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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Turnout, flexibility, extension, strength


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DD will be 13 in a few weeks, is dancing six days a week, has a fairly mature body even at x lbs, and has been en pointe for 1.5 years, so I'm switching (albeit somewhat prematurely) to the Parents of 13+ forum. Moderators, feel free to scold me if I've overstepped a boundary. (I'm encouraging DD to get her own account when she returns from her SI and is officially 13 <a transition I will miss :pinch: >)


I've reviewed many posts about turnout and flexibility and I've read here and there about extension. My question now is how do they relate? If one is flexible, does one automatically have good extension? If one has strength but not great turnout, is one doomed to fall behind? People speak of the "ballet facility," but what is that exactly (aside from musicality and the place where one dances--to preempt a Major Mel joke)? How critical is "natural flexibility" and can one compensate with the right training? DD seems strong, but her extension is still only creeping up. Many of the girls who are less strong but naturally flexible seem to raise their leg effortlessly, even with hips down.


Sorry if all these questions seem obvious, but I don't exactly understand the connection, even though I've really tried study it through the volume of useful posts.

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Nancy, the "ideal" ballet body would include all of the things you mention, plus a few. However, if only the "natural" ballet bodies were trained, I think we would have very little need for all the schools we have in this country, or the world! Yes, you hope for as much of it as possible, and then work like mad to obtain the rest.


Having flexibility does not guarantee great extension or line, because without rotation there is no line, and therefore no matter how high the leg, it is still not in a balletic line unless it is rotated.


Having good turnout is useless unless one learns to USE it, and also gains the strength to maintain it. This takes time. Years, not days, weeks or months.


Girls your daughters age are not expected to be working at full extension yet. First they have to develop the placement, the rotation, the strength to maintain the rotation, and the flexiility needed for extension. This takes time. Years.


There are always exceptions, phenoms, but they are very, very rare. Lots of little kids can get their legs up high because they have natural flexibility, but is it rotated, is the foot articulate, and can they hold it in this rotated articulated position? Generally not, often until they have reached their full growth.


I really believe this belongs on Parents of Dancers Under 13, mainly because the overs have probably already learned this, or should have. :pinch:

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Miss Leigh - I have printed out your response and will show it to some of my 12 - 15 year old pupils. I am constantly battling to make them really believe that rotation and line come before height. Perhaps this will help convince them!

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my daughter is 11 years old. She has a little bit too much turn-out (over 180 degrees) and too flexible. She is also very strong. Right now she is dancing with sixteen year olds so we would like to build up her strength to move her into a more professional school. :D do any of you know some good ways the achieve muscle strength? she is also on pointe right now but i think she is doing fine. i love her very much :shrug:

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Hello my daughter is pro, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers.


I think that you just need to be a little patient. The strength will come through the work, in time. It takes longer sometimes with very flexible children, but 11 is still very young. :shrug: By the way, she does not need to be super strong at 11 to attend a professional school. The correct work and amount of work at her own level will build the strength in fine fashion. This would be highly recommended sooner rather than later.

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hello victoria leigh,

thank you very much for all of your input i really appreciate it :yawn: . my daughter is entering into dance competitions right now into all kinds of dance. it is just great! :wub: i just want to make sure that it is not bad to force your splits because i am worried that my daughter will strain a muscle or something. her teacher is just forcing her to get them flat! it this good? :rolleyes: it is true that you were a former dance teacher as well? thanks agian :D

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Forcing anything is not good. Splits are just a stretch for flexibility and extension. You said your daughter was very flexible, however, if she cannot go all the way down, there is some tightness somewhere, and that can be worked on but NEVER forced.


I am a ballet teacher, but I am a former professional dancer. My bio is here: http://www.balletalert.com/housekeeping/bi...toriaLeigh.html It has not been updated this year, but I am no longer at WSB. I retired last Aug. and now teach in the Atlanta area.

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I wonder if the children in this under 13 age group are capable of this type of stretching (whether they have enough gross motor control). I would be interested to hear about kids who can do this.

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pardon :shrug: but what are PNF stretches? i know quite a bit about this stuff, but you can never know too much right? :blink: also my daughters school does quite a bit of forcing, should we get her out of there because were quite content with the school.

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This type of stretching, in my opinion, should only be done under the careful eye of a PT.


momofpro, you and your family will have to make your own decisions about your daughter's training. We have a wealth of information on this board in relation to classical ballet training, and your best bet is to read alot, and decide for yourself what is best for your daughter.


Most of us here would shudder at the thought of children's bodies being forced into rotated positions, and otherwise unhealthfully manipulated, simply because it is not necessary to force turnout etc. to create a classical ballet dancer, and is in fact quite counter-intuitive to producing true classical technique.

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ah, a fellow ohioan! thanks for your input, we just dont know what to do though :P frankly, from hearing all this i feel it would be best to get her out of there then, injury is not an option for us. i want her to continue dancing and competing. do you think that the chances of injury are very high as there is quite a bit of forcing going on? even at her age? i suppose i will talk to dd and together we can figure something out. i want to do my best to foster her love for all kinds of dance.

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I think just because you change studios doesnt mean that injuries aren't going to happen. Many dance students get injured regardless of the quality of training, it just happens. But if you feel your DD is at risk for more injuries in her current school it is time to reevaluate the situation.

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