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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Problems with shoulder and turnout question


lyricgirl

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One of the corrections I get the most in class is to bring my shoulders down. I asked my teacher about this last night and she said that my shoulders are really inflexible which makes it very difficult to keep them down and lengthen into high fifth. It is really hard to pull my arm back into high fifth when in arabesque and almost impossible to keep the shoulder down when attempting this. Is there any stretch I can do to stretch this area out a bit. :wink:

 

Also, is it normal for one leg to have much better turnout then the other. I was noticing this last night when we were doing some floor barre. The left leg turns out more and seems to be more flexible although it is the weaker side. My right side is stronger but the foot, leg, and turnout are not nearly as flexible. I'm sorry if this has already been posted. I was just wondering if it was normal.

 

Thanks.

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The turnout on the left being better is common. It has something to do with the right, being stronger, being more muscle-bound. The more developed muscle holds and restricts the movement more. Mine does the same thing (also odd...I turn better on my left).

 

Possibly the best thing you can do to increase your shoulder flexibility and rotation is yoga. My arms are long and very flexible from some extensive yoga training. Yoga will teach you had to stretch and release the shoulder and upper back.

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Yes, it's normal to be assymetrical. Almost everyone is to a greater or lesser extent. A good teacher can help you with this.

 

The shoulder tension is most likely due to a general lack of conditioning and work from the abdominals and back. I also believe that leg strength contributes greatly to the look of tension in the shoulders. Once overall strength and technique (placement) improves, the shoulders will "free" up.

 

My shoulders have always been my "problem" area. I'm still working on them. They've improved mostly through strengthening of my core. I'm long, flexible, and hyperextended and need to work hard to build control and strength. Partly the tension is probably part of my personality. I have trouble "opening" the line, because I instinctively "shrink". That can be worked on as well. Part of it is just how I'm built. I have tiny shoulders and skinny arms and a very long neck. They look "angular". If my neck is a bit forward, it looks VERY forward to an observer because I'm so long there. Good news is that once it's "fixed", it'll make a really nice line for ballet. My point is, there's a lot of factors and there's a lot of ways one needs to approach a "problem" area.

 

Although Yoga and Pilates are a wonderful suppliment to any training regime, the amount and intensity of classical ballet study will do more to improve your classical ballet dancing than any suppliment. But yes, relaxing and breathing are important. relax into a nice line, even if your leg needs to be lower. If you create the corrrect line, tension free (but low) you'll start to "feel" in your body the logic and form of the shape, and how you can use your body efficiently to make that shape. The more I learn, the more I feel that using turnout correctly "fixes" other problems.

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Thank you for your advice. I do carry tension in the shoulders but my teacher said that alot of the tension is created from my shoulders being inflexible. I create the tension by trying to force them down and back. Are there any specific stretches to loosen up the shoulder area. :pinch:

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Personally I’m a little skeptical about lack of flexibility being a cause of shoulder tension, but I suppose it is a possibility, I don’t really know.

 

I think shoulder tension can be reduced by concentrating on using the back more in every arm movement you make. For practice, do simple port de bras visualizing the arms being as relaxed as possible and using the back to move the arms (not the shoulder). Though I don’t think torso strength enters that much into things, doing exercises for the torso will make you realize it is an important part of movement and its use will probably result in your using your torso more (and arms less).

 

As to stretching, a variety is almost always best. My favorite for shoulders is to clasp the hands behind the back and raise the hands while keeping the elbows straight. Add a high arch as the arms rise and you get a little upper back and chest stretch. Also cross the arms in front of your body and lie on the floor. A final one is to lie on your side and make a full circle with your hand in constant contact with the floor (keep your focus on the moving hand). The shoulder is a very mobile joint so you want to stretch it throughout its range of movement.

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Guest adancingartistforlife

I agree with Garyecht.

 

I always tell my students (and try to remember myself) that the arms are attached at the center of the back, and not the shoulders...as in the shoulderblades are part of the arm

 

The first time this really woke up for me was when I did a lot of Checcetti port de bras...I could really feel the arms working out of the center of the back, instead of being "held up from above" by the by the deltiod muscles, the arms are being supported from below by the lats

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The shoulder is a very mobile joint so you want to stretch it throughout its range of movement.

 

And because it's so mobile, it's also very prone to injury -- second only to the knee in delicateness! :lol:

 

So stretch, but be careful. And absolutely try yoga, but be careful there too - lots of people jump into yoga and suddenly find themselves with rotator cuff injuries. (She says, sheepishly massaging her injured shoulder tendons! B) ) If you are someone with tense/tight shoulders you probably hunch the shoulders forward somewhat (we all do!) - if you go into a yoga class and start doing, for example, chaturanga-upward dog-downward dog with hunched shoulders you can really hurt those shoulder tendons.

 

One trick that a yoga teacher showed me to help me find good shoulder alignment is this: Stand with your arms at your sides. Grab your pants or tights where your hands naturally fall (just past hip level or so)and gently pull your pants out to the side -- you should feel the muscles in your back, just under your shoulder blades engaging nicely - these are the muscles you want to use in both ballet and yoga to keep your shoulders in place and to open your chest, rather than forceing the shoulders down. :thumbsup:

 

I also really like Garyecht's idea of initiating movement from the back and core. There are lots of dance imagery books out there that can help you with the concept and give you ideas for how to develop that.

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