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Ballet Talk for Dancers
missvjc420

:shrug: Plan For Getting Back Up to Speed

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missvjc420

Finally, I get to take class. I can do everything except jump and releve on my left foot (or 2 feet) for now. My plan is to take a Pilates for Dancers class for a hour for the Fall term, a Conditioning for Dancers hour once a week and a Ballet 1 class that is also 1 hr. These two I'm trying for a month and will either continue with or replace one with a higher level class later. I am rather strong in my core after a year and 3/4 of Pilates at least twice a week, but I have lost some turnout and the ability to get my leg past 110 degrees front and side on my "good leg". I wanted to know what guidelines I should use for determining when I'm ready for more class or a higher level ( I was dancing at a advanced level before my injury 3 years ago) and how to regain my lost turnout and flexibility. Will it return with more classwork or at 33, would I have to work on it outside of class? I also wondered if I was doing the right thing to go to a absolute beginner level for a bit and retrain with this new, more cumbersome feeling body.

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vrsfanatic

missvjc420 it all depends what is in the absolute beginner class and how much knowledge the teacher has of your past. I have seen beginner classes and then I have seen "beginner classes". Each teacher's idea of what is a beginner class may be different. Speak with the teacher after a few classes regarding what the teacher might or might not recommend. In general, it sounds like you may need a plan of progression.

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MJ

Did you speak to your doctor or therapist? They can help you make a determination as to when you can take class and how much you can take.

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missvjc420

Yes I have definitely spoken to my team of doctors (not kidding- orthopedics, podiatrist, neurologists,chiropractor, and PT) and they are all in agreement. I can do barre and some center work, no grand plies or any releves with the left foot. They feel that as long as nothing hurts, I'm ok. As to how much class, they all left it up to me to take it slowly, and I am, by starting with an absolute beginner class (it's a class for first time older children and adults) and checking in regularly with my heath pros.

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Redbookish
retrain with this new, more cumbersome feeling body.

 

Missjvc, many commiserations about this feeling. And you put it so well, I recognised the feeling immediately I read your post. I've been struggling with this sense of a different and far less biddable body as well, after a couple of years of sporadic dancing including one year pretty much completely out of any exercise. This was precipitated by a bad wrist fracture and a looooong and painful recovery as well as some really difficult publication deadlines. And the lack of confidence and a sort of alienation from my body as "mine" which was a quite unexpected consequence of the fracture and nerve damage afterwards.

 

And that, combined with encroaching middle age. has mean that I don't feel the same in my body in class at the moment, as I did 2 years ago. Unlike you, I'm afraid I didn't keep up with any regular exercise programme such as PIlates, although I have been doing a lot of fell-walking and will often spend 6 or 7 hours out 2000 feet up on the mountains (in the English Lake District) so there's a modicum of fitness!

 

I was quite apprehensive about getting back to class (the same old same old "fat, old, unfit" fears), but I found that about half way through my third full class, something shifted in my body & mind, and things started to wake up a bit! It was a great feeling, and now I know that. although it will take a lot longer than I would wish (I'm 50!) I've now got a little bit of confidence that my body won't always feel so cumbersome.

 

I'm trying to reflect on the whole experience as a very powerful learning curve about the relationship between mind and body: the experience of feeling that my right hand and forearm (I'm right-handed) was not actually part of "my" body was quite odd & disturbing, albeit fascinating if I could detach from the slight sense of panic about that!

 

So good luck! And with the kind of determination you've demonstrated here, it will happen.

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missvjc420

Thanks for your post, Redbookish- it did me a world of good!

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vrsfanatic
confidence that my body won't always feel so cumbersome.

 

Somehow my eyes just passed over this statement missvjc420. I apologize. :blushing: I know the feeling, physically and in my mind, all too well. Redbookish has given fantastic advice to follow. :thumbsup: Her words will echo in my ears as I step up to the barre tomorrow for my 5th ballet class (with some consistency) after a 10 hiatus. It is totally envigorating, stimulating and fun but it hurts equally in my mind and my body. The mind game is the more difficult to battle for sure. :sweating:

 

I'm trying to reflect on the whole experience as a very powerful learning curve about the relationship between mind and body: the experience of feeling that my right hand and forearm (I'm right-handed) was not actually part of "my" body was quite odd & disturbing, albeit fascinating if I could detach from the slight sense of panic about that!
:angry:

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missvjc420

That last quote that vrsfanatic outlined for redbookish's post really speaks to me as well- I couldn't step on my foot normally for more than a year, so even a pas de bouree is an issue at times now. It's really like someone else pulls it's strings for now. I'm just trying to work my foot without overworking it for now. To get my poor foot to stretch into a pointed position was next to impossible in June, so now I just have to work smart until I can work hard and smart again.

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Serendipity

It's taken *me* about three years for the pointe's muscle memory to return, since the ankle break. It's taken me slightly more than that for the alignment to start coming back, and I can thank a teacher at Richmond for that help, for me, at least. Impatience is the hardest, for me.

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missvjc420

I just got the ability to point my foot back, at this time, I'm ok without pointe work for a long while. Lucky for me, my Pilates work has really helped with alignment and balance. On my right foot, I can balance for days, and turns to my left are, ironically, the best they've ever been. But I've lost rotation and extension, and endurance.

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Serendipity

If you've had good rotation before, it'll come back. Alignment will be harder because as your body changes back to where it was, the body's center of weight will change. You'll constantly be readjusting for a while. Some things, unfortunately, won't change much, either, depending on your age: the younger you are, the more you will be able to return to the way you are before - at least, that's what happened to *me* when I had the back broken at 25. The only thing that never returned was my rotation, but that was due to where the back had been broken.

 

Just take it slowly, if you don't mind my experience coming out here. Better slow and safe and fully recovered than fast and having problems for a lifetime.

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missvjc420

Oh yes, I'm all about the slow and steady- I have a vague plan that revisits every level of ballet before I get back to my former level. I'm also ok with not reaching that level again if that does happen, as demi pointe on the left is a dream right now. I really want to be able to relearn each movement correctly, from plie to battement,and get it in my body the right way, before actually dancing.

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Serendipity

That's a great plan, in my opinion! Not easy to be patient but, well, let me say that had I been more patient, perhaps some of the issues I've had over the past year would not have happened. Live and learn....

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K123

Some comments in this thread have been really reassuring. I am coming back to ballet after stopping just before the birth of my little girl. I tried and failed to come back after about 4 months - but I still wasn't getting enough sleep and was exhausted. My daughter is now nearly 17 months, so I've been away much longer than I expected and can really relate to that feeling of your body not being your own any more. Heavier, older, wondering if I will ever get back to my previous standard. I've been to two classes now and tonight is my third so I'm hoping to have that epiphany you speak of Redbookish! We'll see...either way I'm very glad to be back. But it's hard not to have the connection with your body that you once did. I hope it comes back...although, I'll probably just get there and then end up having another little one!! C'est la vie...Thanks for the encouraging stories and thoughts.

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ami1436

K123: CONGRATS on your little girl. They are so amazing at that age! And nice to have you back 'on board'!

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