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releve with the leg in passe

je danse dans ma tete

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I have extremely weak ankles from numerous bad sprains, breaks, tendon issues, general loose jointedness etc. I have been through tons of physio.


One of my teachers makes us do a center exercise where we do 16 releves on one leg with the other leg held in passe. Despite my sore and weak ankles, I am one of the strongest dancers in my level techically and expressively in all other exercises, but this one gets me... I physically cannot do more than two (and even those 2 are shaky!). The teacher will not take 'I can't' for an answer and always makes me stand in front center for this exercise, almost like a punishment. I find it disheartening because everybody else is springing up and seems to find it easy- tiring but achievable- and I am struggling to get up.


I really want to get this exercise solidified but I don't know what I could be doing outside of class to help.My calves are ver strong and I am afraid of building more calf muscle, so I try to stay away from excessive releves and eleves, but will do it if that's what it takes.


Does anyone have any suggestions on how to build the ankle strength necessary for this exercise? Thanks in advance! Laur.

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How about using a theraband to help strengthen the ankles? I have had a badly broken ankle and now am dealing with a minor sprain on the allegedly "good" one. Using the theraband has really strengthened both of them.


Also, what about doing releves at the barre for a while (or in the kitchen, at home, rather)? The only way to get stronger is to keep on doing it, I believe. I'm sure a mod will have more suggestions, though.


I go to the gym and use the quad machine for my ankles, rather than for the quads. That's the one where you push and the chair goes back, and you can change the weights. I do 20 pushes with both feet, then 20 with each foot, on the same weight. No, I can't do the single foot ones all in one go, but I do give it the good ole college try. :-)


My calf muscles are quite strong now, but not bulky.


As well, you might want to check how you're pulling up your overall weight. If it's that tiring, you could be sitting in the hip when you try to releve, which makes it MUCH harder to releve.


As I said, I'm sure there'll be others around with more info and suggestions.

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I would suggest evaluating your placement, as Serendipity suggests. For me, I've found that when I roll off pointe during a pirouette or something, it's normally because I'm WAY off my hip. It takes that much more effort to get up onto pointe if you're not simply going straight up and down.


Keep at it. It'll come:)

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You can do exercises (a theraband might be the best idea) like the previous posts suggest to build strength, but you should listen to your body as well. Sometimes, repetition that, for you, might be extreme (sixteen releves in passe? ) perhaps might not be in your best interest until you have the necessary strength. When I was taking an adult class (I was in my early 50's) I really hurt my knee doing almost exactly the same thing (I really didn't care much for this class/teacher, but it was the only class available to me at the time :D ). In this instance regarding me, I was not listening to my body and demanding more of it than it could handle at that time. Perhaps you might speak about your concerns with your teacher...

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Well, I'll add a reply to bump this up because I had hoped that a teacher or med mod would reply...


It sounds as though something is not adding up here. You say that you have strong calves, but cant do more than 2 releves unsupported. So getting more strength in the calves is probably not the issue - even if it's compensating for weakness elsewhere. Maybe the soreness in the ankle is stopping you from using your full strength, but however it is happening, it seems to my uninformed mind that there are issues here that should be addressed separately (e.g. other ankle strengthening/stability exercises, or something to relieve irritation/inflammation maybe). Just speaking as someone who has ongoing ankle problems, which need a bit of TLC.



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Have you considered wearing an elastic ankle support? If you are strong apart from your ankle problems, that might help you. I think the main thing though is to keep the body pulled well up and to think that the accent is up all the time. Doing a series of releves you must remember that the fondu (like plie) is not a position to stop in, but something to move through in order to go up again. It's a good preparation for fouettes, but as someone suggested, it might be overtaxing you if you have problems.

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One other thing, and more than likely you're already doing this, but make sure you're coming down fully - into a nice deep plié so that you can fully spring back up to relevé, this should help take some of the strain off the ankle

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Actually, it's the quality of the plié, rather than the depth, that matters. Putting the heel down is important, but the plié for consecutive relevé should really not be very deep because it will stop too much. A more shallow plié is probably better in terms of helping the body to maintain the resistance and upward feeling of the plié.


