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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Need help with extentions to the front


Guest allegro dancer

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Guest allegro dancer

My developes and grand battments to the front aren't as high as they are to the side and back. Is there anything I can do to improve this? Thanks.

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Allegro dancer, front is harder for most people! Keep stretching the hamstrings, gently of course. Always best to be warmed up. Forward cambrés are good, and also sitting on floor with legs stretched straight out in front and bending forward. Keep the knees very straight and keep the back straight until the last minute and then pull all the way down. If that is easy, then do it with flexed feet, and you get more stretch.

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Guest Nydancer86

Allegro I have the same problem! You should make sure you are stretched as Ms. Leigh suggested and try to stregthen your thighs everyday because the more muscle you have, the higher the leg, right?? HTH

 

*~!~Rachel~!~*

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No, more muscle does not necessarily make more extension. More stretch and flexibility make more extension. Over developped thigh muscles will hamper the extension, not increase it.

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We've entered the old flexibility/strength paradox here, I think. Flexibility, as Ms. Leigh has said before, is the ability to get the extension to a certain height; strength is the ability to keep it there. While it is true that strong muscles must be developed, it's not always in the places you expect it, especially for extensions en avant. As has been noted, the abdominal and back muscles play a vital part in making a stingy developpé into a great one. But the muscles, while training for strength, should be stretched for the maximum benefit. It's a narrow balance - the build-up and the stretch-out!

 

But a question occurs to me. Is this shortness of extension to the front bilateral? That is, does it occur on both sides about equally? If so, that's not so bad. A little more work along the lines Ms. Leigh proposes will help greatly. If not, then we enter Maestro Cecchetti's "one-legged dancer" syndrome! One must work both sides of the body equally to accomplish equal results! Or at least, ideally. Actually, there is a "leggedness" akin to right- and left- "handedness", but there's no good reason to allow that to stop a dancer from building as good a developpé, or whatever, on one side as on the other.

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OK then, you've got your answer! Please let us know if there's any hitch in the process. It's long and slow, so don't expect overnight miracles, and if you encounter difficulty, say so. (But tell your teacher first!)

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Guest Nadezhda

Just strech and strech and strech even more. And as Mel said: do you want to get the leg high (what I believe is the case) or do you want to hold it there. I think that first you have to take it there and then you repeat it several times and put it down slowly and so you build strength. Is this right?

 

Do any streches, but especially work on your hamstrings as Victoria already said. And do not forget to strech the other muscles too and do the regular class every day if you're not attending a summer intensive. Because I've seen girls who, when they were told, which muscles to strech, streched only those and then they did not even do the class combinations (it was during summer holidays) and when they came to classes in the fall, they could get their legs very high, but they were falling off balance and sinking.

 

So, keep you eye on everything smile.gif

Nadezhda

 

------------------

"The Dancer believes that his art has something to say which cannot be expressed in words or in any other way than by dancing... there are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words. There are movements which impinge upon the nerves with a strength that is incomparable, for movement has power to stir the senses and emotions, unique in itself. This is the dancer's justification for being, and his reason for searching further for deeper aspects of his art."

~Doris Humphrey, 1937

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Guest DancingQueen

I think this might be a bit helpful in building the muscles needed to hold you leg. After you have put ur leg on the barre and don the excercises your teacher tells you to do, never flop your leg down, bring it slowly down-as slow as possible. It helps me a little.

 

------------------

~*~MEAGHAN~*~

"Whatever you feel, just dance it." -Charlie, Center Stage

 

[This message has been edited by DancingQueen (edited July 09, 2000).]

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Very good advice, Nadezhda. One must keep all the muscles working and stretch everything when you are not taking regular daily classes!

 

Once you have the extension, building the strength to hold it there is done mostly by doing exactly that -- holding it! Meaghan's advice about bringing it down slowly from the barre is good, and even better is to LIFT it off of the barre, so that it goes above the barre, and then bring it down slowly! The muscles that hold the leg in front and side extensions tend to develop a bit later, like around 14 to 16 years old, so sometimes even when you have great flexibility, the strength is not there yet to hold the extension. It will come, with work and time smile.gif

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Guest Nydancer86

I know in class we always have to hold it for a little so muscle is very important in that--and as for flexibility...I am basically already flexibal so it's not hard to get the leg up there...its keeping it there!

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Guest Colleen

Just as a side note, that one-legged dancer syndrome is actually perpetuated by the way that dance classes are generally taught. Since in most classes students start each exercise with the left hand on the barre, that means that exercises are learned and performed first with the right leg. And since most people are right-handed, their right leg will learn quicker and develop easier than their left. If one had to learn the exercise on the non-dominant side (usually the left) then both legs would more often than not be of equal strength. All it would take would be for more teachers to know this and alternate classes where everything started to left some days and to the right some days. smile.gif

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Colleen, this is so true! We actually had a discussion about this, but it was quite a long time ago. The general feeling was that we all need to do much more starting on the left. I agree, and plead guilty to not remembering to do it at the barre. I do, however, do it often in the center. But it would be better to switch around at the barre very frequently.

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  • 2 years later...

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