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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Bent Knees


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I have a lot of problems with keeping my knees straight, and I was wondering if they were all related. Some of these I've mentioned on this forum before.


1. In 5th position, I often can't quite get my front knee straight. If I overcross,I can usually straighten my knee just fine. If I don't cross enough, my knee bends quite a bit.


2. In turns on pointe, I have a habit of relaxing my knee just as I'm putting my weight on the leg. (That's mostly with pique turns, but sometimes pirrouettes and soutanoues, too.) Most of the time, I don't feel it when I do it, but I can see in the mirror that my leg is slightly bent. I'm pretty sure this is more of a bad habit than being physically incapable of doing it right. Lately, I think I've made some improvement in that area.


3. In developes, grande battments, and things like that, sometimes my supporting knee bends a little bit. Again, I think that's getting a little better.


4.In arabesque, I sometimes bend my back leg.


Do these things sound like they're related? If so, what can I do about them? By the way, I'm a little bit hyperextended, if that has anything to do with this.

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1. The hyperextension is probably somewhat in play here. You can open your fifth position to a very short fourth to counteract that tendency.


2. In piqué turns, reach out with the leg that you'll be turning on. The leg has to be straight. Use the mirror and actually feel the knee straightening.


3. Don't let the supporting leg get away with that. Again, pull up through the leg and don't bend it when doing extensions.


4. That may not be important. Let your teacher be your guide.

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You know, when you see the problem yourself, and can articulate it, then I think you already know how to fix it! Who is in charge, you or your legs? :shrug: Seriously, at least with a standing leg and an extended leg, if you know that it has to be straight, then straighten it. Fifth position is a bit more difficult for hyperextended people, and sometimes, even if you are really well placed and lifted up out of your hips, as Mr. Johnson said, you can leave a teeeeeeeeeny little space between the big toe of the back leg and the heel of the front leg. If that is necessary, just really be sure that it is absolutely minimal, like in first position if there is a teeny space there. If you make the space too big that is not good at all!


In piqué turns I find that most of the time when a student is stepping onto a slightly bent leg, then they are not moving their body weight enough by getting a good push from the plié of the standing leg. If the body gets even a tiny bit behind the leg, the knee will bend.

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