Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Cambre forward


NataliaK

Recommended Posts

Do you have any advice about how to stretch forward correctly? When I try to really bend at the "hinge" of my hip, I can only feel the stretch in the right part of my hip by focusing on that area, and can only feel the hinge if I relax the upper thighs. However, my instructor says that I should pull up above the knees as much as possible and rotate the upper thighs while I"m bending forward. This seems absolutely impossible. If I do that, then I find that after just a very few inches forward, I"'m bending in the low back more than in the hinge. What am I doing wrong?

Link to comment

After trying this a few times trying to figure out what you're doing, my guess is that you are engaging your buttocks and maybe also your lower back muscles in an effort to pull up above the knees and rotate your upper thighs. Try again and see if you are really releasing the muscles in your derriere and let us know what happens!

Link to comment

Is your teacher Russian or of Vaganova influence by any chance? In the Vaganova program the "hinge" is a bit different than in my American training. The immediate flexiblity in the hip region is not as readily achieved. The lower back will at first, seemingly, be too tight to go down as you might like, but with time, hard work and consistant training it can be done. :)

Link to comment

vrs, could you please elaborate somewhat on that?

It might explain some things I have observed recently.

Only if you have time, of course.

:-)

 

-d-

Link to comment

Yes, I second that request to vrsfanatic!

 

I apologize. I should also have asked for clarification. Are you trying to cambré forward, or hinge? Arching and hinging are really not the same and I realized after I posted that you used cambré in your subject line.

Link to comment

I'm trying to bend forward in first position. (When I do this in parallel, it works fine.) I tried today to see if I could pull up and rotate my thighs while keeping my low back and gluts relaxed. Impossible! I must be doing something wrong. If I'm pulled up and turned out that requires me to engage my gluts. As soon as I start tipping forward, if I keep my gluts engaged the bend is not as much in the hinge as it should be. The only way I can really bend completely at the hinge is to relax my gluts and upper thighs. I can pull my thighs towards each other and eliminate any gap between my legs, but there is no way I can pull up my thighs while I'm bending forward. Maybe I've been stretching the wrong muscles and I'll have to start over.

 

Re cambre vs. hinge, I'm afraid I didn't realize there were two different ways of going forward. My object is to bend at the hinge, and keep my back flat both going down and coming up. Others in class can lay their abdomen flat on their thighs, if they choose to, and wrap their arms around their legs! Are they doing this with pulled up thighs?

Link to comment
The only way I can really bend completely at the hinge is to relax my gluts and upper thighs. I can pull my thighs towards each other and eliminate any gap between my legs, but there is no way I can pull up my thighs while I'm bending forward. Maybe I've been stretching the wrong muscles and I'll have to start over.

 

From pliés on, in class yesterday we were working on upper body port de bras, including grande plié in first & fifth with both contractions forward and full forward port de bras. So I'm trying to remember what I was doing then, and I think what I was doing (and almost getting my nose on my knees) is thinking about pulling out my spine from the top of my head as I go forward, and then at the point of hinging over, thinking about sending the sitz bones up to the ceiling. I keep my knees pulled up (don't know if that's affecting the upper thighs) but keeping the turn out muscles in buttocks engaged.

 

I think (teachers might need to correct me here) that you need to have fairly stretchy or flexible hamstrings. And yes, the effect of forward port de bras for me is the contrast (or the contra-effect) between engaging the inner thighs and buttock muscles to maintain turn out, and stretching out the spine, and getting the stretch forward and over. While maintaining turnout! That sounds complicated!

 

One thing that I do to warn up, is demi-plie in first, nose on knees, hands around the back of my ankles, and then stretch the knees and send the sitz bones to the ceiling. I do this in parallel (feet at a little less than hip width apart) and first position. But the stretching out of the back is always important for me to focus on -- I try to think of a big semi-circle -- my head and torso going out and over.

Link to comment

Just regarding turnout:

 

As far as I know, one need not - indeed, should not - engage all the gluteus muscles to maintain turnout. They are such that, if all taut, they will actually hinder the ability of the leg to turn in the hip socket.

