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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Explaining Physical Limitations


Guest FlyHigh

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Guest FlyHigh

I recently took classes at BDC in New York while I was visiting and I intent to take classes next time I am in for a few days. the problem I ran into is that I have some physical limitations in my dancing because I have moderate scoliosis. I am 22 and there are just somethings my body is never going to be mostly straight. I am crooked I mean not noticibly unless you are looking for it but teachers often think I am not holding myself but I am. The biggest thing is that my back is arched. Even when I have my butt tucked and abdominals engaged, it still appears that I am not holding myself because of the shape of my back. My normal studio teacher is aware and knows that i am working but i have had more than one teacher ar BDC comment on not using my muscles. I don't know what I should do in this situation normally I just try to do whatever they say to no avail but i don't want them to think i am not trying. One jazz teacher even tried to help me by trying to bring me into my center but no matter how hard she tried i wasnt going anywhere. i felt like I couldn't tell them that I was unable to do it but on the other hand felt i should justify myself. I hope I am making sense. What should I be doing in this situation?

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Hi, Flyhigh and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :cool2:

 

Speak up! We teachers are good at identifying what's wrong, but diagnosing how it got that way is not always our strong point. You say that you're scoliotic, and that should be something a teacher can spot in pretty short order. But you further describe lordosis. That's a double whammy and hard for a teacher to remedy, let alone find an etiology on the spot. So say something.

 

You really should have an orthopedist look over your problems with the spine, and see what can be done. Having two different kinds of excessive spinal curvatures could spell problems for you in later life.

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Guest FlyHigh

Thanks. I have been seen by a specialist. My sister had scoliosis extremely bad and wore a brace for years so they were constantly checking my back. I never reached the stage where you need a brace because it didn't progress enough until I was 16. Anyway it is just annoying and causes me some pain and such. there is nothing they can do about it. Yeah genetics. It won't move anymore now because i am completely grown i only have to be aware if i get pregnant since the weight and stress of pregnancy can cause it to progress further. i guess i just feel awkward and like i am making excuses when i am in a class where i am the new/visiting student and i don't want to have to disrupt the class by having to explain myself.

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*knock knock*

I can sympathise. I was born with a very twisted pelvis. Many excellent ballet teachers have tried to get me "square" in the hips, to no avail. After a couple years of constant back/hip pain, muscle spasms, and tightness I was finally advisd by a medical professional who works with dancers to *not* try and "correct" my hips. Lo and behold...all the pain in my hips is gone, and my turnout has even increased! I'm not quite "square", but that's just the shape of my body.

 

I'm still having trouble with new teachers trying to "fix" my hips. I think if I take with someone a few times, I just smile and try to do what they say. In a long term situation with a teacher, I'd like to have a conversation about strategies for dealing with my body. I'm advanced, know my body well, and dance all right with the strange hips, so I would hope that a teacher could respect the way I choose to work. But it's always a strange situation...If an expert wants to help me, and I trust and respect the person, I hate disagreeing. I don't want to come across as disagreeable or fatalistic...

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Guest FlyHigh

Do you find turning difficult? I turn fine on the flat after finding where I have to be for my "center" but on pointe I am a disaster. I can't get past singles because I can't seem to balance on pointe while turning for longer than that. Any suggestions? Its like for correct foot placement, the rest of my body is too crooked so i can't balance right in pirouettes on pointe. I am so glad you responded. It is nice to know you aren't alone. My normal teacher and I are aware of my problems and if she tries to fix something that can't be fixed I am not afraid to tell her but in a situation where I am visiting a class like in the city I am tempted to keep my mouth closed because I feel like I am making excuses to them otherwise and I don't want to me disrepectful.

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Teacher responding here...teachers can only teach students who are interested to learn what the teacher has to contribute. If the teacher is not working with a full deck of cards, meaning enough information to make responsible decisions about the information being dispursed, then the teacher is unable to teach to the best of his/her ability to that particular student. When taking drop-in classes, such as those offered at BDC, the responsibility level is vastly different than what should be required at your home studio. Teaching ballet techinque is basically the same in every class (I am not discussing syllabus here, just the requirements for really teaching). A teacher is not able to teach if students do not tell the teacher about physical issues that exist. Teachers are not mind readers.

 

The student's expectations of a teacher need to be realistic. If the teacher does not have the information then the teacher is not able to really help in a constructive manner. For drop in classes in a school one does not normally attend, just take the class. Hear the possible new information being given and some of the same ol' oldies but goodies and enjoy. Students and teachers need to learn about one another before the real work can begin. Only through consistent work will any teacher be able to "see" if a student is making excuses or really is unable to achieve. The achievement ideal can always be adjusted for good dancing.

 

Scoliosis is quite common in ballet dancers. There have been quite a few very famous dancers with varying degrees this condition. Relax and continue to FlyHigh. :)

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Flyhigh,

It's just generally a bit harder for me to place myself on the right standing leg, no matter what I'm doing. I can manage fairly reliable doubles pirouettes on both sides, but turning left is always harder to stay on my hip. But I usually know what I've done wrong if the turn fails. I take care to feel what my body is doing and try to relax.

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