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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Splits with Hips Totally Square


gerlonda

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Okay, so I've been looking at alot of yoga books and it seems as if those people who are REALLY working their flexibility correctly do the splits with their hips totally square and with the back leg totally parallel (knee to the floor and upper thigh all the way on the floor). One of my ballet teachers also said that this is the PROPER way to do the splits. Okay, that's all fine and dandy but what does this mean if my hips can't do this? Whenever I stretch into the splits my pelvis always twists out and the back leg turns out and for the life of me I just can't get my hips square (they start to turn as soon as I start going down into the splits).

The truly flexible people can do the splits with the back leg turned in AND out, right?

Because of this lack of hip flexibility do you all think that's why my teachers tell me that my hips are never still when I do rond de jambes a terre? or whenever I go from retire to attitude back to arabesque my teachers always say, "Gerlonda, keep the hips square it's about the LEG moving only!"? or the fact that I can't keep my hips/body square while standing in fourth position?

This is driving me crazy! Should I stretch more often?

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I was never able to do a split with totally square hips (a split is honestly not really necessary for ballet) and I trained to quite a high level--no problems with a square pelvis during rond de jambe à terre or with the leg raised to the back at 45º. You may wish to try stretching the front of your hip (the psoas?) although the way I achieved stability was just by concentrating very hard on it during class. If possible, watch what your hips do during the aforementioned movements in the mirror, and try to make them stay perfectly still, as if they are made of concrete or stone and cannot move (until you raise your leg above 45º of course--then the working hip will have to open a little). Also concentrate very hard on maintaining the turnout at the top of the supporting thigh.

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gerlonda, splits with the hips square is NOT the proper way to do it, NOR is it correct to keep them square in going to an arabesque or attitude if it is, as Hans said, above 45 degrees. And perhaps even lower than that for some people. Basically, it is physiologically impossible to keep the hips square and do a turned out arabesque position. There is something in the way...called the buttocks! :wink: Seriously, even people with very small derrièrs will still need to open the hip in order to achieve a rotated position. :wink: So, doing the splits, which is a stretch for arabesque, seems logical to do them with the hip open just enough to rotate the back leg. The front leg should also be rotated.

 

Yoga and other exercises done by people who are not ballet dancers are generally not concerned with line and rotation, only flexibility.

 

As to moving your hips during rond de jambe à terre, that is a no no. :o

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May I ask a dumb question then? When you are doing a split, do you keep the front leg's knee pointing straight toward the ceiling and the back leg turned out? I have always done it this way but have also heard that the "correct" way to do it is to keep the hind knee pointing straight at the floor. Now Miss Leigh is saying that the front leg should also be rotated -- meaning, turned out, right? I'm lost! :wink:

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Ideally, yes, the front leg should be rotated in the hipjoint, but let's remember, we're talking about splits, which are not actual classical steps, but stretches. Yes, there is a French name for them, grands ecarts, but there's also a French name for the jambe à la main stretch, too. You don't see them used in classical choreography except as character elements, as in "Gaité Parisienne". So, how to do them correctly? My criterion would be getting a stretch that reinforces a classical line.

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If the front part of your hips are tight in general should you try working your splits with the back knee to the floor to try to stretch your hip joints in general i.e. not going for the classical line in hopes of increasing your range of motion?

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No.

 

Ballet is complicated enough. Don't make it more so by adding parameters which don't achieve a classical goal. There isn't enough time, especially for adult students. Students have to be restrained from "doodling", which, like its visual counterpart, is probably harmless, but essentially fruitless.

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No.

 

Ballet is complicated enough. Don't make it more so by adding parameters which don't achieve a classical goal. There isn't enough time, especially for adult students. Students have to be restrained from "doodling", which, like its visual counterpart, is probably harmless, but essentially fruitless.

 

I can start a new thread for this, if it's more appropriate, but I'm curious - are there specific things which adult students are unlikely to achieve given when they started? And also, are there specific examples of 'balletic doodling' which should be avoided since they're unnecessary (i.e. the preoccupation with the splits)?

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You can live without the preoccupation with splits at any time during your student career. They are not ends in themselves. The rule for avoiding "doodling" is basically Occam's Razor. Entities ought not to be multiplied except out of necessity. Put another way, when contemplating competing solutions and means, the simplest one is usually the correct one.

 

Of course, there is the danger of oversimplification, but Albert Einstein thought of that when he advised that "Answers should be as simple as possible, but no simpler."

 

There are also Anti-Razors, which truly postulate that if you have three possible ways to do things and none of them works, then you have to invent a fourth, and so on.

 

None of these things are things that can be imposed upon the thinking adult student by an outside source, but it's up to the adult to evaluate what works and what doesn't for them. Ballet isn't a standard-transmission automobile. There is no clutch to engage which will invariably cause the same result, no matter who's driving.

 

But back to the duck test for Occam: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck." If it doesn't look, etc. like classical ballet, it isn't. Probably best to leave it alone.

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Ok, my back leg is always turned out but I'm confused with the front leg now. I was taught that the front leg should have the knee facing upwards. Major Mel said the front leg should also be turned out. So let's say my left leg is in front.......should my knee be facing up or should it be rotated towards the outside of the body?

 

WM

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The split should go from 4th position, therefore, the legs would be rotated when starting the split, and, IMO, should remain that way. :(

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What about the shoulders? Do they have to be square? I mean, as a result that splits are there to help for arabesques and things, then the shoulders have to be square, isn't it?

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Yes, they should be. Start by standing in 4th position and then maintain that, or try to. :)

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The split should go from 4th position, therefore, the legs would be rotated when starting the split, and, IMO, should remain that way. :yes:

 

 

Whooooooaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!! That REALLY stretches the outter-under-side of the front knee! Is that right?

 

 

:wink:

WM

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