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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A question of balance


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As i progress slowly into this interesting new world, there is one lingering doubt in my mind.


Is a natural balance required to progress or is this something that is aquired?


I am not perhaps someone who is naturally that way. Ice skating and roller skating have always been complete non starters for me!


Part of my desire to learn ballet is to improve posture and composure. I am not looking to dance the lead role in Swan lake at any time soon and am quite happy to use and enjoy to a certain level. But I wonder if my perceived shortcoming here is a factor?

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I have poor balance too.


No matter how bad your balance is, it will improve with practice. However, it is unlikely to get to ever the level of someone who is both naturally gifted AND who practices. But I suggest that if you keep trying, you will get enough balance for what you want to do.


Actually, while typing this, I wondered, WHAT exactly is balance? Many many factors come into it, and one major factor is strength, i.e. core strength and strength in feet and legs (so that you hold a position stably). These can be worked on. Another factor is general reflexivity - whether you are "well coordinated" and move rapidly when necessary, or not - though you cant affect your natural endowment, you can improve a lot with practice.


This is assuming that you dont have a disease of the inner ear, which I presume you dont.


There are a posts on this board from adults who have said, e.g., "I used to have lousy turns, worst in the class, but I worked on them, and now they're my strong point" (paraphrased).



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Clive, if I may offer my thoughts on balance ... (I am a teacher who happens to have quite a few adult-students - many older first-starters)


It also seems to help to try to find your alignment - that somewhat elusive line-up of the bones which helps you to stand up straight with a minimum of tension.

Strength will help greatly here, but ideally will not be the sole thing keeping you up. :)


You will find this with time; but it does take time. :)


Another thing you could do is to practice standing still (first on two legs and then on one) with your eyes closed - at home, in a place where you will not hurt yourself if you start to fall over a bit. (you may open your eyes before you fall completely!)

This trains the muscle-memory quite well, and will help in "normal" balancing, too. (but, it can be rather un-nerving and a bit discouraging at first; don't worry)



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Yes, Clive. I second what Diane is saying. Instead of saying balance can be learnt, I like to say that you can find your balance. We all have balancing points -- ways our bodies can be arranged in which they can balance without much effort at all. Sadly, these balancing points can be elusive, but that's what we're doing when we attempt to balance -- looking for them. We try, fail, tweak a little, and get closer each time we make the attempt. (Unless we are members of the privileged few who just find their balance every time...a rare group indeed, but fascinating to observe.)

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I am only a beginner myself, so I can't really give advise, but I can share with you what helped me in the past: I found that when my pelvis is above my feet, and stays there, this helps me find my balance - and it helps me find my balance from the inside out instead of the other way around, which somehow was what I was always trying to do, if that makes sense (actually it doesn't really, but I had to realise that first). I think the 'pelvis above your feet' thing is not a strict rule, it should have more to do with where your center is in relationship to where gravity leads you (the floor, on this planet, in normal buildings :thumbsup: ). I want to take some contact improvisation classes soon, and they're said to be great for balance too, because they 'play' a lot with balance, falling, weight sharing etc. I have found it helpful too, to explore the feeling of falling and the point where you're just not falling over (bruises may result from this, so be careful to choose a good place for it). And, as I said, I'm still learning (can't do a pirouette and stand still, I drop halfway, but hey, I've never had the chance to learn it properly yet). Well, hope this helps a bit. :)

Edited by Rhoda M
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Standing on one leg, foot flat, EYES CLOSED: I could do a passé (or tree position if yoga) and hold it for as long as I could. Then giving myself a break, I could do a coupé, again holding it for as long as I could. Repeat by alternating the standing leg.


By closing my eyes, I am 'depriving' myself of sight, which my body is so accustomed to using for balance. In this way, my body is 'forced' to rely on its inner sense of balance to keep me upright, although my legs are wobblier compared to when I have my eyes open (but that should improve with PRACTICE).


EYES OPEN: Starting with both legs flat, tendu and quickly slide front (chassé) with the right foot followed by the left leg, closing it in 5th position on demi-pointe. Hold this position for as long as I could. Then both feet go flat. Degagé the right leg to the side and quickly slide rightwards followed by the leg leg, again in demi-pointe, closing in 5th position with the right leg in the back. Hold. Then both feet go flat. Do the tendu to the back with the right leg leading backwards and ending in 5th position sousou with the left leg in front.


Repeat the above combination using the left leg to do the tendu and degagé.


By doing these directional changes with minimal or no lurching jerks, my bones and muscles are trained to line up themselves in one vertical line, and by doing the holds, strength is developed. Again, easier said than done, but is definitely improvable with PRACTICE.

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The Tree position is great for balance, I think. When I first did it in a beginners yoga class, the teacher was surprised by my balance (I have developed some balance during the times that I could take ballet classes) - but I wasn't at all satisfied, as I was shifting my weight all the time, with little movements of my standing foot, so I didn't quite feel like I had found my balance! I'll be working on that one, thanks for reminding me! :yucky:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Balance has moved higher up on my list of things I'd like to work on, and I appreciate the suggestions made in this thread. I hate feeling wobbly during adagio.

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My shins hurt when doing the tree pose in a yoga class. My balance was fine, but for some reason, it hurt my shin on the standing leg and I had to stop and rest it for a bit. I wonder why???


I am a beginner to Yoga. Wonder if anyone here more experienced would know why I felt a shin splint-type pain. Retire in ballet class does not bother me at all, and I never have shin splint issues in ballet.

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