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Correct Hip Placement


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:angry: I am submitting this on behalf of my 12 1/2 year old dance daughter. By :) way of back ground let me describe her as a serious ballet student with big dreams. She has for the past few years had very good casting in children's rolls of our local major ballet company's Nutcracker productions and has attended 2 serious SI's. My daughter has beautiful natural aristry but seems to be VERY confused about what proper hip placement should be in movements that involve high extensions of the leg. At her dance school, one ballet teacher is very firm that hips should be absolutely "square" at all times. The other ballet teacher(at the same school) wants the leg extended as high as possible even if it means the hips are not square. Most of the other students have adapted and used different hip placement for each teacher. Because of her SI experience my daughter is telling me that the teacher that wants hips square all the time is correct & anything else is incorrect. Another student told her that the pratice of lifting the hip to get the leg as high as possible is a SAB technique & that is why the other teacher is teaching it! Except for this issue we really like her present dance school & prefer not to switch. I know nothing about ballet, except writing the checks however I have told her that different directors have different ideas of ballet style & she needs to pull out of her bag of ballet knowledge whatever they request. My daughter & I would appreciated "expert" advise on this hip placement style or technique! Thanks in advance for any insight or help!
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NutsaboutBallet, I have moved this to Ballet Moms and Dads because adults are not allowed to post on the Young Dancers' forums. However, you will receive response from teachers here too.


The hip placement for front and side extensions should remain square. For back extensions the working hip will need to open in order to allow rotation, but the body weight also moves forward and upward for these positions. Lifting the hip in front extensions causes the leg to turn in, :angry: , and lifting it for side extensions just creates distortion of the body and an incorrect line.

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I am going to elaborate on what Victoria is saying because I completely agree with her. What she is referring to is almost a spiral energy that happens when the legs lift to the back in both attitude and arabesque. The hip must be allowed to open with the ribs remaining square and lifted, with the energy directed both upward and outward along all planes. Also energy must be directed into the supporting leg.


If the hips remain square when the leg is attempting to lift in derriere, the spine becomes torqued and strained with the lower back area overarching and pushing forward into the pelvic region. Not good for the body.


To devant and seconde, the hips should remain square.


It is true that students do have to acquiesce to the teacer's requirements. Choreographers will make many demands on their dancers as well, although I've not yet seen any choreographer that our company works with demand a perfectly square hip in derriere.


Hope that helps...

Clara 76

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DD was taught at her previous school to get the legs up. At her current school, she has had to go back to basics and learn how to extend keeping her hips square. This cost her a lot of her extension height. It is slowly improving. She is now above 90 degrees with a beautifully turned out leg. :bouncing: Her teachers have had to do this with several dancers that have come from other schools. (mostly the competitive schools :thumbsup: )

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I would just like to clarify that open is different than up.


Open in arabesque is good, up is bad. :thumbsup:

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My DD had the same experience when she moved to a new school. She had to work very hard to correct hip placement, and now she has finally recovered her extension.


Is the teacher who stresses extension and does not correct hip placement, or allows students to grip/lean on the bar as leverage to gain leg height working technique from another angle, or is that teacher just not correcting technique properly?


The reason I ask, is that we are also still at the old school where extension and strength are valued at the expense of a square body placement. DD has to monitor herself when taking class at this school to make sure she is placed properly.



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Teachers correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that it is not correct technique training period. I never noticed the difference until I saw it compared. DD has shown me the difference with her hip up and an extension to the side. I had to admit, the height was WOW! Then she showed me the correct position, with her hips square and her leg turned out. Granted, the leg was not near the height before, but what an amazing line. The leg is turned out, the foot is turned out and there is a beautiful line from hip to toes. Who cares if it isn't next to her ear. Her teacher has said she is extremely flexible and that the extension height will come with strength. The proper placement of the hip is first and foremost the most important.

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Nothing to correct, Redstorm. :thumbsup: Extension without line and rotation is useless except for Cirque du Soleil. :bouncing:

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Using the kitchen counter as a barre, my dd will do grand battements and ask me on each one - do my hips look square? She knows that she can get terrific extension without them square - but has seen that over the past couple of years her extension has increased at a consistent pace with squared hips.


Her studio is very insistent on hips being squared and open.

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My DD is very concerned over this whole thing as well. She is one of the younger ones in her level. Some of the older girls develope is much higher than hers. We also have a gynnast in her class who is a rubberband. DD often complains to me that she'll never get her leg higher. I do see her using that hip sometimes to try and get her leg higher. I've tried to explain that it's not how high she gets it but rather keeping it placed correctly. I'm hopeing with time/age/maturity that she will realize this on her own. She stretches at home but only seems to make baby steps and is frustrated-especially when the gymnast can kick her leg up to her ear. But I have also heard her teacher say that the muscle will develop in time to bring the leg higher and correct the hips being square.

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There's more involved here than just seeing how high you can get your leg. Training should carry through so that what you do in tendue carries over to degage to extension to releve to saute. If you lift your hip to get your leg up, imagine what will happen when you are landing from a big jump because you have trained your body to work out of alignment so that when you land that big jump you are no longer accessing strength in the proper place to support that landing. Or wonder why those pirouettes aren't working? Maybe it's because you are working misplaced. Something to think about. Ballet is not a series of individual positions. One position (concept) builds on another so that if your base positions are askew, you will run into problems somewhere down the line.

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Thank oyoy....excellent explanation of the importance of correct alignment! :D

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Along these same lines, are there two schools of thought about the amount that the hip should be open in first arabesque? In the reviewing of the ever-popular audition photos :D, my daughter's teacher would often say that the hip was too open. It was still square, but the hip was open so that the position was more like a center split would be, often allowing a higher extension. Others have said that this is perfectly fine, as long as the hips remain square and the leg is properly turned out. :)

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It is important to note that when the leg lifts in derriere position, the hip should be 'allowed' to open in order to accomodate the movement. It's not necessarily a "position" with a % degree of openess. It should NOT be forced.


It will be different on different bodies, due to their anatomy.

When humans walk, the hips natually open and release as the legs move. It is on this principle that ballet has adopted the position in arabesque/attitude derriere.


It is possible that the students you are referring to have lifted their hip/s in order to achieve height in arabesque. That is very wrong.


It is also possible that those students opened their ribcage as well, and didn't use/ weren't taught the opposing action that is required. Thus, when the teachers referred to the photograph as being too open, they were also *seeing* the entire position and not just the hips.


And yes, there are 2 schools of thought. When I was studying ballet as a child, I was taught by my teacher to square off my hips to the front, so that if my hips were headlights, they'd be shining on the wall I was facing.


As ballet has evolved and our understanding of body mechanics has developed, we've moved forward from that idea.


Hope that helps!

Clara 76 :)

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It's not necessarily a "position" with a % degree of openess. It should NOT be forced.


It will be different on different bodies, due to their anatomy.


Just to expand...


Someone with a limited turn out (not inner rotation, but how far the leg will carry side), will have to open more than someone with who can lie in a straddle. It has to do with how the hips are formed. Length of torso comes into play as well.


When I teach I find that the younger students bodies naturally know how much to open that hip. Most my corrections for arabesque regard keeping the rib cage forward, until they get older and try to force the height of the arabesque. Then they will try to tip, twist, and lift anything and everything.


One thing I watch as an indicator of opening too much is if the standing knee is starting to torque and losing its own turn out.

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