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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Let's talk about cambré derrière...


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Apparently I need a recap on proper technique, because lately my body has not been responding well to this action. This began a few weeks ago. I had to miss class for about six weeks due to another obligation, and in my first class after this break, the very first cambré set off a spasm in my back. I figured I'd just overdone it. I'm not as young as I used to be (although still not THAT old), it was my first class in a while. This first spasm was also rather low in the back, so I kicked myself for using bad technique in an attempt to keep up with the teenagers and made an effort after that to bend from the center of the back and not the lumbar curve. So I've been paying more attention to these things, trying not to push it too far, keeping the bend in the upper half of the spine, and it's been ok, until last night. My back spasmed again, and this time it was higher up. So I spasmed while practicing what I thought was good technique. At this point, I've been back in class on a regular basis for over a month.


So rather than just give up on it and start to limit the range of motion in my spine, I'd much rather go through all the finer points of technique and examine what I may be missing. Any thoughts on technique, passive stretches, exercises for the spine, etc., that might be useful...

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Hmmm, I'd be inclined to say it's not bad technique as such, simply the combination of older muscles and having had a break. Do you sit at a desk a lot of your working day? Or do other things that might not be wholly fabulous for your back? (eg lifting small children?)


My job tends to keep me at my desk for 10-12 hour days regularly, and I find I have a ritualistic and necessary back relaxing & stretching routine before class. I use a variation of the yoga plough (flat on back, and then rolling my spine so my feet touch the ground behind my head), the hip flexor stretch where, lying on your back, I take my right knee across to my left side and turn my head to the right, all the time breathing out through the stretch and thinking about keeping my spine flat to the floor (and left knee to right side, obviously), and then I use the barre to do a standing stretch where I hinge from the hips and pull back from the barre (ie facing the barre, both hands holding the barre) and try to keep my back really flat, and really think about separating out the separate bones in my spine, particularly in the lumbar area.


Most of thes stretches can be done as passive stretches, letting the weight of your body do the work. Sometimes I think just lying flat on my back on the floor and getting my breathing down into the lower abdomen and getting my spine flat to the floor is all I need (but sometimes I think I'm really just trying to nap before class :) !)

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I don't sit at a desk; I'm a massage therapist and a dance teacher, so I am pretty active in my work. I am always careful to use good posture and keep my back and neck straight while working. I see all to often what poor lifting technique, poor posture, and long hours at a desk can do to my clients' bodies and because I remind them about it so often, it's always with me in my own life as well. I also see what it does to other therapists who aren't so careful with their bodies.


I will start taking more time to stretch and warm up my spine from here on out, and hopefully that will make a difference. I'm due for a massage myself this week, too, and that should help matters as well. Welcome to getting old, TeaTime. :)

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TeaTime, just something to try....instead of thinking of bending from any particular place in your back, try lifting your head like it is going up and over to go back and follow it by taking your chest back in the same fashion.

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