrators

Basically just continue working on the flexibility in your feet, Becky. The toes may or may not have anything to do with the problem, but it is most likely just a tight foot.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest beckster

Just dragging this up again because I noticed something in class last night. I forgot my shoes, and I noticed that my feet on demi-pointe looked an awful lot better than usual. There was a much straighter line between my foot and my leg. I like my shoes very fitted, but wondered if they might be a bit too small and whether this could constrict my toes on demi?

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