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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help with Proper Alignment

Guest amdewitt

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Guest amdewitt

I currently take ballet in two schools, and one correction (which is so important) that is being pounded in my head by both teachers is PROPER ALIGNMENT/PLACEMENT. They tell me to pull up my abs, but not my ribcage, shoulders back and to stick in my tailbone. I realize that this is SOO important, particularly when trying to balance en releve, and I try to do this and have noticed a difference. BUT, how on earth do I maintain this all the time? Will it get easier with practice? Will I just have to continually remind myself to do this and eventually it will become second nature?


One instructor suggested that I supplement my ballet classes with a pilates class to help. It seems that I would probably need to practice this ALL the time (like during the course of a normal day) in order to get it right.


Any other suggestions?

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Hi Atti2de


Yes it will become easier the more you do it correctly. Just imagine though for a minute, I am not sure how old you are or whether you have had ballet training when you were growing up or not,but if you have not, then your body will have its little ways of doing things. The way you walk, run, sit, chop onions, brush your teeth, all of this will be imprinted in your muscles and it gets difficult to change the way you do these simple things. Yet it is these simple things that shape how we poistion ourselves, or how our bodies are aligned. Yes its true, the way you stand to chop up an onion can have profound effects on your posture, likewise ironing, and brushing teeth all of these things that you and I do everyday contain bad habits for our bodies. So correcting your posture and alignment by doing ballet is great, but it will take time to get out of the bad habits. Slouching for example doesn't help. Are you sitting up straight when you are reading this, are your stomach muscles strong enough to keep you sitting upright without any effort. So yes you can correct yourself over time. It won't take weeks or months, it may take a good few years,but the benefits will be enormous. Of course you improve slowly and you will notice little by little. But patience is a virtue and practicing correctly will be a bonus. When I was learning ballet I probably never really listened to my teacher or understood what she meant when she was talking about pulling up, or using turnout. It would have made my life a lot easier now. Even now I am trying to correct things that I should have corrected a long time ago.

Yes you will have to constantly remind yourself, but don't get upset if you forget one thing or forget to remind yourself confused.gif When I do ballet I am always saying, pull this up, tuck this in, turn out more, keep upper back straight, keep shoulders down, the list goes on and on. even when doing a combination, I'm saying 'are my arms too far back? are my feet pointed? am I using demi plie? am I closing in good fifths?' I don;t think anyone who does ballet actually stops reminding themselves about one thing or another. Of course I don't know what professional dancers think, so I can't speak for them.


Pilates is a great way of achieving results a lot faster as is the Alexandra technique. And as for practicing all the time, well as I said just changing the way you sit can make a lot of difference. You need to start to look at your body and the way you do things in a different way.


The bit about pulling up your abs but not your ribcage took me a while. Basically you should pull in you tummy muscles but not so that your ribs can be seen, if that makes any sense? you need a mirror and it takes a few goes but once you get it, its great. T least this is what my teacher told me.

Yoga is also another good exercise both for the mind and body. It will help you with your balances and show you where you need to work bodywise.


Sorry to babble on, just tell me off for speaking a load of rubbish if it is, but its my opinion on the facts I have been presented with so far in my life, so feel free to tell me anything incorrect because now I can do something about it.


Jeanette xx


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On the first night of the Richmond Adult Ballet Intensive, they did a class in posture and alignment. They hung a string with a weight at the end from the ceiling. We took turns with a partner standing next to the string, standing in relevee, attitude, passes, etc. The partner carefully tracked how we each changed our alignment in each position. The string was used to make sure we were properly aligned and showed us where we need improvement (I'd do sooooo much better if my head didn't dip forward so much). This was a great tool to analyze your posture.


Also, remember to push down into the floor with the lower half of the body, and lift up the upper half like someone is pulling up on a rope through the top of your head.


There are tons of books and papers that cover this, but I learn from doing. That piece of string with a weight on the end did more for me than any book ever did.

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Guest amdewitt

Jeanette & 2leftfeet,


Thank you both so much for the insight and suggestions. I'm 32, and I've taken some ballet before, but had not gone very far with it, so the alignment stuff is very new to me. I try not to slouch most of the time, but I know that I'm not even close to holding proper alignment in the way that I need to for ballet.


It's so good to know that I'm not the only one who suffers from those evil voices in my head telling me, "stay turned out, point your toes, keep your neck long, elbows up, rounded arms, tail tucked in", LOL. It's a lot to remember, and now I have to remember to pull up and down! Those opposing forces with alignment and turn out are not easy! But, I guess if it were, we wouldn't love it so much. smile.gif


Oh, and BTW, it's not rubbish! I soooo appreciate your help and suggestions! I couldn't wait to log on again to hear what you had to say!

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You could try making a checklist of all the things you need to remember about alignment. In one of my classes the teacher runs through a sort of checklist as we are standing at the barre before plies. (she says things like; legs turned out from the hips, shoulders aligned over hips, no weight on the heels etc) As she speaks, I can feel my body adjusting itself into a more ideal posture. In my other classes I try and think of this list even though the teacher doesn't say it, then hopefully it will become second nature and I won't have to make any adjustments!

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You are definitely not alone when it comes to those little voices. There are so many things to think about just to keep proper alignment, who has time to think about a proper glissade? It does get better the longer you do it, though.


I try to focus on a few of the things you need to think about. Like yesterday, doing grand plies at the barre, I was really focusing on pulling up with my upper body as I melted into the plie while pushing my knees out over my feet.


As luck would have it my teacher notices other things I'm doing wrong!! It's always something but it does get easier.

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Guest amdewitt

2 Left Feet,


That is a great idea. For now, I will focus on the alignment and placement. As a matter of fact, I've learned that my job offers an 8-wk pilates course during the day, so I can do that for an hour once a week to supplement my classes. Hopefully, that will help.


But I know what you mean about how those corrections keep coming! (I'm glad though, because I want to do it the right way) It's like one night we were working on grand battements, and I know I was pointing my toes and staying turned out, and had a pretty high one at that! So, what does the teacher tell me? Round your arms, elbows up! :/ But, that's okay. It will take time, and I will trust that it will get easier.

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