The turnout muscles are smaller, external rotaters, which are lower down (more underneath the buttocks). They can be hard to find and to isolate. :-o

 

 

-d-

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Diane, are you speaking of rotation in general, or in relation to the cambré forward? If speaking in general, I don't know how one can activate the rotators that are deep inside the glutes without activating those muscles. In order to lift up out of the thighs and fully use those muscles that rotate the legs, the glutes, IMO, must be engaged. Of course there is a big difference in "engaging" them and contracting, or overusing, them. Overusing them causes sitting into the legs! :) But, I just don't think you can isolate the top of the thighs/lower buttocks from the rest of the gluteus muscles, and if those muscles are not engaged there is no strength, not only in the rotation but in the ability to be really well placed and up out of the legs enough to be strong on demi pointe or pointe. In fact, I find that my students who do not engage those muscles ususally don't engage many others that are also necessary to stand up properly and rotate their legs to the best of their ability.

 

In thinking about it, this is probably the main reason that students wonder why they look like they have good turnout when they are doing exercises sitting on the floor, but then when they stand up it can be quite different. Without the gravity factor, those muscles don't have to be used, but when you add that factor, and particularly the further away from the floor one goes in changing levels, as in demi pointe and then pointe, then the rotation just does not hold without them. It's not just the rotation that is lost without those muscles, but also the strength to remain up for any length of time, like a balance or especially a pirouette.

 

Now back to the topic of the cambré forward! :devil: When you bend forward and down in parallel, you don't have to think about the top of the legs or the gluteus muscles. However, when bending in a rotated position, without those muscles working you lose the rotation and the knees will relax. Again, they are needed for stability as well as rotation.

Link to comment

Just a quick note...I am keeping up with the thread which has developed some interesting questions. No time to answer

vrs, could you please elaborate somewhat on that?
but I will have more time this evening.

 

However now that NataliaK has clarified the hinge she is trying to achieve, my response is not pertinent. :devil:

Link to comment

Okay, one of my best friends is sitting here with me. She's not a dancer and she doesn't have the range of motion to perform a full port de bras forward so she can't feel all of the working muscles in herself throughout the full range of the movement, but she is a physical therapist and we've just done lots of experimenting with port de bras forward in first, and in first on relevé. If we are talking about hinging at the hip, here is what, from a musculoskeletal standpoint, she can see on me:

 

When you are flexing forward, the muscles in the front of your body will be shortening (or contracting). As a result, the muscles in the back of your legs will automatically have to lengthen (or extend) to allow this to happen. Therefore, if you have tight hamstrings, calves or gluteal muscles, you will have trouble with this. If these muscles are engaged or naturally tight, you will not be able to bend forward. It is possible to use some of your external rotators and not others. To pull up and keep your inner thighs together, you'd be using your adductors (those inner thigh muscles you want to have meet in your center line). To hold your turnout as you hinge and at the bottom of your port de bras, you would continue to use your adductors, relax your gluteus maximus muscles somewhat (they'll still be working eccentrically to keep you from falling forward) and switch the main work to your piriformis, gemelli, and obturators. She's going to ask her coworkers if they have anything to add, but in the meanwhile, her message is: everything is going to be working to help stabilize you as you perform this action, but your glutes do have to relax somewhat.

Link to comment

Wow, thanks! That's very helpful. It sounds as if I should keep the muscles on the front of my thighs engaged, and rotated, try to stretch out the spine as much as possible, and relax the gluts as I tip forward. I'll try!

Link to comment

I'm very aware that turnout comes from the hips, but I've found that the right level of engagement comes from the sensation that the knees are continuously rotating outward as the cambre forward progesses.

 

I have somewhat limited hip flexion and turnout (for a ballet dancer) and *very* hyperextended knees, so this has helped me keep my weight placed correctly.

 

For coming up out of the cambre, I always do a slight "roll", instead of the ramrod straight back. Those cambres often come early in the barre sequence, and I personally feel as though a more natural "rolling up" is safer for the spine. I notice most dancers tend to do this nowadays, anyway.

 

I use my plie and cambre to gently "discover" elastic quality, turnout, and placement.

 

A good visual cue is to stand sideways to the mirror, and make sure your legs do not go backwards when you cambre forward. This helps for hyperextension, but I don't know what your legs/hips are like. Perhaps a bit bowed? You mentioned difficulty keeping thighs together...

Link to comment

Yes, I second all of the above. If your teacher is specifying a straight back, you might want to do a few rolling up in your warmup before class. I especially concur with the first point. I actually find that visualizing and feeling my muscles "wrapping" around to the back all the way up my leg helps me, from my ankles right up to my hips. I hope you find some of this helpful!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

I prefer the roll up too, and always do that one first, although I teach them both ways.

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.

Guest
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...