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how to use gluteus muscles?


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I have at least 5 different teachers for technique classes each week, and I've heard two different opinions or outlooks on how to use the gluteus muscles, and I just don't know which is right.

For example, in just a plie rolling up to demi pointe in first position, one teacher, my youth company director, says that I need to engage the backs of my legs right at the bottom of my butt to hold my turnout and keep my balance. This seems to work fine for me, but when I do this, my gluteus muscles all engage and my butt looks completely round-not a very balletic line.

Another teacher, who was in NYCB in the 50's, told me while I was doing exactly the same step how my other teacher described that I shouldn't be using my gluteus at all, that my butt should be completely relaxed, and that if I keep using these muscles, my already unusually muscular butt will just keep getting bigger. When I try to relax these muscles, I can't hold my turnout at all and I certainly can't releve or balance, but if I could relax these muscles, it would probably improve the line.

Should I keep doing what works, or try to relax these muscles, or just try it for this teacher's class? I already have to make several big technical adjustments for this class, including changing my hand position, keeping my ribs closed so tightly that I can't breathe, and using a lower arabesque because she says I am using my back too much, and I should be using my center more.


here is a link to a picture that might demonstrate my current butt situation, lol:


I am the farthest to the right, and this isn't my best tendu derriere, but you can tell that my butt is very engaged and it looks very strange compared to some of the other girls in the line.

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I would look to a "via media" - a middle way - in dealing with this situation. Certainly making the glutes rock-hard is not good. It builds in the "tuck" which makes everything more difficult. The pelvis tips forward. They can't be all moosh either, because that allows for the sway back. Try thinking of making the spine as long as you can. That should make just the right amount of engagement for the glutes, without introducing strain. And strain is the enemy of good ballet. And on that note, relax your hand, so it doesn't show any strain! (My gosh, you look so much like a girl I used to partner!) :)

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Sorry, but there is nothing at all wrong with the way your gluteus maximus looks in that photo! If you don't engage those muscles you will not have any rotation and you won't be lifted out of your supporting leg. Do not "grip" them, but you must use them. There are rotator muscles deep inside those glutes and if you leave those muscles lax they don't work.

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Thank you both, I'll concentrate on finding a happy medium next time I take class. And about that hand...that right hand is both mine and the second teacher mentioned below's greatest nemesis! :rolleyes:

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