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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pushing down to pull-up


hart

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I just recently started taking an intermediate class that is way too advanced for me, but ironically, I find myself learning a great deal about the fundamentals in that class. The teacher is one of those teachers that doesn't just say "turn out!" or "pull up!" but actually explains how to turn out and how to pull up. I love this class.

 

She was recently talking about how you need to push your supporting hip bone down when stepping into a pique arabesque or what not. After just doing what she said a couple of times and applying it to turns, I was doing strong double pirouettes with my supporting knee straight, with a higher demi-pointe, and I felt myself going straight up instead of going off my axis. I also felt a great deal more pulled up in my hips. So if you push down to pull-up, what exactly does "pulled up" mean? I mean, I get the physics of pushing down. I just would like to know in very practical terms, what pulling up means. It seems like one of those concepts that are talked about a lot but not often explained in functional terms. I wonder if there are helpful metaphors or imagery people have used to think about pulling up.

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My teacher describes pulling up as, literally, pulling up, however as your teacher has taught you, the counterpull helps you to find that pull upwards. Pulling up keeps you from dropping your weight into the floor and it helps your alignment in your hips. However, each of the different pulls in your body feels different to you as an individual, so the words pulling up literally means to find the pull and counterpull that enable you to acheive proper turn out and alignment.

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Hart, I moved this topic, as it is not about pointe shoes, but about technique. :)

 

To create a center there needs to be an equal and opposite pull in all directions. Therefore, pushing down to go up is a valid idea...BUT....NOT pushing down in the hip joint! That is the last thing you want to do. :o The downward push is into the floor with the supporting foot, like the roots of a tree. The roots push down and the tree grows up. :wink: So, the term "pull up" doesn't really work either, as one needs to know how to get up by using the opposition forces to push down. However, one must ALWAYS be lifted up OUT OF the HIP JOINT! You have to use the muscles of the gluteus maximus and the top of the thigh to do that, as well as the abs and all the back muscles, and the full weight of the body moving forward and upward.

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If you think of reaching out and pushing down with the thighbone at the same time you are lifting out of the hip, maybe that will work. After all, you have to push down something if you're going to pull up something else. A lot of the advice to "pull up" is given to counteract the tendency of the student to collapse the torso and hips in a "flinch".

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Different imagery works for different dancers. The constant critique to "pull-up" didn't work for you, but a different image did work. Some dancers respond very well to "pull up." Others respond to other imagery. It's like that for almost every step. Sometimes when you get a teacher who has new ways to describe steps that you haven't tried before, you'll find that you have success with a step that's been troubling you. As a teacher, I've been trying to learn as much about dance imagery as possible, because the corrections that always worked for me as a dancer, sometimes don't work for all my students. When I've tried everything I know, I call in another, more experienced teacher, tell her what the problem is, and have her teach one of my classes. Sometimes that helps me learn new ways to fix a problem that I haven't thought of before. I know I'm rambling now! :) Anyway, I guess my point is that the other teacher probably wasn't saying anything wrong, you just happened to hit on an idea that worked better for you.

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This is true, MyFairLady, however, I think we have to be VERY careful of the words used to describe something. The idea of down to up is valid, but the idea of "...you need to push your supporting hip bone down..." can be VERY misleading! This is simply not the way one would describe either the down to up theory, or the technical information of getting up out of your hips! :) Words and imagery are very important, but misusing them can be a real problem. Think about telling one of your students to push down her supporting hip bone in an arabesque.....where does that take her? Right. Totally back and down with the pelvis pushing in the absolute opposite direction than you want it to go! Why it worked for Hart is beyond me, and I have to wonder if she only thought it worked, because if the pelvis pushing down, it also goes back. An arabesque is a forward and upward movement on the supporting leg.

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Ms. Leigh, I apologize for putting this in the wrong section. I meant to put in the Adult forum.

 

Thank you very much for the feedback. My miscommunication of "hip bone" is more a reflection of my teacher SHOWING US how to make the correction. She did not use the word hip bone. The mistake is in my communication. I guess this just shows how difficult the teacher/learning process is.

 

I think I am just trying to figure out how to ground myself a little bit to gain a little more stability. I have a really high center of gravity and it doesn't take much to throw me off my center. I can remember when I played basketball, I always got yelled at because I got pushed around too easily when I tried to block out.

 

The difficulty I have in thinking about my supporting foot pushing down into the floor is that the first thing I do is grip the floor with my big toe and it pushes me backwards when in releve and causes me to grip my hip flexors when I'm not.

 

On an experiential level, it seems like I have to think about pushing down to pull up at a higher level on my body to gain some stability. I think what Mr. Johnson is talking about with the opposition pull of the thigh bone is kind of what my teacher was talking about. The description of the muscles Ms. Leigh used is also very helpful to me.

 

So, when a teacher talks about "lifting your knee caps," will your knee caps lift automatically if you are "reaching out and pushing down" with the thigh bone? I guess I am trying to find actions that I can do to cover a multitude of sins, like bent knees, low demi-pointe, poor control, because you can only think of so many things at once. Is this concept of pushing down to pull up one of those "covers a multitude of sins" kind of concepts?

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Hopefully, yes! If one has a two way vertical energy going, it should reach throughout the body and do the things you are trying to do as well as your physique will allow. :lol:

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Hee! :lol: I just had to stand up and try to see what my kneecaps do when I follow my own advice! They move! Whaddaya know about that? In all this time I never noticed! Thanks! :D

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This is a fascinating discussion! I use imagery rather than physical descriptions to try to get my body to do the right things - but the thing that's both so frustrating and so wonderful about something like stepping onto a perfect pique arabesque, say, is that sometimes it just happens and you get a wonderful feeling of calmness, of motion and non-motion at the same time. And then the next time, you're rubbish!

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A good image to use is a tree. The tree is tall. But, the tree grows two ways, up AND down, through the roots to get a good 'footing' into the ground. This enables the tree to be strong in a wind. The limbs grow out and up from the roots and trunk.

 

Another good image to remember in all of dance is...DaVinci's Vitruvian Man. The man and the limbs fill the entire circle. Even in arabesque, the standing leg is lengthening downward, the back leg is lengthening outward, the head, neck, trunk are lengthening upward, the arms are lengthening outward as well (in the proper positions, of course :wub: But, the energy of the limbs and body fill the circle. Not one part of the body is left out. I liken it to the croise position of the arms and legs. It is not truly a croise position unless the head, and focus of the eyes is included. Same for arabesque (to include the head and focus) and to fill the circle.

 

Hope that imagery helps a little.

 

Also, I dislike the term 'pull-up'. I much prefer the term of 'lift off'. Lift off what? Lift the BACK of the ribs up and off of the hips so that the back of the ribs and the hips are in alignment. Just my preference :grinning:

 

b1

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b1, note the tree analogy in my first post on this thread. :grinning:

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I find it helpful when I developpe side, to think about the entire supporting side pushing down into the floor through the foot. It helps me lift out of my hips so the leg goes higher.

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