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She knows WHAT to fix But not HOW to fix it


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I am not sure if this is the right place to post this, so please feel free to move it etc. if it is not.


My 14.5 DD has recently moved studios to one which is more supportive of her dancing aspirations. We have seen huge improvement in various areas both in technique and in confidence. However she does have some problems with certain areas which seem to be a result of overlooked training at her previous studio.


DD is currently doing Advanced 1 RAD and is very tiny for her age, only 148cm tall. The problems she has are to do with her body line, eyeline and arm line. She has had limited success in fixing her eyeline but body line and arm line continue to elude her. For example she has been told to soften and round her arms. But her arms are so thin, when she rounds her armss her knobbly elbows stick out. Her thin wrists often don't seem to be able to support her arm and wrist and so often look 'cocked". Her long thin fingers look like a "demented spider"(guest teacher's words) when she tries to hold them in a ballet pose.


DD is worried that perhaps it is too late to fix these problems as these ideas should have fused in her brain when she was much younger and now it is fused wrongly. She is frustrated because she tries to follow her teacher's instructions but cannot achieve the look they are after. And she is worried about her RAD Ad1 exam because line and artistry are very important aspects of this exam, not just achieving set exercises correctly.


Any advice? Has anyone ever been in a similar situation? Is there hope for improvement or would any improvement made now be limited, given her age etc.? Thanks

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I don't know how helpful this will be, as my DD does not do a RAD syllabus, but she has had the same problem with thin arms looking knobby at the elbow and therefore not rounded, compounded by the fact that arms were worked on less than legs and other things in her early training. Incidentally, she is slightly younger than your daughter. Having seen my DD's frustration at working on her arms with minimal success, I feel your pain. A different teacher spent significant class time changing her arm position to their preferred one, a "Vaganova" arm (?) and this somehow achieved the desired result indirectly. That won't be an option for you, since you use a different syllabus, but there's one important point that might help: She found that, once someone has shown the correct position, it takes 21 days of consistent effort to truly make the change (someone once told her that studies show that it takes 21 days). That is exactly how long it took! She is still working to refine it and of course fighting the tendency to revert back to old habits, but she just has to remain vigilant about it. She was told to concentrate on the back of the upper arm, and she concentrates on the shoulder and wrist, not the elbow. Without rounding the back or caving forward, she sort of learned to release the shoulders downward without tension. I wish I could be more helpful, but I want you to know that there is hope if the teacher clearly shows her what to do. It seems unlikely to happen on one's own. I hope I've offered encouragement, if nothing else!

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The good news about fixing port de bras is that it is entirely fixable! And by no means do we expect a 13 year old to be perfect, especially if she has that angular structure of many small dancers. First of all, as she matures the shape will improve. But she certainly is not beyond the age and never will be! Port de bras, once understood, is simply a matter of practice and it's the easiest part of ballet to practice because you don't need a studio, a big space, a barre, or a special floor. A little space and a mirror, and some music and you work on port de bras. :wink:

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DD has recently moved studios


I'd say give it some time. I'm sure her teachers are trying to explain how to and it may take a little bit until they can find the right words or demonstrate in the way she'll get it.


But her arms are so thin, when she rounds her arms her knobbly elbows stick out.


Sounds like my dd when she switched schools. It took a little while but they fixed it. They do have her hold her arms slightly different than some of the other girls to soften the look. The change in hormones also helped. She's no longer gangly looking anywhere.

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For some reason, arm placement seems like it's always a problem. It has been my DD's problem for years. For a time, every teacher was having her hold them a different way. I still hear her getting corrections about how she holds them whenever I happen to be early picking her up...

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I think one continually receives corrections on arms!! I bstill get corrections every time I take class!! :thumbsup:


Seriously though, that's one of the most interesting things about ballet- you will never reach perfection. You will strive every single day to be better, and you will continually improve. And new things will crop up to work on!


Port de bras can be improved upon certainly, at any age.

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*knock knock*


I'm an adult professional dancer with a very long, gangly, body. Thin long arms and neck. Suited to angular lines and styles of movement. My arms either look completely straight, or totally wonky and bent. The soft look is hard for me to achieve.


The company I joined has a much softer, more classical style. I've been told to pay attention how I draw lines from my fingertips, rather than focus so much on the elbows. i think that matching eye and the line of the head to the fingertips creates that softer, more coordinated look I want to achieve at this point.


It can certainly be worked on at any time. Head, eyes, and arms are technical elements, but can be stylized as a dancer gets older or changes the style of dance they are performing. It's never something that's "set" by the time a dancer reaches a certain age. Can always be changed/improved upon. Developing a strong back and torso and knowing how to use it is more important, since IMO, that's where movement is initiated/controlled from.

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Sorry, technical error earlier - I am still a newbie at this and a bit of a luddite!


Thank you for all your support and encouragement. I will show DD this thread; she will be relieved that the problem is fixable with of course, like everything else - hard work!


I think she has shown improvement in other areas of her dancing as a result of switching studios that she hoped to see instant improvement in everything. Of course we know this is not possible, but as one of her major problems has been a lack of self confidence ( due to issues at her previous studio) I did not want this problem to cause a relapse in this, so to speak.


Once again thank you - this is such a great site. :D

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Don't worry [or try not to!]. As many have said, working on attainging correct arm placement and line is an ongoing thing-which takes years. The fact that your daughter has moved to a new dance environment which Supports Her-is wonderful. Even with pro-aspirations, your child is still just that-a kid. There is time, especilly with the hard work she is doiing, her recent smart move, and your support, to make the changes. All dance students-and even young pro's-are works in progress. Take heart--her teachers will guide her to improve what she must- and it sounds as if they believe in your daughter already. No matter what her eventual height and body weight grow to be, development and maturity [physically] over the next few years will also help with all dance aread a great deal. It takes courage for you [and your DD] to have made this move and change. Now, it does take some patience. An idea: ask the director at new studio if there's an older gal who's been there awhile. Maybe having a 'big sister' [especially as she's the ledest in your family] at her new dance home will help her to gain confidence. Youth mentorhip ['older' kids spending time wih younger ones] is great in ballet-and other areas, too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started dancing at about the age your DD is now, and due to overcroweded dance classes at public school and overwhelmed teachers, my intitial training was definatly lacking. I didn't start trying to fix my poor technique until about 19 and due to hard work and lots of cross-training, I've made tons of progress in only two years. So to answer your question no, it isn't too late. In fact, its' good that she's spotted these problems now when she's younger which means they'll be easier to fix as oppose to later. Trust me, I know!

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