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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Fully crossed fifth position


Sellen

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I did strictly Cecchetti until 13, came back as an adult for 4 or so years with a teacher that wasn't fully Cecchetti but more so than not. I've lately been taking classes with Vaganova basis. One thing I have gotten comments/corrections on pretty consistently is crossing my fifth position so that it's heel to end of toe instead of crossing with the heel at the base of my big toe joint. I do have to say it looks better aesthetically to me, but actually getting my body to do it is another story. From what I remember, the fifth closing to the joint came from the Cecchetti instruction - does that sound right? Not an excuse, just would like to confirm where I got this from. :sweating:

 

I feel like I'm fighting my legs' anatomy and muscle memory trying to cross more. My teacher last night spent several minutes working on it with me, suggested pulling up more but I just couldn't get the leg to slide over (all of this was done coming in from seconde). I'm already pushing against my knee to get it in the less-crossed fifth, it felt like I didn't have the strength to continue pulling my leg against that resistance all the way over. I have fairly narrow hips for my height, generous thighs and calves and a little (but not excessively) hyperextended knees. I also noticed that it's near impossible to avoid tilting my pelvis slightly forward and it feels like something in my rear area has to release in order to get my fifth closed which was a bit disturbing. I'm not sure if I'm tilting forward to get in fifth or if I am tucked under otherwise. Clara had suggested some things on trying to improve my turnout and I have been working to really feel the engaging of my turnout muscles, inner thighs and hamstrings more and trying to sort out the correct pelvis alignment. If my pelvis is back more in a closed position it will hurt in my hip joints.

 

More fiddling today I noticed if I mentally aim more for a teeny fourth position, I can come in with a bit more force and not get stopped by knee/thigh/calf collision and end up without any space between feet. I think what I normally do is sort of sliding through third into fifth and just get plain stuck. Since I had a break for a couple years after coming back initially, I'm still rebuilding strength to combat the hypermobility everywhere. Whereas I can hold my extension with foot at shoulder level in a proper alignment, moving quickly out of positions especially with leg raised is a struggle, feel like I'm swimming in molasses. So if it is partially a weakness issue at work, I wouldn't be too surprised.

 

Not sure what I'm trying to ask exactly, but maybe somewhere in the ramble someone will have some thoughts on what is causing the problem/what I should be aiming for. :(

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As teacher of students who are generally not trained in the Vaganova program but help them to switch gears, so to speak," practice, practice, practice". It can take a while to make the change from a less crosses fifth to a more crossed fifth. It is a matter of learning how high one can actually pull up/lift the body out of the legs. It may help you to think of closing two legs together rather than the working leg to the supporting leg. Don't give up. It is possible. :angry:

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Keep in mind that a lot of people can't naturally cross to a complete 5th toe to heel like that. Don't overcompensate by trying to turnout at your knees. As an adult, the turn out you have is the turn out you have. If you weren't trained to have a completely crossed fifth as a child, and you don't naturally have that turn out, the chances of getting it now and truly having it come from the hip rotation (any other rotation, where most people "fake" their true 5th, is an injury waiting to happen) are probably not that high. If that's the case then so be it. Good luck!

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Any torque my knees will cry out immediately, so believe me, I don't do anything that causes that sort of twisting strain. :angry: I have a good amount of natural rotation.

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