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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tough situation


La_Bailarina

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I go to a college prep boarding school with a well respected modern based dance program. They offer ballet twice a week at an advanced level (all the girls in this class dance elsewhere as well), modern everyday, and a pilates based class once a week that is required for each level. I dance outside of the school five days a week in a pre-pro program. However, I have made an agreement with the school that in exchange for letting me miss the required nightly study hall to attend the outside classes, I will be enrolled in and taking classes through their dance department. Not a big deal for me, the classes are a little lower level than what I'm capable of, but not horribly easy. From the school, I take the two highest ballet classes (I'm allowed to take them on pointe for challenge), two intermediate modern classes, and the pilates. All was going well until early October. The pilates class has an across the floor component at the end which is always a mixture of ballet, modern, and jazz jumping combinations. This is our first dance class of the day, so we're usually all pretty cold. I don't feel as if all the pilates stuff we do for the first hour of the class (its 90 min long) sufficiently warms up my legs for all the jumping. In early October during this class I landed funky out of a straddle leap and messed up my hip- still awaiting an official diagnosis. I believe, as does my orthopedist and my PT and my other ballet teachers, that this was probably a result of not being fully warmed up. As I start to think about returning to dance within hopefully the next month, I am puzzled about what I should do about this class. I have to take it but I don't feel comfortable in it. I love the pilates at the beginning and I definitely was benefitting from it but I'm worried that the same thing is going to happen again. Would I be way out of line to ask sit out of the big jumps? I've thought about trying to warm myself up before class but its only 30 minutes after the end of the school day and I have a lab last period that day so I'm usually having to stay after to clean up and then I still have the ten minute walk across campus to make.

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I would suggest discussing this with the AD of the school. I have never heard of a Pilates class that incorporates these kinds of things. Classical dancers with a lot of training are very used to having certain kinds of work to prepare them for jumping, and even though Pilates for an hour should get one warmed up in certain ways, it very well might not prepare one to do ballet/modern/jazz jumping movements across the floor. Do request sitting out the jumps, but also discuss this matter as suggested above.

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I'll definitely bring it up when I meet with the department head next week. I have to go in and see her anyway as there are some issues of misunderstanding between the school trainer, the dance department head, and me that need to be cleared up- originally, it was thought that I might be able to dance on a cut back schedule so they had me sitting out of the school classes so I that I'd be okay to dance at the other classes (at the pre-pro) but after the first class, I woke up the next morning and couldn't walk so that plan was immediatly destroyed but the dance department head never found that out so there have been some nasty emails directed at me wondering why I'm dancing at all if I'm not in her classes when in fact, I'm not dancing.

 

I think the idea behind the jumping combination was to strengthen our jumps. Overall, the vast majority of dancers in the school are weak jumpers but turn like tops (alot come from comp. backgrounds, a connection perhaps?) and the director really wanted to see that change so I'm thinking this is part of that effort. I would much prefer to work on turning, I'm more of the jumping variety than the turning sort.

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knock knock, teacher here:

I agree with Miss Leigh, I do not think Pilates warms the dancers up to jump. I am a very strong believer in the benefits of pilates but do not see that this is what it is about. I find when my students take a Pilates class they still need a classical class before they are ready to jump. Seems that only the complete ballet class with warm up jumps prepares them for grand allegro. They are able to do them at the end of ballet class but not after pilates. I wonder if this is about how the body is conditioned and what we are used to or if there is no substitute for the ballet class to prepare for grand allegro.

I would definitely ask for permission to sit out of that part of the class you are just not warm enough after coming back from an injury. As I teacher I would not have a problem with that. I think the pilates portion however should be helpful to your hips.

:pinch:

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Good to hear two teacher's opinions on this and that I'm not alone in worrying that the pilates is not enough to warm up for grand allegro. I do love the pilates so I wouldn't want to drop the class even if I could (well, technically, I could but it would mean not dancing at all), its just that jumping part that I'm weary of. I'll also talk to the trainer about it and see what she thinks from a more medical standpoint.

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