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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Distributing weight


LaMusicienne

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I've a problem with finding where to place my weight. I sit on my heels a lot during first and fifth positions and also during passe/retire. It doesn't feel right and could be because I'm trying to hold (and possibly force :) ) a turnout. Is the weight supposed to be toward the front always, like on the toes, or does it change depending on position?

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That varies a bit, depending on method of training. I believe that the weight needs to be distributed from the heel through the toes, but that the majority of the weight needs to be forward, and not settled in the heel. The heel is ON the floor, but the metarsals carry more weight, which makes you ready to move at all times in a more efficient manner.

If the weight is too far in the heels, not only does that cause sitting in the legs, but it is also inefficient for movement, as it will require two moves to make one move. :)

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If the weight is too far in the heels, not only does that cause sitting in the legs, but it is also inefficient for movement, as it will require two moves to make one move. :)

 

Can you explain that, Ms. Leigh?

 

So, does the mechanism in which you place the weight forward involve lifting upward from the abs? And speaking of the abdominals.... I can't figure out for the life of me how they control turnout. Don't abs contract inward, not outward in rotation?

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Most movement is forward. If you are sitting in your heels, it takes a forward movement of the weight before you can actually move forward. If you are already more forward, you just go. Much more efficient.

 

The abdominals don't control the rotation, but, if they are not used, none of the other muscles are used either, and then there is no alignment, placement of weight, or rotation.

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Ms. Leigh, this reminds me of a question I have, also. I was always trained to have my weight quite forward and over the ball of the foot. Recently, while guesting for a ballet school Nutcracker, I took a warm-up class with the students from the school. Afterwards, the teacher asked if I had been Balanchine trained because she thought I was too far forward-- not enough weight in the heels!

 

I was very surprised. I have had some Balanchine teachers--but for only part of my training. I know that my heels should be (and are!) on the floor, especially when landing from jumps. My question is, is this simply a stylistic difference--as in, this teacher didn't particularly care for Balanchine style-- or is there any risk of injury by working with weight well over the metatarsals?

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With the weight placed that far forward, the connective tissues at the front of the ankle and over the instep will not release completely, and it will give you a skimpy plié, as well as produce unnecessary stress on the Achilles' tendon and the attachments thereto.

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While there has to be some weight in the heel area in demi plié, and even when standing still, if there is too much it creates a large problem in terms of efficient movement. The heels should be ON the floor, but the body weight ready to move, whether it is forward or upward!

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Thanks for your help and prompt responses! I did work with a physical therapist a few years ago to learn not to grip the front of the ankle, which definitely increased my plie and stability. I believe I'm working more correctly and healthfully now, but that just gave me even more encouragement!

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That's the right stuff! Keep at it! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have a guest teacher at our school this week and one comment he made to me was that I move my hips when I do certain things. I know one isn't supposed to hula or anything, but I thought one was supposed to shift one's weight over the supporting leg. He had me tendu side without shifting or anything and my weight was completely on my heel and I felt about ready to fall over. Is there a way to keep one's hips in the same position when one is on two feet when one moves to one foot? If so, how does one keep the weight off one's heals? Are there different ideas on this within different techniques?

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If it can be done, I don't know how to do it! :) When you don't move your weight when you transfer from standing on two feet to one foot, it's like you think you have third leg in the middle of your body to stand on. :unsure: Doesn't make any sense to me at all. I believe that the body weight needs to move over the standing leg, but it is a very slight movement, and the hips don't move, the whole body moves. But the movement is subtle, not drastic.

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Umm, I think maybe you misread that post. There IS NO third leg and visualizing one will only keep you off balance and in your heel. :wink:

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Oh, sorry. :sleeping: I thought you meant that the theory is that you have a third leg. I didn't really get it, so now it makes more sense. In class today, I just tried to not move my torso as far over on top of my supporting leg and I was able to get some of the weight off my heel. I don't know if I was doing it right or if he just gave up on me :wink: . Hopefully someone will be able to asses how I am standing and explain it more clearly this summer at my intensive (our guest teacher is from Russia, so there is a bit of confusion there).

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