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Ballet Talk for Dancers

pesky bent knee


amatol

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I'm not sure what the term was my teacher used... crawling? Anyway I am having a hard time keeping my knee straight when stepping out en pointe. I do ok if it is just releve in a standing position but if it is stepping up on pointe (especially in a combination) I can't seem to convince my leg it should be straight, I don't do this off pointe so not quite sure why I am and what to do to stop doing it... if anyone has a visual or anything to recommend it would be very much appreciated!

 

and on a similiar subject I can't get my leg straight for pirouttes either :clapping:

 

sorry if none of this is clear, terminology is definately not my forte.

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If you're stepping onto a pointed foot, that's a piqué movement. Since you're also having trouble with straight legs in pirouettes, it's probably nerves. You don't honestly believe that you belong up there, so you relax your knee so that you're not so far up there. It's a mind over matter thing. You won't get over it unless you convince yourself that you have every right to be standing on one foot on pointe. Extend your leg fully, already pointed, in movements piqué, and don't sink down on your hips or knee when you step out. Ditto for relevés. Relevé all the way up there, and don't slump. Remember, a relevé starts down below floor level and doesn't end with the top of your head. The liftedness shoots straight up, like a fountain.

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The trick that I have used to make my students keep their legs straight for piqués is to tape a piece of masking tape lengthwise down the back of their knees. As soon as the knee bends, they can feel the tape crinkle and will be reminded to straighten the leg. Since you are already aware that you are bending your knees, this might not be the trick to solve your problem, but then again, it just might! :huepfen: At the very least, it could let you know the exact instant where you bend your knee, and you can try to concentrate on fixing that. :clapping:

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Thank you for the suggestions! the tape thing might just work... I mainly know my knee is bent because my teacher points it out. The not sinking into my hips is also a good reminder... I think I am, will pay attention next class. I can usually do just straight pique steps if I really concentrate but the second something else is thrown into the works (even something simple like balance) it all goes downhill. Releves on one foot I actually like and think I do well at, it's more reflexive of a motion for me, though I am still working on strength after a few in a row my leg starts to kind of wobble even if I am at the bar. oh yeah and nerves I'm sure is part of it, especially in the turns.

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I call this the fear factor of pointe, and I have a terrible time with it. I am very fortunate my teacher is very understanding. She mentioned that pointe work requires a full commitment to every movement. The biggest thing is to shift your weight completely over the foot and keep everything in a straight line. I asked her one night after class if there is a huge difference between teaching the pre-teens beginning pointe work and adults, especially in the fear department. She said oh, yes, the younger students are not so timid about fully commiting to the movement, but at least the adults don't spend so much time admiring their feet in the mirror! I asked her about this and she said when the younger students start pointe classes they spend too much time looking in the mirror to admire their feet! :D But back to the bent knee, if you picture a straight line from your toes on the floor all the way up and out of the top of your head, I think it will help to keep everything up and straight.

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You are so right Mel! Sometimes the only reason why I can't do a step is because I don't believe I belong up there, not to mention the my brain lacks oxygen at that altitude!!!

 

I am also one of those people that can't quite look in the mirror while dancing because when i do something right, I get so distracted that I forget the next step in the combination...hahahaha

 

I did arabesque turn one day and surprised myself so much that i bailed out AFTER I had finished the turn. Another time, I did a slow motion attitude turn.

 

 

If you're stepping onto a pointed foot, that's a piqué movement.  Since you're also having trouble with straight legs in pirouettes, it's probably nerves.  You don't honestly believe that you belong up there, so you relax your knee so that you're not so far up there.  It's a mind over matter thing.  You won't get over it unless you convince yourself that you have every right to be standing on one foot on pointe.  Extend your leg fully, already pointed, in movements piqué, and don't sink down on your hips or knee when you step out.  Ditto for relevés.  Relevé all the way up there, and don't slump.  Remember, a relevé starts down below floor level and doesn't end with the top of your head.  The liftedness shoots straight up, like a fountain.

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I am also one of those people that can't quite look in the mirror while dancing because when i do something right, I get so distracted that I forget the next step in the combination...hahahaha

 

Hi Duckie:

I sometimes blow long combinations when I finally get "a difficult part in the middle." I get such a thrill I have an inadvertent moment of celebration that throws whatever is left to do. It is distracting!

About that pique thing. It always feels "higher" in some psychological way than a simple releve and I can see how it would cause a bit of panic stricken bent knees. I never had that panic on a pirouette though...as long it was a left standing leg one.....

Laschwen

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class Monday was a bit hit and miss as I was feeling pretty stiff (that's what I get for missing class on Saturday) however I did managed to pretty much keep my legs straights during pique arabesque. Thanks for the suggestions!

Pirouttes however I am still flopping at... I finally got the leg straight but far to late into the turn. I do better doing them en dedans for some reason... unfortunately our teacher usually has us do them en dehors.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the same problem and what worked for me is stretching the backs of the knees a lot so they know they're supposed to be straight.

 

And visualizing sticking a stake into the ground before getting on top - like pole vaulting.

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