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gaining flexibility at the barre

Guest alcrand

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Guest alcrand

Hello, I am 23 and just started ballet. I have real trouble keeping my upper body and hips stationary when doing leg work at the barre. During exercises en croix, I can only get back 30 cm before my hips start trying to compensate!


Are there additional stretches I can do to improve this? I have never been injured, and am on the whole flexible.


Thank you.

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Hi! Wow. You picked a great city to start ballet classes in. There's so many wonderful schools and teachers to choose from. Where'd you decided to try your first classes?


I wouldn't stress too much yet. Ballet is a long process. Barre exercises are designed to work your flexibilty and strength exactly in the way you'll need to dance well.


Any time your leg goes to the back, there needs to be a slight opening of the hips so that you can maintain turnout. Your butt's in the way :yucky:


You can practice moving your leg independent of your hip simply by standing naturally and lifting your knee up. If you tense too much, the whole hip's going to go with it, so just practice moving your legs around without hip involvement in a natural, easy way for now. I still do this before class. Just swing my legs around freely and try not to tense and grip in the hips. Ballet can feel very unnatural and sometimes people mistakenly feel like they need to excessively be "holding" and "tensing" things (even some very advanced dancers!) There's a certain amount of "holding" yourself that needs to take place, but it takes a long time to discover just how much is necessary and which parts to hold.


Enjoy your classes!

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During exercises en croix, I can only get back 30 cm before my hips start trying to compensate!


your hips need to tilt forward when your leg goes back >30cm. That is bone anatomy, and everyone is built that way.

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No, sorry davidg, but the hips do not "tilt forward", as that makes the derrière go back. The hips MOVE forward and upward, and the working hip will need to open a bit in order to bypass the gluteous maximus and gain the rotation needed for an arabesque. The higher the leg goes, the more the body moves forward and upward.

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Guest alcrand

Thanks, everyone. I will try those natural leg movements without hip involvement, lampwick.


I am studying in one of P. Dokoudovsky's beginner classes at the NY Conservatory of Dance. I looked around at a few schools with open classes for adults, but this was the only one I visited where the instuctor was actively counting while students were dancing, and seemed to expect a lot of discipline from the dancers (even the hobbyists, like me). There are really good people who like to come to the beginner's sessions too- so I can see things being done right repeatedly.


Of course, I usually fall pretty short of the mark during classes, but it does feel good to be learning something well.

Edited by alcrand
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Victoria - I'd just like to say thanks for saying what you did about the hip movements. No-one has ever said that to me before, and when I tried it, it made all the difference! Wonderful! A strong and easy lift. Thank you for that gem!


As far as I can tell, I THINK the result of what you say is that you engage the gluts more in the lifting. Is that the case?





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