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Quads taking over!

Guest limeymauve

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Guest limeymauve

hi, I have a problem I thought some of you might be able to help me with. I have been dancing for about 11 years, and am now 16. Just for background, I'm not extremely serious, and I don't intend to be a professional or anything, I just dance because I love to. That being said, ever since i can remember I haven't had good front or side extensions, even though I can get my leg up pretty high if I'm holding it. I never knew why until about a year ago, when someone finally told me that it's wrong to grip with the quads and that you need to use your inner thighs too. SInce then, I've been trying to correct it, but it's not getting much better, and my extensions are still barely 90 degrees. I can't seem to keep my quads from taking over, and I don't know how it feels to do an extension the right way, so I can't train myself to do it. Any advice on how I undo ten years of training?? Sorry for the long message, but i wanted to tell you all the details.

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Hi, limeymauve and welcome to the Young Dancers' Forum here at Ballet Talk on Ballet Alert! Online! :)


You've got some unlearning to do, first, so that's going to take some time. While you have flexibility, you seem to lack strength that gets the leg where you want it, but that will come. You use the muscles under the leg to lift the leg, and front is a particularly difficult direction for developpés. The quads DO come into play, but only at the end of the extension, to straighten the knee.

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Hi limeymauve :) I did a quick search and found one of the gazillion times that I have written about this problem here. I hope this post will help!


Victoria Leigh Posted: Nov 6 2001, 01:49 PM



Sounds like you are gripping the thigh muscles, specifically the quadriceps, in your extensions. Instead of thinking of inner or outer muscles, try thinking of the energy for lifting the leg coming from underneath, or behind the legs. One way to help you feel this is to take a breath at the moment before the developpé, while in the retiré position, and exhale as you unfold the leg. Try to imagine a force coming from underneath your leg to lift it up! The quad muscle will contract at the top of the extension, when the knee is straight, however the work will have been done more from the hamstrings and the energy pattern throughout the body which allows the leg to "release" into the developpé instead of gripping everything to get it there. Also, since you have just returned to ballet, I would suggest that you not push for the world's highest extensions right away! Just go for placement, rotation, and a feeling of some freedom in the extension.


[ November 06, 2001: Message edited by: Victoria Leigh ]






Ms. Leigh

Ballet Mistress/Ballet Alert! Writer :)

Temporarily NOT accepting Private Messages

PLEASE address all Washington Ballet questions by email to vleigh@washingtonballet.org

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Guest limeymauve

thanks, guys! i'll keep your advice in mind. I hope if i concentrate enough on those other muscles, eventually they'll learn to work the right way. also, since i know that a lot of the height of extensions has to do with where your knee is, do you think it would help to practice just bringing the knee up without straightening, as a sort of isolation?

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Guest imadancer

hi everybody,

i have the same problem. my teacher said to only flex your quads at the end of developpe like Ms. Leigh said.

ps. i think the isolation idea will work very well-i'll definately try it! :)



Post edited by moderator to correct the use of a 2 for the word "to".

Edited by Victoria Leigh
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