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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Posture Exercises


scballetmom

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I am looking for some exercises to help my dd improve her everyday and dance posture. Her shoulders are constantly slumped, it seems, and her shoulder blades stick out noticeably in the back. Her neck also appears short and her stomach pokes out. When it's time to do combinations/perform, she seems to hold her shoulders and stomach correctly, and her neck lengthens; however, day to day, during warmup, and hanging out between combinations in class (or waiting for the audition to start! :thumbsup: ), she has poor posture. Although I'm "just a mom", when I observe her, her posture causes her to look like she lacks confidence, if that makes sense, and, I think, holds her back from who she could be as a dancer. I know that first impressions matter. I also wonder if, because she is one of the tallest dancers in our studio, and ALL of her friends are shorter, that she is in the habit of hunching over to chat with them.

 

Some background info: She's 13, close to 5'8", slendar, and has hyperextension, natural "perfect turnout", and "gorgeous feet". Her lower body is quite exceptional (according to all of the teachers and guest artist who have worked with her over the years).

 

Can anyone suggest any exercises that she can do at home to help develop a good posture habit? We have some therabands. Would pilates help? All I know to do is "nag", which hasn't been very effective.....

 

Thank you for your help! This site is a blessing!

Edited by scballetmom
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scballetmom, it's really not about exercises. It's about self discipline, and understanding the importance of making her posture for ballet a 24/7 thing. She spends less time in classes than she does standing, sitting, walking, therefore the posture has to become a habit. One gets rid of a bad habit by creating a new one. Sounds easy, but it's not.

 

Someone needs to really get it into her head that a ) tall is BEAUTIFUL! and b ) if she wants to be a dancer then she needs to take care of this situation NOW. It is highly preferable for her teachers to do this, to impress upon her the importance of 24/7. Never the best idea for Mom to do it. However, when I talk to my students about this, I also tell them that they will need help at first in order to remember the new habit, and it would be good if they would allow a parent to remind them when they are not at the studio. :)

 

Probably the most needed exercises would be abs, as they need to be strong to make everything else stronger. But the exercises alone won't do it. She has to WANT to do it and make up her mind to do it.

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Others will be better able to discuss technical issues (although my understanding is that strengthening the core is the chief contributor to better posture).

 

Since you raise the question of confidence, I'd ask: Does she look unconfident because she is slumping, or is she slumping because she doesn't feel confident?

 

I have a kiddo like this. At a fencing meet, I could nearly always tell how well she'd do in the next bout just by how she was standing. Slumped, arms drawn in and crossed, one hand raised to brush back her hair meant she was feeling very anxious. Sure enough, she'd fence tentatively too. Standing tall, looser, arms more akimbo meant she'd fight more assertively (and win more points).

 

As you mentioned, nagging doesn't help. Anyway, when we nag it usually means it's our issue and not the kiddo's. So, one thing you can do is to ask yourself why you care so much about her posture. You mention that it doesn't seem to affect her dancing, and that it's the impression it casts that concerns you. Are you worried that she won't do well in auditions and won't get selected for SIs and good roles? How does she feel about it? Does she really, truly want those SIs and roles, or is she kind of okay not getting them?

 

At various times, both my kiddos have declined the offer of bigger name, bigger studio training in order to remain at their small neighborhood studio. When they were your DD's age, this bugged me no end. Even when they were older. They seemed to have not enough ambition (although, in their case, it was never a question of "making it" or not -- neither of them was blessed with the body your DD seems to have). After many years, and some wise counsel from some of the members on this board, I reconciled myself to understanding that they are who they are, and that no matter how much I wished they were more confident, more assertive dancers, that's not who they were. They just weren't suited temperamentally to chasing that particular dream, even though they might say all they wanted to do was dance. Over time, I've come to appreciate them for who they are, to recognize their particular talents, and, most importantly I think, allowed them the space to discover and become who they want to be instead of trying to impose a vision they felt they had to live up to.

