Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Long body & hyperextension

Striving for Grace

Recommended Posts

One of my teachers makes a comment at least once per class about my body shape. The first time she met me she also said "I can see immediately that you are hyperextended". She also comments frequently on my long this or that (long torso, long back, long legs, long achilles, long arms). Despite the fact that I'm only 5'6", I'm quite sure she'll continue to find other body parts of mine that she can describe as being long :unsure:


So my question is this: Is it bad to be "long" and "hyperextended" in the context of ballet? I can't read her tone when she says these things about me, so I don't know whether it's a criticism, a good thing, or simply neutral. If it is bad, does anyone have any suggestions for how to make myself appear to be less long? :crying::angry:





Link to comment
  • Administrators

Length is a good thing in ballet :) Sometimes it takes that kind of body a bit longer to gain strength, but it usually has more flexibility than the more compact body. The only thing not good is if the torso is longer and the legs shorter. If the legs are longer, or, if they are well balanced, it should be fine. Hyperextension is also good, but also just harder to learn to control. Takes time. And a lot of patience and perseverance!

Link to comment

Thank you for your reply, Ms. Leigh! :)


I thought long legs were good but a long back/long torso/long anything else was less than ideal. Thank you for the clarification... now I can concentrate fully on dancing instead of puzzling over my proportions! :):thumbsup:


I do still have one question, however... with series of quick, small jumps, like jete, glissade, changement etc., if one has long achilles tendons and therefore deep "elastic" demi plies, should one attempt to use one's "true" demi-plie (plie deeply but quickly) or is it preferable to simply do a smaller demi? :shrug: (I hope that makes sense!) I find it quite difficult to jump quickly (I'm not "on" the music) if I do my "true" demi, probably because I jump higher when I do. I've always wondered about this- if my question makes sense, I would very much appreciate your reply :)


Thanks again!



Link to comment
  • Administrators

Sometimes petit allegro is very fast, which would make the use of a very deep demi plié quite impossible. It's important to learn to use only what is needed.

Link to comment

Striving for Grace,


Your body sounds a lot like mine. I am pretty well-proportioned, but I do have a very long spine because I have a long neck and long pelvis. It takes a lot to hold it together while lengthening it. I recently have been learning about some of Deborah Vogel's stuff, and it has helped me immensely with the alignment of my spine. I have spent so much time trying to strengthen my abs to reduce my sway back, not realizing that a major cause of my sway back was a tight psoas (from years of running). My abs and psoas were basically at war with each other, making me work much harder than I should for good alignment. I have been stretching my psoas religiously since learning about its role in alignment, and my weight placement and alignment has improved quickly and immensely. It takes a lot less abdominal strength to maintain alignment of my long spine when my body isn't fighting against itself, and it is just so much easier to move and feel grounded!


Like you, I also have very long achilles tendons with, what my teacher calls "high calf muscles." However, although they are long, they are actually pretty tight, which is why I think I can jump high. It has taken me a while to realize that jumping high isn't always the point of allegro, even though it is so much fun. Dance is always about the music. You can look like you are jumping high by getting to a fully stretched position quickly and showing it in the air without necessarily jumping high. Everyone has their own way of talking to themselves, but I always say "Plee-straight, Plee-straight," accent on the "straight", to help me get to the position quickly and cleanly. With respect to the demi-plie thing in fast music, more than thinking about how much I am bending my knees, I think more about getting the entire heel on the floor in the "Plee." I specifically think about really feeling the floor with the part of my heel closest to my arch and toes, the front part, when landing. It is hard to not bend your knees when you do this. If I really do that, I tend to plie enough to not injure myself while staying with the music in fast music, if it is a combination close enough to my skill level.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...