I had not answered on this one because I too, like Jim Pickles, was confused and felt that something was not adding up, as he said. Where is the weakness? Is it the ankles, or is it the knees, or is it because there is no resistance and the feeling of the plié is down instead of up? I don't think we can answer this without seeing the dancer. If there is a lack of muscle strength almost anywhere in the body, one foot consecutive relevés will be a major problem, because that lack of strength would affect the alignment and weight placement.


Je danse, let me ask one question. How strong are your one foot temps levés and can you do more than one consecutively?

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I sort of skimmed over the word "sore" in the original post and didn't see it. I have similar issues not at all related to strength. My problem IS the soreness, so consecutive releves aren't tiring but they do hurt, which makes it FEEL like they are tiring.


If you have sore ankles, there might be something else to look at. If they are simply weak (and sore from being weak), then the theraband is a great workout for strengthening them. I had months and months of PT for my broken ankle (I think I mentioned it above) and now the previously broken ankle is stronger than the other one - and doesn't get nearly as sore, either. The major component of the PT was using therabands of varying, progressive strengths.


I bought the book "Conditioning for Dance" and absolutely LOVE the theraband exercises they have in it. Might be worth looking at.

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Actually, jimpickles, I am a teacher...I think what bothers me most about the initial post and why I responded at all is je danse dans ma tetes' description of her teacher's insensitivity to her emotional and physical apprehension in executing these releves. What's up with that? I really detest bad teaching, and this just didn't seem like a description of a supportive teacher in my opinion...Like Clara 76 spoke of in another thread on this forum, where's the joy? By the way, I loved her reminder! It's what I stress more than anything in my teaching. It is the common thread that binds all ballet dancers, be they young students, adult students, or professional dancers.

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Hi everyone, and thank you for the replies :)


To clarify my original post, the following might help. Maybe I oversold my overall abilities?


-Ms. leigh, I can do several one foot temps leves in a row with no problems. Same with petit jete. My teacher also says I have nice ballon on all jumps. I struggle consistently with one footed balances on a rise in every single position (hardly ever get them except with the working foot in coupe for some reason) and sometimes I even struggle in sous-sus. In pirouettes I am afraid to get around twice because I feel the wobbly ankles, and I can never end them in releve passe, I always come down into the plie as soon as the turn is over and end it there.


-In balances and turns (even at the barre) I often don't go as high as I can in the releve because lower feels more stable/safe


-I have what my teacher calls 'an unusually deep demi plie'- long achilles tendons.


-Despite lots of physio and theraband work I roll over on my ankles on a daily basis even in flat street shoes. My physiotherapist said he is done with me (no more he can do)... Maybe I am not doing enough or the right type of theraband work?


-I feel fatigue and soreness in this exercise. I get up for a few but my ankles wobble badly and I am terrified that I am going to supinate and end up spraining or breaking them again! So there is also a great deal of emotional or psychological involvement.


-If we go slower I can do maybe 4 or 5 without a break but when we go quickly and really have to snatch up onto that one foot I have more difficulty.


-Gina Ness: I do not think my teacher is insensitive, but rather extremely demanding. She keeps talking about pointe with me (I don't necessarily want to get there, I just want to be as good at ballet as I can possibly be and know that may not include pointework) and I think because I have taken so well to ballet in such a short time, she gets frustrated with me when I say I can't do something, because she wants to help me get to a certain level. She keeps saying 'you can't do it now, but you have to keep working at it or you never will be able to do it.' I know that my body and mental focus are pretty good for the study of ballet, but realistically I also know that I am a 20-something who started to dance a mere 2 years ago for 2-4 hours a week, and I cannot expect the world of myself. My teacher is not the 'kindest' teacher on the planet- she is firm, strict, and sometimes plain mean... but she knows her stuff and I respect her teaching. Also, she said when she made me do it over by myself that she has had many ankle injuries and re-strengthened her ankles through exercises like the one I am having trouble with... she does not want me to have any 'crutches' in her words, to prevent me from doing my best... (?) Not quite sure what that means.


Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my post and offer insight, I really appreciate your efforts! :rolleyes:

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I'm glad that you feel okay with your teacher and that you respect her judgement. I don't wish to be insensitive to you or critical, je danse dans ma tete, but you may want to try a few classes with some other teachers, if possible, to give you some perspective on your situation. Good luck with your dancing...

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je danse, what she means by "crutches" is that she doesn't want you to use past injuries as an excuse not to do your best, or to give up too soon. I have similar issues, so understand it fully. It's hard to KEEP from using my formerly broken back, bad hip and bad ankles as excuses to not try an exercise.


Pointe might be a good thing for you, to strengthen the ankles if nothing else. I started pointe for that very reason, never expecting to even be able to get off the barre and do things in the center.


To my surprise, and almost delight (confidence!), I'm doing things in the center now. Pointe can help strengthen and give you some confidence in demi-pointe.


I'm actually typing this with an ice pack on my bad ankle, but I'm happy that I was able to do most of the work in ballet AND pointe class yesterday. It was, unfortunately, pain in my toes (the "normal" pain - e.g. possible blisters) that stopped me doing as much as I would have liked. And I wasn't allowed to complain, of course, as it was toe pain! LOL!


It sounds more like a confidence issue to me, with you, than it is a strength issue. Doing more releves, even holding onto the barre, would help. Feeling the (hate to use this word but I will, because I don't really MEAN it as it sounds) "lock" of the ankle into a solid place will help.


Pulling up hard in the leg will also help. It's another issue I'm struggling with. I feel wobbly but afraid to pull up so hard because of possible ankle pain. Yet when I do, I am more solid on demi-pointe. I hope this makes sense. It could be a slightly bent knee, imperceptible to the naked eye or even to your own feeling it yourself, that could be making your ankles more wobbly.


Just a few ideas. I know there'll be corrections to my theories, which I'll gladly accept and apply as well!

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Je danse, your statement about rolling your ankles all the time, even in street shoes, concern me a great deal. Why is this happening? Do you roll inward or outward? What has been done by the physio to prevent this from happening? Have you tried some kind of orthotics in your shoes?


You mention a lot of sprains, breaks, and tendon issues, as well as loose joints. Is it possible that the ligaments have been overstretched to the point of being lax, and there is simply no ankle strength there? When you stand on full demi pointe at the barre is there pain anywhere in the foot, or just the feeling of weakness? I would be concerned to have you even attempting one foot relevés in the center with the things you describe. :shrug:

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Ms. Leigh:


My ankles roll outward very easily. Most often when this happens I do not actually hurt myself... I will only injure myself if i am running or dancing when it happens because of the greater impact on the joints. I could actually walk on the outsides of my ankles with no pain because the joints are so loose... I think I was born like that to some degree... I have broken one ankle once and had 4 grade 3 sprains in it, and the other I have had innumerable grade 2 sprains and tendinitis. I also have had midfoot sprains and tendinitis. Most of these problems are sports injuries from before ballet (I was very active in track, hockey, and tennis) but I have had sprains and tendon issues since starting dance (as a direct result of dancing) as well.


The physio strapped\taped my ankles, had me do balance and proprioception exercises and the typical writing the alphabet with your big toe and picking up marbles or towels from the floor.


When I releve my feet are oaky, sometimes they will cramp a bit on the outer edge... but my ankles, especially the previously broken one, will hurt, or at least ache badly.


When my physio said he was done with me and could do no more he said I should be happy just to walk normally after all those issues and months in casts, splints etc... he said I might never have full balance but at the time I did not ask why as I was just happy to be done therapy. :shrug: I think the ligaments are probably overstretched, yes. Do you think it would still be possible to get stronger on demi pointe in this case?


I saw a pedorthist but she said I am neutral when I walk and run and just need a good supportive running shoe. She fit me in a couple pairs and they help but I still go over. :)


Serendipity: thanks for the tips- I will try to do what you suggested next class :D


Gina Ness: I will try to take some ballet classes with another teacher or two but probably will not be able to until next year (january, new semester)



Thanks afain for all the help! :o

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