 

So ... my advice would be to ask her teachers if it is really, truly a problem, and if it is, let them handle it. If it's not, I'd try very hard just to let it go.

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Guest balletmom4444

Your inclination to ask about pilates was correct, in my opinion! My DD is tall as well. She and I both go to one-on-one pilates and I think the core excercises, arm and back work have benefited us both. Our instructor even gives me pointers about simple exercises to open up my shoulders and stand up straight before putting on my formal (strappy) dress for the annual ballet fundraiser! The pilates studio we go to has all the equipment - reformer and cadillac - not just floor exercises. Good luck to you and your tall girl!

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Thank you so much for your replies.

 

Ms. Leigh--I do believe that she is very self conscious about her height. Our director has made frequent comments about her height. As far as I know, her posture hasn't been a point of concentration at our studio (could they be working on other issues?). She has been taking classes 5 days per week for the last month at a studio about an hour away. When we spoke with the teacher on the last day, dd asked what was the one thing she should work on. The teacher immediately said "your shoulders". Thank you, also, for the affirmation that this needs to be addressed NOW. Do you think that I should address this with her main teacher?

 

Treefrog--Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I don't believe that she lacks confidence--she just looks like she does when she's standing around. Yes, I think I care more about it then she does. I don't think she sees the importance in it (maybe bacause of her age). She gets great roles and she gained acceptance into the SIs she auditioned for this year. As a result, I don't think she "feels the need". I'm concerned because I do think that an initial bad impression (whether at an SI or Company audition or during a college program interview...) could affect what opportunities she gets. Also, please know that I wasn't meaning to boast about her lower body: I only mentioned this because all of the attention that her lower body has received encourages us to feel that she might have the potential to go professional one day, and I don't want for her poor posture to close any doors. I guess you could say it would be nice for her upper body and lower body to look like they belong together all of the time! :)

 

Balletmom4444--Thank you for your encouragement to try pilates. It seems like I've read that core strength can suffer after a growth spurt. We live in a small town, but hopefully there is a class somewhere!

Edited by scballetmom
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Treefrog--One more thing that I forgot to add: My dds temperament sounds a lot like your kids. She's not very competitive or aggressive/assertive. She's just happy to dance! She's laid back, very little ruffles her, and she rolls with the punches.

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tall is BEAUTIFUL!

 

I've taught several tall young dancers who seemed to show this kind of insecurity with their height.... and I would thump into their heads exactly what Ms. Leigh said.

 

Time seems to help as other dancers catch up some height wise.

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ToThePointe--Thank you for your encouragement! One of her shorter friends is starting to catch up! She's been "tall" for several years. One of her teachers this summer thought that she was 16! Consequently, she is often expected be at the level of an older dancer..... But, that's another post topic, isn't it? :sweating:

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Just to add:

 

My DD has a habit of slumping at times - really at her home studio where she is 'comfortable'. She does not have confidence issues. She is average height - 5'5". She and her fellow dancers tend to do this - even the oldest, who has just graduated, and on her way to a professional career at one of the most distinguished arts colleges in the country. I have talked to my DD about it. And other students have been around when I mention it. Her and her classmates tell me that they are just relaxing their shoulders between exercises. I have told my DD that's nonsense. She knows it isn't the best thing to do, but sometimes she's just tired. I think that they all do believe it's okay to do this, but when I look in the room, it just looks sloppy to me! But perhaps I will ask the teacher to point that out to her in class again. I think with enough encouragement from the right sources, she will stop eventually. :D

I have to say since she has gotten back from this summer, she has not been doing this near as much. I will say I've never noticed her doing it when she is away either; though of course admittedly, I'm not there to watch every class!

To sum up, perhaps your DD is just relaxing her muscles, as has been pointed out to me by my DD and other dancers? It may just be a bad habit she should be encouraged to break. I obviously agree though, it should stop.

