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Ballet Talk for Dancers

strengthening from jumps, getting more height


Guest mic31

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Deeper plies = higher jumps.

 

Stretching your calves before class, and seeing how low you can go in Demi-Plie helps as well.

 

Good calf stretches:

 

Hanging your heels off a step, facing towards the steps gently let your heels go down below your toes and ###### of feet.

 

Yoga position (Dog?) Hands and feet on the floor, bend at waist like an upside down "V" Feel the stretch in your calves.

 

I love VBC, gorgeous city, great seafood and beer!

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I've been struggling with this too, and my teacher suggested three things

to think about -- they're all really basic, but keeping them in mind has helped

me:

 

1) MJ's point exactly: deeper plie --> higher jump

 

2) My instructor suggested that on changement and assemble that

I could work on really straightening my legs while in the air. What I found

looking in the mirror was that keeping this in mind actually helped

me leap higher, or appear to be leaping higher I think it helped me

get more of the "usable energy" out of the plie... either that or it is just

the power of suggestion... but hey, I need all the power I can get :angry:

 

3) Really simple thing that beginner me was missing sometimes: I was

often doing a very linear sequences (like glissade assemble) in fragments,

instead of really using the first step as a preparation for a larger

second one. Do you know what I mean? I think my mind was saying

"do this step, finish it, good! now next step" instead of letting the first

step be a transition to the second, and letting it flow, to build energy

for the second. When I started thinking of things that way I found myself

leaping higher.

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And then, of course, there is the simple answer, jump more!

 

I had a teacher once who ended EVERY class with 64 changment, no music, we were exhorted to jump as high as we could. When muscles are already tired, that is when they build the most strength. After all, pain is merely weakness leaving the body ;-)!

 

S.

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But pain can also be a sign of damage, and of building weird-looking tight, binding muscles.

 

OK, time for a tired old metaphor. The spring. (Not the time of year, like a bedspring!) You aren't going to get the most benefit out of having a spring in something if it's not allowed to make full travel. If the spring still has potential energy in it, it's not doing the most good it can do. The spring has to be well-seated on its base; that means that you have to have all of your foot on the floor. The spring has to be properly compressed, so a good deep demi-plié is imperative. If you hold back from going down into the plié, then you're not going to make full travel through all of it. When you start the jump, and you straighten the legs (completely), then you have to continue the push against the floor with the whole foot, all along its length, from the heel down to the very tips of the toes. Landing is just the reverse, and provides you with momentum to do the next step, whatever it may be.

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This is what's been drilled into my head, but your mileage (and height) may vary!

 

1. Really working tendus, degages, frappes, grande battements into the floor using the whole foot as long as possible on the going-out motion all help increase the height of various jumps.

 

2. For some steps, it's tempting to jump out horizontally instead of up, like tour jetes, or saut de basques. Thinking about jumping up instead of out seems to help.

 

3. The arms help a lot (up to 25 percent greater height in some cases according to Kenneth Laws), but only if they're coordinated with the jump.

 

4. As previously mentioned, linking steps helps a lot. Often a big jump is preceded by a glissade. Think of the second leg that comes in along with the ending plie at the end of the glissade as the beginning of your next jump, and use the momentum to really push the next jump up.

 

5. Think about floating up in your jump. This sounds silly, but no one can tell what you're thinking, right? :angry:

 

From a physics standpoint, making sure your legs are straight as can be, and your feet pointed makes sense for increasing jump height, since if your legs are not straight when you're in the air, they probably weren't straight when you left the ground. This means that the force you were exerting on the floor wasn't applied to the floor for as long as possible, and so you aren't getting the maximum push off the floor.

 

That's all I can think of for now. Hope this was helpful!

 

--Andre

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wow certainly lots to think about. I am working hard on this so I'll try all of this advice. thanks guys.

 

And your right by the way, Vancouver is the best place on the planet, for a huge city anyway

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Jumping in ballet really has two facets. One is technical, i.e., the technique that is used in jumping that gives a ballet jump its look. The second is physical, i.e., the raw ability to just plain jump high.

 

Let me talk just a little about the second facet. How high one can jump is determined by a number of factors, but predominantly by the number of fast twitch muscle fibers you have. Size is also something of a factor. Shorter people tend to jump higher in relation to their height, while taller people tend to jump higher in absolute terms.

 

Improving one’s raw ability to jump is extremely difficult. It takes quite a lot of specific training to obtain even minimal improvement. Jumping and sprinting are very much alike in that sense. The problem from the ballet perspective is that investing the time, effort, and energy into doing the work to improve your raw jumping ability is time, effort, and energy that you could be putting into ballet and developing the technical skills associated with jumping.

 

I have watched professional dancers who seem to be able to jump very high. An interesting way to watch is to isolate the person’s head. When you do that, you find that dancers really don’t jump as high as it appears they do. And that is where all the technical factors come into play. The technical factors, when performed well, give the appearance of ease and flight that at first glance seems to be tremendous raw jumping ability.

 

From my perspective all of this means that the dancer is best off by essentially forgetting raw jumping ability and concentrating on doing allegro with good technique and letting it go at that. Besides, all of allegro jumps will help improve your raw jumping ability anyway, if only a very little. It’s appearance that is everything.

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