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Ballet Talk for Dancers

hyperextended!!


cassy

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I have read some threads about hyperextended knees. Im pretty sure mine are hyperextended. I have always felt something was different as when i stand straight, my knees lock or feel like they are locking backwards. My leg never seems to look perfectly straight and when i stand in first position, my calf muscles touch - so i work with a small gap. :)

 

Anyway - my question is - should or could hyperextended knees be corrected? If so how? :wink:

Cassy

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Hello Cassy!

 

You've opened the proverbial can'o'worms!!

 

The reason I say that is because there are many differing opinions on how hyperextension should be handled.

 

Think about it this way: Picture building blocks. Make a tower with all 10 of the blocks lined up perfectly, and you have a tower strong enough to support extra weight.

 

Now build the tower with blocks # 3 & 4 (from the floor) slightly off kilter. Put extra weight atop the tower, and think about what might happen. Now picture that blocks # 3 & 4 are your knee joints, with the little fluid sacs in between them.

 

So, I am of the school of thought that one must learn how to use one's knees in a weight-bearing position, in an absolutely straight line; not hyperextended. However, when the leg is in the air in a non-weight bearing position, it can create a beautiful line. But one must be very strong in order to know and feel the difference. What does your teacher say about it?

 

Clara 76 :yucky:

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  • Administrators

This is not an SI question, so moving the topic to Adult Ballet Students.

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Clara 76 is right. Your teacher needs to work with you on this. Personally, I have gotten the best results from a teacher who has hyperextended knees himself. Your entire center of gravity is a little bit different from other people and you need to have someone help you with your weight distribution. It can make things like arabesque penchee a bit more difficult until you learn where you need to place yourself. Probably a little more forward than what will feel comfortable initially. Hyperextended knees are very beautiful for ballet and you don't want to correct them per se, but you do need some additional guidance on how to work with them safely.

 

I've also found that it's really important to have a strong control over your rotation and hip placement, so the knees can't lock back, yet you can still feel them straight. Without the turnout, it's almost impossible to find "straight". You end up with bent knees all the time which isn't really desireable either.

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Just an aside—

 

Many (most, perhaps, as I’ve not counted) professional dancers have hyperextended knees. I notice it most often when they stand in first position. Heels don’t touch and the legs are in contact with each other from about mid-calf up. Sometimes I wonder if it is a job requirement.

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Some directors are head-over-heels for hyperextended dancers. It is a potential indicator, although not a guarantee, of stability in adagio and good balance, as well as a good line.

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I also have hyperextended legs. I must admit I think that they present a much more attractive line in ballet. When I did the Suzanne Farrell audition she explained to us her opinions on if the heels should have a gap between them in first position if you have hyperextended legs. She said "No they should not have a gap between them otherwise every dancer in this world would have a different first position" I totally agree with her on this topic. Plus, it is better for your knees to have it in a straighter line. When ever I lift my leg off the ground I gladly straigthten it that extra bit to give that hyperextended look that so many companies love. Since the point of corps de ballet is to look alike I would try my hardest to get my heels together in first or atleast be aware of who I am auditioning for during auditions because some directors do like certain things. Luckily my teacher doesn't have a strong opinion on hyperextension becasuse I don't think she's very well educated in that arena, but for those of you who have teachers with hyperextension see what works best for them. Good Luck!

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spaghetti, I appreciate your apology for posting on the Adult forum, and I deleted your message of apology, as you requested. I did not delete the above post, because I wanted to respond to it. :blushing:

 

First question: How often does one stand in first position on stage?

Second question: If everyone's legs are different, what makes you think they can all make exactly the same position?

Third question: If one's legs are severely hyperextended, when the heels are together one leg is bent. Is that better than having a small space and both legs straight? Note: I said SMALL space. The smaller the better, because if it is too big it pushes the legs INTO the hyperextension.

 

I happen to be a teacher with a LOT of hyperextension. (It is no longer so visible, as I had several knee surgeries, and now they are not even very straight. :dry: But, as a dancer, and throughout a great many teaching years, that hyperextension was very definitely there.) I learned how to work with and control my own hyperextension, and I learned how to teach students who have it. Every teacher should know how to handle it, even if they do not have it themselves.

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Thank you for responding Ms. Leigh. I am aware that everybodies legs are different, and I do not think that a small space is a problem. I go to a small studio and yes, I do agree that it is important for every teacher to have a wide range of knowledge on different body types. I hope to be a teacher someday, and this website is teaching me a lot. I guess I didn't think the "first position" theory thuroughly through. The way Suzanne Farrell said convinced me, but then again you convinced me by saying "How often does one stand in first position on stage?" Now I agree with you. I should probably do a bit more research on a topic before taking sides. :dry: I wish I could have you as a teacher!

 

Thanks!

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spaghetti, there are different theories on this, and mine is just one of them. I believe it is right, but then I'm sure that other teachers believe in their way too. In the end, hopefully we all just train good dancers! :dry:

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thanks for all your kind advice,

my teacher is wonderful, i really trust her advice and she corrects me often enough :angry:

i had read some of the other threads regarding hyperextension and was still unsure if this was a good thing or not! :blushing:

i have always felt that there was something different about the way my knees feel as though they are never straight and if i try to stand straight then one or both bend!

It was only through ballet talk that i have become more educated on this topic and recongised that i am not weird or imagining it at all :)

when spring term starts in april i am going to make time either before or after class to ask my teachers advice on how im doing - or how i can improve?

thanks again,

cassy

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cassy--I re-read your first post. Are you not sure whether or not they're hyperextended? It's actually easy to tell--and has nothing to do with how they feel. When you're standing--in a balletic or non-balletic pose, do your knees sway back? Hyperextension is just a fancy word for sway back knees. They "straighten" too much.

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hi lampwick,

sorry i have probably confused you! :)

im almost certain they are hyperextended - when i stand in a non balletic pose, my knees lock backwards and my legs do not look straight, the calf muscle curves backwards if that makes sense! :D

so my thigh is straight to my knee, my knee feels and looks as though it is set further back and my calf is not in line with the thigh - does that help?

i have always noticed this growing up and thought it was abnormal, when i read the other posts it registered with me because its how my legs look and feel.

cassy

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