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low leg?

Guest brown-eyed-girl

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Guest brown-eyed-girl

I have trouble getting my a le seconde(sp?) any higher than hip level. I am 14, tall, and very thin (I'm not sure whether that makes a difference or not) and I have been dancing for about 5 years. Most of the girls in my level can get their legs very high, and I don't think I should be in a lower level, but I just can't lift my leg that high :) . I have been very disciplined about keeping my hips in alignment, turning out the working and standing leg, and working with good technique, but I worry that I am not improving at all. My question is mainly whether this is related to flexibility issues or if it is lack of strength. Any exercises that might help would be glady appreciated as well.

Thanks so much,

Dancer in Distress :pinch:

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Hi, brown-eyed girl and welcome to the Young Dancers' Forums here at Ballet Talk on Ballet Alert! Online! :)


Extension is a two-part operation, and it works best if both parts are developed simultaneously. The two parts are flexibility and strength. First a quick check - do you have the flexibility to do a jambe dans la main (You know, that stretch where you carry the leg with the foot in your hand to the front and then to à la seconde 'way high up there)? Then, if you can do that, can you hold the leg there once you've let go with your hand? This is both a good test and a good exercise for checking and working on extension. Very few, like no, dancers can hold their hips absolutely square when working extension higher than hip level, but the amount of rise to the hip can be minimized. It's all practice, practice, practice! :pinch:

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Guest brown-eyed-girl

Thank you so much for a fast and helpful response! I already understand my problem better. I can do the jambe dans la mian but when I try and hold my leg there it falls back down to just above hip level-which is a slight improvement. I'll keep trying, but is that what you meant by practice?

thanks again- you were a great help :pinch:

(and you boosted my confidence a little about my flexibility)

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AHA! This is a very good sign! Now, your next job is not to let the leg fall AS far next time, by supporting it from underneath the leg with the muscles that are used to turn it out. Pull inwards and upwards with the lower abdominal (tummy) muscles, and hold the back and midriff muscles as balances for one another. There's more to it than just that, but let's just get the next couple inches into that extension, OK?


(See, I'm leading you to practice! Suggest one improvement at a time, and then a little after that, and after that, and so forth....) :pinch:

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Guest meliss83

i have a question with this as well. When i hold my hand with my leg and let go i can keep my leg just about where i held it with my hand... it lowers a little, so i guess thats an alright amount of strength, but... when i try to lift my leg to that height from regular standing first position it is much much harder and i can't get it quite as high? is there a reason i can do one but not the other? and is there anything to help that? thanks!



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Of course there is - just follow this thread as it develops and try the things that come out of it, and remember, there's no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to technical stuff. We'll be getting brown-eyed-girl to where you are in fairly short order, probably within a month, and then we can all proceed together from there. In the meantime, practice the jambe dans la main with a view toward achieving mastery in placement, especially to the front and making the transition to à la seconde without a rolling of the hip.

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OK, easy! :wink: What I meant was taking a developpé to the front and then carrying it to the side with what can only be described as an old-fashioned burlesque dancer's "grind" (You can pull all the stops out, 'til they call the cops out,/Grind your behind till you're banned....). The whole pelvis just sort of rotates on the end of the spine! That's what you want to avoid! :blink:

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Also please be very careful of not rolling the supporting knee as you move the leg from the front to the side and come up out of the plié! This is a very, very common thing that happens, and a very, very bad thing. So, control the standing leg too!

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The following comes from one of our teachers on the board, and since it is certainly a most valid and important addition to this thread, I will post it here.



"Make sure your weight is centered over your standing leg while the leg is in second. If your weight is on the heel of your standing leg (or farther) the muscles of your hips and legs will tighten up to try to keep you standing off balance and inhibit your working leg from rising. Once recentered and properly balanced your muscles will be allowed to work on holding your leg up instead of just standing up."

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Guest russianptaylor

Thanks for the numerous amounts of excellent info. I can get my leg up in the rond de main step, or stretch, and can hold it but when I try to developpé it goes a little higher than 100 degrees. My teachers say I have the flexibility and I am lacking in the strength to get it up, but I am working on it, and it is gradually getting better. Keep on practicing and it will help.



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Ah, now this is more like it, russianptaylor, this we can work with. :)


Keep in mind that when you do a developpé, whether from retiré or fondu, that the knee sets the height of the extension. It mustn't drop or it's wrong. An extension of 100 degrees isn't bad for 13! In fact, that's right about where you should be. If you start to go into the developpé, though, and point your knee at the ceiling, you're committed! Either that high an extension as the leg unfolds or lower your sights. :sweating:

Just going into a jambe dans la main, letting go, and allowing the leg slowly(!) to come to its present top extension is a good way to start feeling the lift from the underside of the leg, and to become more aware of how properly to support extension, keeping all of the above advice in mind! :blushing:


I still had to do a little proofreading here, but this was a big step forward in posting content. Keep up the improvement! (Can you tell I once wanted to be an English teacher?) :thumbsup:

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Guest russianptaylor

Thanks for the tips, Mel. I will try this at my ballet class today. I thought 100 was pretty low though. I am probably wrong.



Edited by Mel Johnson
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Ah, ah, ah! That's MR. Johnson. Me teacher, you student. And I still had to proofread that post - including correcting the signature! :o Slow down! I'm making you my special project in improving writing style and clarity.

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