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Upper Body Stability in Sautes


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I was wondering if anyone else has had trouble keeping the upper body stationary or stable when doing sautes in first or changements. Sometimes I get into a good rhythm and my upper body stays relatively still. Sometimes I'm all over the place like an upside-down pendulum. Where should the stability come from? What muscles should be engaged beyond the usual? I don't seem to wobble front-to-back so could it be that my side muscles (if there is such a thing) are weak?

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You do have side muscles--your "obliques." However, it would probably help more to focus on keeping a vertical line of energy running up and down through your spine. Also, you have to "focus" your jump. That is, think about a spot directly above your head and jump toward it. If you feel that your body is going to a particular place in the air, it might help you keep your body still, as your whole body becomes involved in the jump that way, not just the legs. The back muscles are particularly important--make sure your shoulder blades are down.

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Hans is right. The lumbar and thoracic part of the spine must be kept under control. Just for once (!), try a set of small sauté movements while actually FORCING the shoulders down. Then let up completely on them and try again. Somewhere between the two will be your "control level" for keeping the back stable. (Bear in mind that we NEVER force anything while dancing, but once for a demonstration won't hurt.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

My own experience is that when my top starts to wander around in jumps, it is not due to a lack of strength, but rather the tendency to jump with my upper body rather than the pelvis. Doing what Mel says—i.e., trying to force your shoulders down would seem to eliminate that. I have not heard of that method of fixing the problem, but will definitely try it. Right now, I just try to concentrate on using the lower half of the body while jumping.


One of the things I find interesting is the technique used to jump really high (as say in high jumping or dunking a basketball) and its contrast to jumping as done in ballet. Definitely two different things.

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knock, knock


Not a man, but a woman - I have a similar problem when trying to do a single tour en l'air- I cannot seem to land on a clear 5th position, without my body wobbling to the side (like Pisa's tower, you see :P ) and me trying to fix the 5th from the feet. I have never paid much attention to this, because I thought of it as a "boy's" step, but wonder why I experience this.

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Silvy, a tour is simply a changement that happens to turn :P Seriously. Practice changement around the corner like quarter and half turns, and then just go a bit further until you have a tour! You jump from two feet to two feet. If you are tilting on the landing you are probably landing more on one foot than the other.

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Knock, knock.... also not a man, but I watched one of my male dancers Pilates private last night and was very interested in the fact that the teacher did jumps with him on the machine. She had a board at his feet and with him lying on his back and with the pullies, he did all kinds of jumps. Of course he had to keep his back flat against the board, and his shoulders were held firm by the pads on the reformer, and she could detect any variation in how he was landing (his achilles has been bothering him). It was really fascinating to watch realizing that the trunk had to remain stable cause he was lying on his back. I found it very interesting and thought it was a great way to feel the stabillity in the back and pelvis.

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knock knock (everybody's doing it :lol: )


I was doing some rehab therapy with a Pilates instructor and she made me do lots of jumps on the reformer (I didn't actually need much rehab, so we spent time on some specific ballet problems I was having). Very good for feeling stability in the torso.


My teacher has been hounding me to "jump with my back". I have very weak lats and am doing pushups every night with my elbows right beside my body, pointed back, instead of pointing outward. The lowering down builds more lat strength than the pushing up part. If I don't actively push my scapulae down when I jump (or do anything else for that matter), my shoulders will raise. For now, I actually do have to "force" them down. It's just important to do this from the lats in your back, and to not tense your neck muscles and the muscles on top of your shoulders.


It's very important to jump DOWN, instead of UP. It's a natural extension of the feeling of down you should have in releve.

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Ok ladies, time to leave the Men's room.


Getting a Pilates video would help alot. or taking a few classes to learn the correct procedures.



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  • 2 weeks later...


Sounds like lat pulldowns would help!

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