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Trouble with Passe/retire


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hello all,

For years my retire has been low. Putting my toe actually TO my knee cap seems like a feat I'll never manage. :dry: It's really starting to bother me because I'm now taking like 6 classes a week and stretching at home and I can barely reach to 2 inches below my knee cap.

Weird thing is, when I lie on my back on the floor I can bring it up to my knee, and when I lie on my side with my passe knee facing the ceiling I can also draw my foot up to my knee (even PAST my knee).

Can anyone give me any tips for when I'm standing up?

I sometimes feel a pain in my left hip when I attempt retire/passe. My right hip does not hurt, but it feels as if there is an invisible barrier preventing me from doing this correctly. My teachers are always yelling at me "Higher passe, Higher passe!" I would like to take their correction, but my hips don't cooperate.

What should I do? :)

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There could be several reasons for this... The first that came to my mind was a smaller lower leg than the upper leg, meaning that no matter how you try, your foot would always end up lower, as your upper leg makes the angle wider... but then you said that you're able to do it lying on your back..


Have you tried to lift the knee up in retiré, as opposed to thinking the toe is touching the knee cap? In fact, a correct retiré position would be to the side of the knee but just under the protruding part (in the nook of the knee)... same thing in pirouette position (to the front of the knee), it's just under the knee cap, not really ON it.


To train and have a feeling for it and know you're getting there, rather than lazyly put it too low (I'm not suggesting you are doing it on purpose... When I say 'lazy' I mean you may not yet be aware you're doing it wrong which should be addressed, but maybe it's a structural issue and if that's the case, then remedying it may take longer, or may not be possible at all), I would therefore make sure in developpé, that the knee goes first (high, then develop the lower leg) and when you come back to retiré, really squeeze the lower leg (almost like you would want to put your foot in your crotch, rather than at the knee!) :)


I would also suggest you talk to your teacher, as she may not be aware the movement itself is uncomfortable, so to make sure she gives you the best advice, you've got to let her know it's not just something you 'forget', but it's something you truly have difficulty with... For eg, when she gives you the correction one more time to LIFT the retiré, finish the exercise, and at the end, raise your hand and explain that her correction makes sense, that you can see in the mirror that your foot is low, but that physically, you find it difficult and painful to do. At least that will give her a clue that you heard her correction, and are asking for help. :dry:

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And also, you are receiving a practical demonstration of the effects of gravity on flexibility and strength. When lying on your back or on your side, gravity affects your legs differently from the way it does when you're standing upright.


It sounds as if you may be being bound by soft tissues at the hip, as ligaments and tendons. OK, they're soft tissues, but especially with ligaments, they are so strong that some bones may break before this "soft tissue" lets go!

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gerlonda, I have the exact same problem. In fact, I was just talking to my teacher about it yesterday when I was practicing my passe retires. She asked me to bring my leg closer to the knee and I just could not do it any farther than about an inch below. One other problem I have is that it is difficult for me to place my foot to the side of my knee at all and when I move to go behind my leg I have to sort of lift my hip and pull my foot away from my supporting leg, then place it behind and move it down. In my understanding that is incorrect and the tip of my toe should move smoothly up the leg to the side and then down the back. Any hints on how to improve this or is it that my hips are just not ideal for that kind of movement?



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We all have some physical limitations, especially if no longer young, and unfortunately some of these things are just not going to change in adult students. If your hips do not have the flexibility and rotation to allow you to reach a full retiré position, then so be it. Forcing the hips is not a good idea. Do the best you can, and of course keep trying to improve, as there can certainly be some improvement over time, however, do not expect things that your body strongly objects to, to suddenly just happen. :o I can no longer do all sorts of things that I used to do with great ease, and while I still fight it a bit, have to learn that I just can't do that anymore and deal with it. :blink: It's frustrating, but, that's the way it is.

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This may be far fetched, so ignore it if it seems wrong, but the twinge in hip during retire sounded familiar to me.


I experienced twinges in the hip for a while when doing beginning pointe work (specifically piques to retire) and they were caused by leaning back - which put hip flexors in a terrible position to work in so they'd cramp. Smart, eh? :blink: Paying attention to placement fixed it quickly and completely.



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Thank you all for responded so quickly.

In class yesterday, I found that if I mentally focus moreso on increasing the height of my knee/femur, it is a little easier to get my toes in the correct position. I guess it's just something that I have to be very conscious about during class and when exercising on my own.

The next challenge is to stop the sickling of my stupid foot while in retire! :) But, again, if my leg is higher, I believe that my foot will have more "room" so it won't sickle- if I concentrate on the height of my femur then I won't have to chance to "prop" my foot on my knee (which usually causes it to sickle).


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Guest BalletBrat

Just a thought, try a parellel retire position, then turn it out. I find this helpful in discovering the feeling of supporting the thigh from underneath and not lifting the working hip.

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I, too, was wondering if you're lifting the working hip. My right hip is placed in a really funny position (back and tilted forward) and it's really difficult to stand on correctly. My retire with the left leg loses contact with my standing leg often in my left pirouettes because I'm not really shifted onto the right leg. It's a frustrating problem, and it's often anatomical (it is in my case at least) It takes a lot of concentration and a good understanding of your own bone structure to fix to the point where it's not a major issue. Sometimes, I have to feel like I'm shoving the entire right side of my hip forward to be in the correct position.

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