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Bone calcification in teen dancers?


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I did several searches to see if I could get somewhat of an answer, but didn't come up with anything, so here goes! =]


I'm not looking for anyone to tell me whether or not I have a chance at a professional career; I know that it can only be told by seeing one dance. Here's the thing: I have heard several opinions on this, and all of them are different, so I'm looking to find what the middle ground/what most think is. I'll explain my personal situation to help add context to the question.


I'm 16 (17 at the end of this month), and I started ballet at 3. I took at a very good, well reputed, school until I was 13. I moved an hour away at the age of 10 and continued to take, but when I hit high school the commute and stress of high school (I started at age 12, due to skipping a year) were too much for me, and I was constantly sick. Around my freshman year, I stopped. So this past summer I returned to ballet after graduating, at the age of 16. I went back to one of two of my old studios (they're sisters in a way) and took classes to get back into it. I then went back to my old school to take a placement class. I deferred a year of college with a full scholarship so I could intensively train in ballet. Anyway, at this placement class, or rather, after, I was informed that I had beautiful lines and a beautiful body/feet, but that I would never be a pro, nor could I ever make up those three years--that I wasn't where I needed to be physically for my age. It was hard and all, but anyway, I went to my other teacher and asked what it was that I missed, and that "couldn't" be made up, and what was meant. She explained that the hip socket, essentially--although she named a very specific part I cannot remember--calcifies/sets in the years that I missed. Such that I would never be able to get back my turnout or gain that miracle ballerina extension. But she also told me to not give up my dream, and that I am still young.


So a month later I had gone to both a primary doctor, and a sports injury/orthopod due to a minor, unrelated injury, and asked them. The primary m.d. said that things set at the age of 11--when I was still training extensively in ballet; the orthopod told me that what the other teacher said was, well, wrong (although he used a more profane term ;)). He said that I didn't "lose" any of the natural turnout I had from before, that no one has 90 degree natural turnout or extension to their ears, that it comes from work. And since I'm still young and actually with the developmental body of a 14-15 year old, I can make it up with just work.


Sorry for the wall of text there! But I'm just curious as to others opinions as to whether or not anything "sets" in the bones/joints in the early-mid adolescent years that would severely hinder or prevent altogether, the traits that make one able to perform at a professional level in ballet?

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I'm with the orthopod - aw, horsepuckey! :)


I can't think of anything that ossification would stop in the extension department until maybe about age 25. And maybe not even then. It's more a matter of the soft tissues - ligaments, tendons, muscles, heck, even nerves and blood vessels - staying pliant and well-toned. I had some belly surgery done about four years ago, and some of the doctors were asking me afterward about what I did with my muscles. I told them I was a ballet teacher and a professional dancer. I don't know how many of them smacked the palm of their hand against their forehead, but it was more than a couple. "That would do it!" :) "Your abdominals aren't typical of what we see in 54-year-old men. More like thirty, maybe. Nice and flexible, easy to retract; it gave us lots of room to work."

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Thanks for the reply! That's what I was thinking--I've seen many girls older than me (one in her 20s) drastically improve their extension and turnout. Bah humbug! =]


But of course, doctors tend to smack their foreheads at those in ballet a lot; one thing that certainly never goes away with age are reflexes--I scared the nurse when my leg popped right out!


Thanks again for the opinion; it's sometimes hard to figure out whether the dance teacher or the doctor knows more about the situation. In this case, I go with the doctor.

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