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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Problem with developpes


ccharlotts

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I'm having some major problems with my developpes to the front and side. I can life my leg only to 90 degrees when we're doing developpes front and side, but to the back I can do an arabesque easily over 90 degrees. I'm fairly flexible and when I lift my leg with my hand to the side (I'm not sure what it is called), I can reach about 160 degrees. Also when doing grand battements I get my leg way over 90 degrees. I can hold my leg on the sad-looking 90 degrees for a long time, so I'm not sure if its about strength.

 

I went to a dance specialized physiotherapist, who was also quite puzzled why I couldn't lift my leg higher. He said that I could work on the back of my thighs and gave me some stretches. I've been doing them for 6 months now but I haven't noticed any difference. In my opinion I should see some improvement in 6 months. Could it be because of my flexibility, although I can get my leg up to 160 degrees if I help it with my hand? Or is that even high?

 

I'm getting really frustrated with this problem. I hate doing developpes and feel ashamed, because all my classmates get their legs high up. I practice the lifts at home almost every day, but nothing changes. My teacher is very keen on developpes and insists thatt everybody has to get legs higher than 90 degrees. According to her 110 is the minimum. I feel pressure to get the leg up but I just can't. My teacher really doesn't understand what is my problem and we regularly have these "contests" at classes when everybody has to get their leg at least 5 inches higher than the person infront of them gets.

 

I'm pretty sure this isn't a technique problem because my teacher would have corrected it. One thing I notice though is that when I lift my leg I use the front of the thigh more than the back. I'm not gripping (is it called that??) overly much since the front thigh muscle isn't nowhere near rock hard on developpes. I don't know if that is the problem, but I don't think it is. I do lift the thigh up first as high as I can get (it's much over 90 degrees) and then start lifting the rest of the leg but at the same time the knee goes down and I end up at 90.

 

I would hugely appreciate all tips and thoughts, because I'm out of ideas!

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When you do pied de la main (or jambe à la main) to 160, can you let go and hold it there, maintaining alignment and rotation?

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No, I can't. It drops to about 130 degrees and I can hold it there. I would be so happy if I were able to go even that high with developpe

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You have to be gripping somewhere when you développé. My guess would be that you are holding your breath and trying to muscle the leg up, instead of releasing the breath and allowing the leg to go up freely. Try this: bring your leg to retiré, lift the knee up as high as you can without losing placement or rotation, taking a breath as you do this; at the top of the lift of the knee exhale and feel like the lower leg makes a very slightly downward movement as the leg releases out and up. It's like there is this circular energy that moves around your body and under your leg and just lifts it for you as you exhale, kind of like you are not doing it but some other force is doing it for you. I know this is hard to understand, and it's one of those things I could show you in a heartbeat, but trying to write it and make it clear is difficult.

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Thanks Ms. Leigh for answering! I think I did understand what you meant, the description was very good. I tried it many times on both sides and I can't feel any difference.

 

I re-evaluated myself and I think you're definitely right, I do hold my breath and try to muscle the leg up. So is this where the problem is? As I said I tried the exercise you gave and I didn't get my leg up higher. I'm somehow unable to not muscle the leg up, I just can't really understand how my leg would get higher without me gripping the front of the thigh. Don't get me wrong, I believe it does but I just don't know how. I tried to concentrate on the circular energy around but I didn't do any better.

 

Thank you for the tip anyway! Do you have any other tips? I'll keep on trying this one anyways.

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It takes timing and coordination, which may take a bit of practice. The exhale basically just helps you to feel the circular energy pattern, but it also should prevent the gripping. It's hard to grip when you consciously exhale. Do the exhale audibly so that you know you are doing it.

 

I'm going to give you one more thing to try in order to help you feel the release of the energy. Again, hard to teach it in writing, but I'll try. At the moment of the lift of the knee from the retiré, as you take the breath, also release the heel of the standing leg VERY slightly off the floor. It's NOT a relevé, it's just a tiny upward movement which makes sure your weight is not sitting back in your heel, and it helps you to feel the up that creates the down that allows the release up. This little up thing is on the intake of the breath and on the "and" of the music, and as you lower the heel and exhale the working leg should be on it's way upward. It is an "up to go down to go up" thing, which is making the développé a reaction instead of an action. Note: this is a little gimmick to help you find the action/reaction. It is not intended to be used all the time, once your body undertands how to find the right feelings and energy patterns.

 

I probably just muddied the waters, but I hope not! Let me know.

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Thank you so much for the tips! I've been practicing developpes with those techniques a lot yesterday and today. I really concentrated on breathing on the classes at my SI. It doesn't work every single time, because I'm still new to these techniques. But I have noticed that my leg goes up a little higher which is definitely an improvement and that I don't grip anymore to when doing developpe a la seconde. I'm still having some problems with the front, but I'm sure I'll get better with time.

 

Thank you again for sharing this information! It's wonderful to have someone here who can help even through writing. You explained everything very clearly and I totally understood what you meant! :) Thanks!

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So happy to be of help, ccharlotts. :) Don't worry too much about the front. It is usually harder for everyone, and, it's really not as important that it be super high, because one loses the rotation and line if it goes too high.

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I had a few questions related to this topic, but since I'm not 17, am I allowed to ask them here, or should I start a new topic on the 13-16 forum?

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Please ask on the YD 13-16 forum, pas marché. :D

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  • 2 weeks later...
Don't worry too much about the front. It is usually harder for everyone

 

Why?

I don't want to sound smart alecky or anything, but I've always wondered. Is there some anatomy reason why extentions to the front can't get as high?

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I think that in the front and back positions the pelvis must tilt either forward or back in order to achieve height; to the side, it doesn't.

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