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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Thighs


Balletlove

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:shrug: We are allowed to wear denim jeans to work on a Friday provided that we dont have any meetings (It doesnt happen too often for me). So the jeans came out of the cupboard this morning and oh horror of horrors they are MUCH tighter over the thighs than they used to be :blushing:. In complete denial I reached for another pair of jeans only to discover that oops :shrug: these are also rather uhm tight over the thighs, I hastily jumped onto the scale to find that okay at least that hasnt changed, but why are my thighs bigger???!!!!!

 

I am by no means overweight, but I do not have the super slim ballet legs of all the other girls in my class and now horror of horrors to realise that they are getting bigger :unsure:

 

I do have long legs and so I suppose it is not that noticeable to anyone else, my hubby couldnt understand why I was upset, but I really really am. :clapping::crying:

 

I work really hard in my ballet classes with a rather strict teacher so I know that I do push off the floor in grande battements etc so I do not know what has gone wrong!

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Hi Balletlove,

 

I'm new to this site and am not going to pretend to have the answer, but I did just wonder firstly, how long it is since you last wore those jeans compared with how long you have been working with this particular teacher and secondly, whether you get a proper chance to stretch out your thigh muscles at the end of class?

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Have you changed your class regimen since you wore the jeans last, as adding modern or jazz? Or has the class content of your ballet class changed? There could be a technical reason for bigger thighs, but there's always the "lethal gene" concept, which says that at a certain age particular to your family, your body redistributes itself.

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My classes have not really changed at all, for the last 7 months we have been working on our advanced I syllabus work which is obviously quite a bit more demanding than the Intermediate work was.

 

I only do ballet, four times a week. Juggling a career and a family this is about all that I can fit in.

 

I am just really concerned that I might be doing something that I am unaware of that is causing the muscle to build. I try to be very aware of the way that I stand as I was getting unbelievable pain in my lower back about a year ago which was definitely caused by the way I was standing while doing certain exercises like ronde jombe a terre (sp?). As soon as the placement was corrected for me it felt like I was pushing the pelvis forward and/or tucking under viewed in the mirror it just looked straightened out and not like I was sticking my bum out (I wear glasses, but dont dance with them on, so I cannot see this without stopping, going to get the glasses and checking).

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Hi Merry

 

Jeans are not my favourite item of clothing, so probably about two months ago. I have been with the same teacher for 8 years now although as I indicated in post to Mel the complexity of the work has been increasing in the last 7 months. As to whether I am stretching them out properly after class, probably not. I do a quick stretch of the muscles down the front and the back and thats it?!

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Ah, I think I see a possible explanation. Firstly, as I gather that we're all talking RAD Advanced I, you need to recall the advice from far back in the curriculum. Keep the spine as long as possible. Secondly, make sure that you're not settling into your supporting hip at barre and particularly in adage in center practice. That latter will build "thunder thighs" in pretty short order! :rolleyes:

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Hi Mel

 

Thank you for your replies, I am doing Cecchetti Advanced I. I started dancing about 8 years ago with my first exam being grade 4 which I did about 5 years ago, so I may have missed something along the way. Am I correct that "settling in" would be the same as "sitting" in the supporting hip? I do not think that I am doing that and although that is one of my teachers pet hates it is not something I get corrected on, I do get the "you are leaning back" or "get your weight forward" with the nudges in the right places to make this happen often though.

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There are many points of contact between RAD and Cecchetti. Indeed, the original RAD was very similar to the Cecchetti of the day, as the Old Maestro was still alive when it was formed! Yes, "settling" is the same as "sitting". You should be conscious of engaging your quadriceps muscles (must keep those knees straight! That's what they do.) but without gripping them or locking them up. That will also make the thigh muscles get bigger. But that genetic factor keeps nibbling away at my mind.

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I have one of those body types that naturally bulks up muscle more easily than other body types, so I can relate...although this has been something I have been experiencing all my life.

 

Are you "gripping" the quads in class? I'm not quite sure how to explain this, maybe one of the teachers could explain, but that is often a reason for bulking up on the thighs. Also, do you have any specific muscle imbalances? I know my quads are stronger than many of my other thigh muscles so I have to be careful that I don't rely on them when I should be using other muscles.

 

(edited to add: I was clearly posting at the same time as Major Mel...he explained the gripping)

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I like Mel’s “lethal gene” terminology. Though it is always difficult to attribute cause, there’s probably a 99% chance that your “jeans difficulty” is inherited, especially if your bodyweight hasn’t changed much. Our bodies change with age no matter what we try to do. Bodies tend to evolve into the classic apple and pear varieties, something that is pretty much genetic.

 

All you can do about it is essentially to try and maintain a certain bodyweight. Doing a lot of ballet and exercise will help that for sure. I wouldn’t look for gremlins in your ballet class, exercise program, or daily life.

 

On the psychological side you have to do your best just to accept genetics and your overall shape whatever that may be. Well, perhaps that’s impossible. Most of the dance people I know are self-critical when it comes to one’s body. Nonetheless, you need to try.

 

My bodyweight is about the same as it was when I graduated from high school. I remember my pant size back then. No possible way on earth could I get into any pair of pants I once wore.

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I do think that I am gripping my knees. My teacher often tells us to lock our knees (particularly while doing pirouettes) which I dont really know how to do. I dont have any nerves in the back of my knees due to a couple of knee op's (not ballet related), so I think that I have been relying on a slightly tense sensation in the thigh to tell me when I am pulled up. I suddenly wonder if this is not in part the cause?

 

I do hear the genetics factor, but I am not that old only 33? I am built exactly like my grandmother very very tiny on top (my wedding dress came from overseas and much to my amusement was a size 0 - which still fits) with a super small waist but not quite so small across the hips and bum.

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I must admit I also chuckled at the "lethal gene" terminology!

 

I definitely know that the trousers that I wore when I left school would not fit now! I wish! I generally tend to but clothes a bit on the loose side because I just dont like tight clothes especially trousers and this seems to have just "happened" so quickly that it was a total shock.

 

It is definitely muscle, it is hard and defined in shape, but I have never liked the body builder look so do not want chunky muscles, long and lean is great, chunky is not!

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The genetics factor can take over at any age! And being able to tell when your knees are straight without jamming is a part of what's called "propriocentricity". We all have it. Listen to your knees! :rolleyes:

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If you're tensing the thigh to "feel" the knees, that'll do it. That said, it could be genes. I never used to have big thighs either (even when overweight), but thanks to Grandma, even with my constant dancing and gym workouts, I have slightly bigger thighs than before. I also blame her for my tummy that seems to not want to leave.... (The only girl in the family and I DON'T inherit my mother's beautiful ballet body!)

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*tuts* I am a moderator on a forum for my other passion, family history - I thought I'd come on the wrong site for a minute!!

 

Balletlove, thanks for answering my questions. Do you know if your grandmother was very slim in her teens/early 20s? If she was and she developed larger hips by the time she was 30ish then you may know who to blame :rolleyes: , but if she was always that build then you might have to look elsewhere, though the genetic theory sounds the most likely to me.

 

I am waiting, with trepadation, to wake up one morning and find I have my mums legs!

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