I hope it helps to note you aren't the only one who sees this. :unsure:

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Mobadt--Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. It is comforting to know that this might, perhaps, be more common than I thought (not that I wish bad habits on anyone!). I usually tend to watch at the end of class, when it's running late (although, as I said in my original post, I see it at other times, too). She does look tired -- and sloppy. It just doesn't look becoming of a dancer, to me! You mentioned having encouragement from the "right sources". I'd surely like for this to be addressed by her teacher, because my suggestions (nagging, I know) aren't working. Do you have any suggestions on a good way to approach the teacher to share my concerns? I don't want to come across as trying to tell her what to teach.....

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  • 3 weeks later...

So Sorry scballetmom - I just saw this post!! Don't know how I missed it before this!

 

The only thing I can tell you is - and what I would do - is maybe to approach the teacher and let her know that you noticed your daughter standing this way in class and wondered if this was usual or okay. Just by opening up a dialogue about your concern I don't think that the teacher would feel you were questioning their teaching. It's more a need to understand if it's okay. Once you start the conversation, they should be able to talk with you about it and explain their thoughts. Can any teachers affirm this would be a good way to handle this?

I would just approach it honestly and genuinely. But I'm sure you are thinking the same thing.

 

Ironically just yesterday I prodded my DD for slouching again. So much for her breaking the habit. But school just started, so I have a feeling it may partly be due to just being tired at this point! I guess I'll just chalk it up to a work in progress! :)

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  • 3 years later...

Hi! This thread hasn't had activity in a while, but it seemed like the most appropriate place to post.

 

My 14-year-old DD has developed rounded shoulders and her teachers have commented on it, saying that it's causing tension in her shoulders and messing with her pirouettes. I've talked with her about it and she says she has muscle pain between her shoulder blades in her upper back, and that it's genuinely difficult to get her shoulders down and back. We're headed to the doctor to check this out, of course.

 

She is average height (5'4"), [ ] lbs., and has hyperextension everywhere, particularly in her arms and back. Her core is strong and she does pilates weekly.

 

I'm certain some of this is just the teen "cool" posture and needs to be paid more attention. But what else can exacerbate this beyond habit--growth, bone structure, muscle strength/weakness, etc.? Does hyperextension make one more prone to slouching?

 

I also can't help but wonder about the impact of her heavy backpack that she carries at school all day, plus for a two-mile walk after school.

 

Anyone have experience with this and/or success with certain exercises? We're open to physical therapy assistance but I'm not certain we can jam one more thing into her day--something that she could do appointment-free would be ideal. Thanks for any thoughts you may have.

Edited by dancemaven
removed weight per BT4D policy.
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Time to have a chat with her academic school. Many schools around here are moving to a Kindle type system so the kids no longer have to lug around books. If that doesn't work see if you can buy a set of books to keep at home so she doesn't have to carry that weight. It is not healthy for the spine to carry weight like that regularly. The only healthy way to carry weight like that is to balance it on the head with the spine ram-rod straight, hands supporting on either side. And teens will not do that.

 

Definitely time for a doctor too, just to see what's going on for sure.

 

Beyond that, yes, there are exercises for posture! You might look into a yoga class, but it would need to be an experienced yogi who has a good eye.

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Thank you for your advice, Clara76,

 

Yes, we have eliminated the 9-pound (it's really that heavy--we weighed it) history textbook and are working on getting rid of the others. I agree that the Kindle approach is genius but our school isn't quite there yet. The books are so heavy, we've kidded that each student should be issued a llama and a sherpa to get from class to class! I've considered the idea of photocopying chapters so she can just tote around what she needs. She does carry one book in her arms in order to lessen the load a bit.

 

For right now, I'm using my lunch hour to pick her up from school, eliminating the 2-mile walk with the loaded backpack. And a friend who teaches gyrotonics has taught her a few simple exercises to help with the tension until she has her doctor appointment next week. I'll check back in with the results, just in case you're curious.

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Awesome! Yes, please do. It helps all of us. :)

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