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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Should she straighten leg or not?


sme219

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Once again, my daughter has been told that she should not straighten her leg all off the way. I believe she has hyper-extended knees (or legs?) and was once told by a temporary instructor that she should not straighten her legs all of the way. She had doubts about this advice and had asked another instructor and was told that if she did not she would develop some very unattractive muscles. So she never went along with it. She is very flexible and very strong, I don't know if that will help in your answer. Now she is being told (different instructor) that she should not straighten her leg all off the way, but she should pull her knee cap up. Okay, I don't have a clue what that means, she may, but not me. She is leaning to not wanting to do this as she seems to trust the instructor who told her not to before. What is she to do? She has been told many times that she has absolutely beautiful legs, so there isn't anything really freaky looking about them. She just wants to be the best she can and doesn't know who to go along with. Any ideas? I did try a search on this, but I didn't come up with anything. That might just be my own fault. Also, I am hoping this is the correct place to ask this. She is eleven years old, but at a very advanced level.

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Answering as a parent, our daughter also has hyperextension. She has been trained to pull up the knee and not feel like she is completely straightening her leg, it looks straight. She was trained to control the hyperextension so that she would not develop knee problems and alignment issues. A little hyperextension in the working leg looks lovely, but from what we have been told can be dangerous in the supporting leg.

 

I think I read that your daughter is at NBS, we have first hand experience with this school. Daughter attended 4 summers and also full time for approx. 2 years. This school has an outstanding body conditioning program and full time physio departments. Students are monitored and so is the training program to ensure correct muscle development and balance. The AD of NBS, Mavis Staines is very involved at a world wide level to improve the overall development of healthy dancers. If you get a chance you should do a search for a book "Not just any body".

 

Hopefully Ms. Leigh and Major Mel will chime in now with a correct technical explanation.

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Hyperextension can be very beautiful....in a working leg :( In a standing leg, it can be a problem. The student needs to learn to straighten, but not LOCK back the knees. She needs to use the quad muscles, as well as be very correctly aligned and placed in terms of weight placement. It is tricky to control with younger dancers, but once they "get it", it usually works pretty well. The legs have to be straight to be strong, however, with hyperextension, if they "give in" to it and push back (usually caused by the pelvic alignment being incorrect and the weight too far back), they will over-straighten. This is what is dangerous, as then they are not strong.

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Ms. Leigh,

 

This is a wonderful explanation. Thanks! My daughter is hyper-extended. She is strong, and I think getting good instruction about this. But your explanation certainly makes it much more clear for me.

 

mc

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for clearing this up for me. When she told me that this was brought up again and she wasn't sure who to trust, I told her to trust the people where she is at now because they have to know what they're talking about. I think when she was originally told not to straighten her leg it wasn't explained well enough to her. Hopefully she has had a better explanation this time around. It always amazes me when I think about all of the little things that are going on in a dancer's head at once. I used to just see the beauty of it all, now I am also in awe of everything that they are really putting into it and I am sure that I only know the tip of the ice berg of what is really going on. Wow!

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