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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Extension for Older Dancers


premaballrina

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Does anyone have any suggestions for a 22 year old dancer trying to work on her extension? I know the majority of extension is maxed-out in the early teen years, but is there any hope for older pre-professional girls?

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The mechanics for the 22-year-old pre-professional student are just the same as they are for the teenager. Proper placement, proper alignment, correct technique, and all the rest of it, including range, flexibility and strength. There is nothing for it but work, work and more work. But, for a 22-year-old pre-professional, time is not on her side.

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Any suggestions for strething techniques for this dancer? Something other than the ordinary splits/leg on the barre stretch?

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I'd really have to see the dancer. To do otherwise would be like prescribing in a vacuum.

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The girl complains of hip tightness. She has an exceptional arabesque, but lacks flexibility in develope to the front and sides. Her body is proportionately thin and she gets strength from weight training twice a week. How can she relax the hips?

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Sorry, still no dice. Advice for an unseen dancer with absolutely no time to lose would be like quack medicine done by correspondence. Not gonna touch it.

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Maybe some other dancers in the forum have some suggestions or stretching techninques that they have used and worked for them. Girls, if you have any ideas please feel free to share! I realize that there is not one true answer or "perscription." Thanks! :blink:

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premaballrina, are you asking for yourself or for someone else? Your profile says 'professional', and you are asking about a 22 year 'preprofessional' student, which is a bit confusing.

 

We are very careful about recommending specific stretches for an individual without being able to see the person. There are a lot of general stretches that everyone learns in ballet classes, of course, including some which it might be better to eliminate, such as the leg on the barre stretch if it involves any sliding at all. Splits do the same stretching and are much safer.

 

If there is a specific area that one is trying to 'relax', I would suggest going to a Pilates or Gyrotonics instructor. Try to find one with ballet experience. Many Pilates teachers today are former dancers.

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*knock knock* I'm an "older" ballet dancer, in my late 20s.

 

I won't recommend any stretches, but I can pass along some advice that one of my teachers has given me which seems to help my tight hips a whole lot.

 

He keeps telling me to "keep it low" and "make it comfortable". "Make it comfortable" is a mantra he keeps repeating. He makes us hold the extension for a while, only as high as you can comfortably hold without losing support in the torso. As you hold it there, keep gently shifting around the supporting hip and working leg until it feels comfortable. Everyone has a "sweet spot" where you no longer feel like the front of the hip is "gripping". You just have to experiment and find it, of course with the watchful eye of a good teacher.

 

I spend a lot of time in his class finding where the exact placement is. Same principal with balancing. If you're straining at all, you're not really on your leg. It should feel easy and comfortable. One just needs to slow down and "find" exactly where you are. If anything's straining, many times the placement is just a bit off. My left hip is fiercely, stubbornly, tight and he's always making me just gently swing that leg around and trying to "make it comfortable".

 

It's an interesting approach, I think. If it feels wrong, then fix it so it doesn't. Really plain and simple. I think the dancer really has a lot of responsibility to take the time and feel thier body from the inside.

 

I have no idea if that's helpful...some people don't seem to get it at all, but it's been really useful for me. And it's working :( .

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Lampwick, that sounds really simple. I've always wondered what to do with extension. I will give this a try next time I am in class. Thanks for the tip (even though this wasn't my question!)

 

Edited to say - sorry, I didn't notice this was in Teens - please remove if appropriate. :(

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It's a principal that can be applied to anything. Really, one can hold a balance in retire for two counts or for eight, but still be making the same mistake. If you're really on, the balance should feel effortless and you should be able to hold it relatively indefinitely.

 

I don't have an extension that's orbiting the planet, but it's above 90 and I can hold it for as long as I want without feeling like I'm going to die.

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It's a principal that can be applied to anything. Really, one can hold a balance in retire for two counts or for eight, but still be making the same mistake. If you're really on, the balance should feel effortless and you should be able to hold it relatively indefinitely.

 

I don't have an extension that's orbiting the planet, but it's above 90 and I can hold it for as long as I want without feeling like I'm going to die.

 

Thanks! As one who has always had good extension naturally, it is hard for me to explain to someone who is struggling. I will e-mail my friend (by the way she is a trainee with Nashville Ballet) in hopes that this advice somehow helps her. I appreciate your positive and encouraging advice!

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You can tell her it comes indirectly from Alexander (Sasha) Filipov. I attribute the height I'm starting to get from Emilietta Ettlin, but Sasha's the one who's gotten me to stop straining (so much :dry: )

 

Of course, it takes a long time and it's an uphill battle...but it works. I'm starting to have hope that the extension's going to eventually be what I want. Right now, it's "acceptable". Of course I want it to be above my shoulder. It is if I let go in pied dans la main. Never thought it would be, at my age and with my tight narrow hips. My problem's actually GETTING it there. Holding it isn't as bad. There's something wrong with the mechanics of my developpe, obviously. My hamstrings seem to disagree that my leg belongs up there :( But I have hope that I can outsmart them.

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Lampwick,

That's good advice (finding the sweet spot). It makes me think about balance differently. I'll try it next class. I would love to know what Emilietta Ettlin shared to improve your extension. Mine could use help.

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Rhapsody--the mods don't seem to want us to post specific stretches and exercises. It's a good idea, actually. I've been taking a floor barre class with Ms.Ettlin for over two years now (along with her regular ballet classes). It's taken a very long time and a LOT of hard work to get the correct placement and feeling in my body and it's not something that can really be corrected without working with someone one on one. It's her entire methodology that creates stability and strength, not really one or two simple exercises.

 

In general, though, it's a lot of hamstring stretching, abdominal and back strengthening, and a lot of exercises which force you to be very placed on the supporting side. You cant lose support on the standing side, or everything else "goes". You grip, you tuck, you strain... The standing leg side is very important. The minute you allow your ribcage to displace and your working hip to lift, you start to create problems. It takes patience and self discipline to not try and force the leg up there and lose alignment.

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