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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Alignment


Treefrog

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So, I was reading Clara 76's excellent sticky on alignment, and I have a few further questions.

 

Her description prompted me to search for a picture of a skeleton (I'm a really visual thinker). I found this one, which has the added advantage of showing in the attached cartoon how the ankles, knees, shoulders, and hips line up.

 

But ... the more I looked at it, the more troubled I was. Wouldn't the weight be really far back on the heels? At least, I find that I have to lean a bit forward to keep weight distributed evenly across my heels and metatarsals. (No doubt this is less of an issue for someone of lesser bulk.) This concept was reinforced by a second photo, which shows that when a skeleton is hung and allowed to dangle -- and thus find its own balance -- the ankles indeed fall behind the knees, which appear to be very slightly behind the hips (which do line up with the shoulders).

 

My brilliant daughter solved part of the problem for me. "That's where turnout comes in," she pointed out. When you dance, (ideally) the toes aren't pointing forward as in the skeleton, but out to the side. (Although, now I think about it more, I'm even more troubled. At least when the feet are in parallel, the skeleton can compensate by leaning forward. In first position, the weight/force would seem to go straight through the heels? How do you distribute it evenly across the feet?) Aha, THAT problem is solved by inventing fifth position, which brings the center of balance right back to the middle.

 

So here's the conundrum I'm left with: I learn from Clara 76's sticky (and other sources) that one can't achieve good rotation unless the body is well aligned. But ... my amateur analysis suggests that good alignment cannot be achieved without first having good rotation. This all says to me that the slim, narrow-hipped 'ideal dancer's body' is something of a requirement, not just an aesthetic. And that probably small feet -- or at least, not large feet -- are also an advantage.

 

And what I really want to know is ... where does that leave us unflexible, wide-hipped, large footed bodies? Without the rotation, how do we align our bodies well? And how do we achieve good rotation if we can't achieve good alignment? Or is my perception of physics and anatomy totally flawed?

 

Thanks for any light you can shed, as I really prefer to remain hopeful about this.

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Treefrog, working with "Mr. Bones" is often a good thing to do, but he leaves off a good many things that affect balance, placement and alignment. He has no muscle mass, no circulatory system, no guts! Your daughter is right, turnout helps. Any rotation you have is helpful, not necessarily the 180° for the advanced dancer or professional. Keep working toward it, and it will improve. A serious adult student can still make real inroads to improving alignment and technique, but remember, it's more than the bones! :green:

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What a great answer Major Johnson. I will definitely use it in my classes! :green:

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Couldn't have said it better myself!

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