Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers



Recommended Posts

I tend to over-correct when taking a correction so I just want want to keep my eye out for those tendencies. For the next month I am focusing almost solely upon getting pulled-up, relaxing my tailbone down, and getting over my supporting leg. Three mistakes I have been needing to keep my eye on so far are, (1) The, "I am going to kill you," look whenever I am trying really hard, (2) Tucking under, (3) Ribs popping out when I am trying to us my lower abs to pull up, and (4) Tension in my upper body. What are other typical over-compensation mistakes in pulling-up, and does anyone have any feedback on the mistakes I already tend to make?

Link to comment

It might help to remember that your spine has natural curves, so while you do want your posture to be generally vertical, and you certainly don't want to exaggerrate your spinal curves, you also shouldn't try to eradicate them.


I tend to look at the "ribs out" problem as a breathing issue. When people pull up their abs, they often hold their breaths and fill their lungs, tensing up too much in the process. It's difficult, but it might help you to try breathing "sideways." Try this: Lie down on your stomach, and inhale slowly, trying to keep your ribs still (they will probably move a little bit, which is fine). Visualize the air coming into your lungs and filtering out through the back of your ribs (that is, your lower/middle back). At the same time, expand your lower/middle back sideways (it takes practice!) and then exhale and allow your back to relax. It's difficult to teach this in person, and even more so over the internet, but I hope it helps! If you can do it, that might also address your upper-body tension.


One last thing...make sure that when you're pulling up in your abs, you're pulling down in your shoulder-blades. The last thing you want is those shoulders popping up!

Link to comment

Ya, I actually made a girl cry once in intramural basketball because I was so focused. She thought she offended me when I was actually just having a ball playing basketball with all the passion I could muster. Oops.

Link to comment



This is something that I have been working on too, as one of my former teachers had me pushing into hyperextension, so that my pelvis was constantly tipped. I've had to rework myself out of that.


In a private lesson, when working on this, my teacher had me lie down on my back on the floor, finding the natural curves but also doing a port de bras - to keep the feeling of those shoulder blades sliding down and to feel where the breathing goes. It's been really helpful for my own mental visualisation. Don't be afraid to keep asking until you find something that works for you! It took me a while to get this, and the feeling I had while being on the floor and guided that way finally made it connect for me.


And yes, I get the 'concentration' look too. !!! I usually always naturally perform in class, but over the past few months I've been trying to cut back as I was afraid I was using it to cover-up technical problems. My new teacher noticed this and we talked through it, and she watched closely. It actually ended up that I was more techically correct while I was 'performing', especially in terms of being pulled-up or elongated! I also then soften my port de bras and my shoulders/neck, which also help with alignment. :(

Link to comment
Guest dancer'sheart

Hi, I'm a newbie here :)


About pulling up, is it just me or am I doing something wrong? I get up on pointe fine but it's my upper body that gets tired after class. My legs are not that weak after. I keep my neck and torso elongated, shoulders down, abs and tail tucked in etc. My teacher says I'll get used to it and just stretch after class. Any suggestions? Comments?



Link to comment

One of my teachers has described Hans' "sideways breathing" as "breathing through your back" which was a helpful image for me when I was learning to do it.


Also, just yesterday another teacher worked with me through barre on the placement of my torso, trying to get the "lift up" without the shoulders rising or other distortions. She said that I needed to think the old belly button to spine routine, but that the belly button had to be going upward as well as back, creating a diagonal line.


Finally, there was a good diagnostic: "pull up" with your arms just hanging loose at your side, if I was doing it correctly my arms naturally fell a little forward of the center line, if I was throwing myself back, they went back. A bonus of all this work is that it opened my back and engaged the muscles there as well.

Link to comment

This might only work for the anatomically inclined of us, but I was once taught to imagine that I breath with my kidneys, not with my lungs. After I stopped giggling at the mental image, I've found that it helps me to keep my ribs calm.

Link to comment

The breathing exercises Hans describes are standard in voice and acting classes. For singers they are essential. I do them regularly with students to introduce them to careful thinking about the relationship of spine, shoulder girdle, ribs, and diaphragm, and to help them to visualise the spine internally. And they help to get a sense of the navel to backbone correction as well - you can really feel the lower abdominals engage as you try to hold (rather than push) your back on the floor.

Link to comment

hart---My teacher always tells me to put all my working energy into my legs. If they're extremely straight and strong, I find that it's quite easy to align my spine and hips and to gently pull up through the waist without undue tension in the upper body.


I used to concentrate on pulling up in the body so much, my legs weren't working as well as they could. I've found if I go off balance in the center, I can regain it if I remember to make the standing leg very strong and straight. They're like a tree trunk.

Link to comment
Guest dancer'sheart
What part of your upper body is tired after class?


It's my upper torso, shoulders, & arms. My arms are usually in the second or third position. I feel fine during class, it's after that I feel tired. I keep my shoulders down, not bunching it up, and my torso, arms, and neck elongated. Am I pulling up too much? I didn't get this feeling when I was dancing before. I've been dancing since I was 16 - 24. Now I'm 33. Is it age or just getting used to it again :blink: . I've been doing yoga and pilates while I was working and some weight training. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks



Link to comment

If you just started, it's totally normal for your arms to get tired and a bit sore. Give it time.


It's hard to hold your arm out to the side for a long time. That's why professionals have visible arm muscles. They really do get a workout!

Link to comment

Any time you work differently, the body will take time to adjust. Even if you're working on the same thing but working on it differently. I've had to use 'new' muscles to get my lower back to stretch out, and the way my current teacher has me using my arms feels so much better while I'm dancing, but my muscles are still getting used to it.


And then there's good stuff - like when you're working the right way and can FEEL it....


It took me a while to realise that the type of aches I had in my legs constantly was a sign of not working hard, but working too hard - lots of gripping, etc. Now my legs feel tired and achy, not tense. It's a good feeling.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...