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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help in learning to stand up


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Well, I have been almost solely focused on learning to pull-up and relaxing my tailbone down, but I am still struggling some with the concept. My pelvis is not particularly stable so this is quite a challenge for me. I am hyperextended and recently got a correction from one teacher that I am pushing back into my knees. She continued to encourage me to work on relaxing my tailbone down so that I could get my weight more forward. This is such hard work!! Another teacher recently told me that I was "pushing through." I wasn't sure if she meant that I was tucking under or what?? Anyway, I seem to have basic difficulty with my weight placement and alignment. I have a hard time really getting over my supporting leg and I have a hard time getting my weight forward without compromising my alignment. And the most difficult thing is that I just really don't know what "correct" feels like yet, meaning that there are times when I think I have made progress only to find that I have replaced one mistake with another. I know correct isn't, (1) tucking (2) swaying (3) pushing back into my knees, (5) being straight without natural curves, or (5) hanging onto the barre like a drunkard, but I would give anything to have the confidence that comes with knowing when I am, in fact, as well placed as my body will allow.


Ballet is such a paradox, so simple but so hard. I mean, a 10 month old can stand up, but in ballet, half the time I look like I couldn't pass a sobriety test.


Persevering but in need of encouragment and feedback,



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"Ballet is such a paradox, so simple but so hard. I mean, a 10 month old can stand up, but in ballet, half the time I look like I couldn't pass a sobriety test."

:green: so true! it's slow progress too but it's worth it!


the correction that has helped me is to hold an imaginary square between my hip bones and bottom rib cage, while at the same time having a string pull up through your head (so not to sit on hips). I believe good posture comes from having an engaged center, or that's what it feels like for me... Wish I could offer better suggestions, but I'm not hyperextended or a teacher so maybe I've got it wrong.

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Are you holding your turnout muscles and abs properly? Those two things will at least keep you from swaying. :ermm: In terms of your weight being forward, when you stand, are you conscious of most of your weight being on the ###### of your feet? No matter how "pulled up" you are in your upper body, it won't help if you feel that your weight is on your heels. Be sure that your gluteus muscles are pulled up well. Hope this helps!

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Hart, I just wanted to offer some commisserations! :ermm: My previous teacher had me pushing back into my (slight) hyperextension to create an 'Eiffel Tower' look with my legs. The result is weight shifting into the heels, and my pelvis was permanently tipped. grrrrr.....


Over the past year I've been working with a new teacher who has been helping me immensely. For the most part my pelvis is now sorted (with occassional reminders needed!) But it's a long process and I still need help and corrections with it. Sometimes she walks towards me to correct something, and that is reminder enough! I fix it before she gets there and we have a giggle. But these things really do take time, and I know it's frustrating. I wish I could just automatically be aligned all the time! However, starting to feel the difference between when you are, and when you're not, or what part is not, is a huge step in that process. And, I think there are some results which I personally have been seeing really quickly, especially in terms of my balance on both demi pointe and pointe. And, if I am 'standing up', my turns are much better. Not excellent, but perfectly acceptable. Those are the things that make the work worth it. :)


In the end, it's all about babysteps....

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People sometimes say that the most basic ballet (or any dance form for that matter) skill is something like plie or tendu, but I believe the most basic skill is doing things on one leg. I think I’m a pretty decent dancer, but find the simple skill of fondu sometimes challenging, for example.


Teachers usually offer good corrections and suggestions, which have been given time and time again and proven successful with the majority of people. But these corrections are not always useful for a particular student. Try as you might, employing a correction might not lead to any immediate improvement.


Personally, I think one of the fun parts of adult ballet is to work through these problems. Try doing whatever your teacher suggests, but if it doesn’t work, think through the problem on your own and experiment. Try imaging. Spend time doing some of the combinations you do in class that give you trouble and do them slowly, without any music. Most of all be patient. Improvement for most of us comes exceedingly slowly, in fact it is so slow we barely recognized that we have improved at all.

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The image of a string running from the top of my head or my ears to the sky is what works for me, plus keeping my shoulder blades from climbing up....and I also second Hans about testing that your weight's on the ###### of the feet.

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Guest ArmedFiddler

One of the many reasons why I love my current teacher is that she seems to thrive on hearing the words, "But what does the right position/pose/alignment/balance/etc. FEEL like?" This is what she does to help that with us, perhaps it will help you too...


She tells us to do whatever it was we were doing wrongly in the first place. Then hold ourselves in that stance for a moment while describing in detail what we feel in each part of the body in that stance. Then we look in the mirror and have a dialogue about how those physical sensations match up with what we see in the mirror.


She then physically & verbally places us in the right position, working down the body from the neck to the toes. If it's a stance on one leg, she'll place the working leg on a box or chair until the body is properly aligned...then she removes the box or chair once we're in place. Then she asks, "Describe how each part of your body feels right now."


We go into as much detail as possible, more than just saying "knees pulled up, shoulders down." She wants to hear from us that we notice how our muscles, tendons, bones, and joints feel each time the alignment and placement is correct, and how it affects our equillibrium. Then we have the same dialogue with her as above on how what we feel looks like. Then, she tells us how this looks different from what we were doing wrongly, while we describe how this ifeels different from what we felt before the correction.


Sometimes, just getting it out in our own words can be enough to help us correct ourselves. Considering teachers often use the same words to correct different mistakes in different students (i.e., the phrases "pull up" and "tuck in" can be used to reference several mistakes), it helps to use individiualized phrasing. If the proper correction doesn't happen the first time, or if we just replace one corrected mistake with a new (as yet uncorrected) one, she goes through this process again. Over and over until we can finally reach the point where our bodies feel like they did when she placed us properly into position...by then, we know not only how it feels, we also know just how it is we got there.

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Keep your ear to the ground, your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, your back to the wall, your foot on the gas, and if you can work in THAT position, oh, you're good! :lol:

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My teacher keeps telling me the image of holding a coin with your buttocks down between your legs- hope that is not too graphic :)- at least it helped me to get the right posture .

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That's an oldie, but not necessarily a goodie. Some people do it as if they're holding their entire life's savings down there, and clench the buttocks so tightly that they tip the pelvis forward. Not a good thing.

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ouh Im sorry Mr Johnson!


It is more a "down, in and together but DOWN" thinking. straight down and not forward.


It helped me but maybe it is not for everybody.

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Right, separate applications for individual students, or "different strokes for different folks". It's what makes coaching ballet on a message board such a devilish tricky thing to do. I won't even say I've got it right, yet! :P

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hart, I'm hyperextended and can relate. My pelvis still tips forward in 5th position, especially early in class. The front of the hips seem to loosen up later on during barre.


Keeping the weight "over the ###### of the feet" is a useless correction for me. I can lift my heels off the floor, and still be very tipped forward in the pelvis with the legs bending backward. Kepping the front of the hips flat and nt gripping is more of a useful feeling (for me). I often put my hands right on the illiac crests when I work and make sure I'm not tipping. Making the front of the hips "comfortable" has helped me a lot. If the hips strain, usually it maens I'm holding on for dear life. Controlling rotation with this type of structure is very very important.

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