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Ballet Talk for Dancers

DVD/Videos: Front Splits Fast


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I have a teenaged daughter who lives to dance, but who has always been extremely tight. (She is a wonderful jumper, but struggles terribly with adagio and extension.) This summer I bought the Front Splits Fast DVD, hoping only that I wasn’t buying snake oil.

 

Lisa Howell introduces concepts that were new to my daughter, such as the idea that a “short” hamstring may actually not be short, but may be impeded by neural tension. The DVD covers a series of massages and stretches moving from the upper back all the way down to the calves and feet. All I can say is that my daughter has been using “the program” over the course of this summer, and has noticed a visible improvement in her flexibility.

 

This program will not magically change your body overnight, but for my daughter it has been wonderful. I guess the only downside is that it is time-consuming. It takes 45 minutes to work through the entire DVD, but my daughter has been able to pull out some of the stretches and exercises and integrate them into her pre-class warm-up.

 

Hope this helps!

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Victoria Leigh

A red flag goes up for me anytime I hear about anything in ballet happening fast. I also have a huge problem with being able to do splits being a big deal. They are just a stretch to help with flexibility, nothing more. They are not even a part of the vocabulary of classical ballet.

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I'm glad to hear that this seems to work. I spoke with my massage therapist and a PT about it after seeing a clip from the video this summer and they both agreed that the neural aspect is quite significant.

 

I was curious as to how the video worked, though. Can your daughter do it on her own or does she need someone to help in order to get through this video?

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A video clip that you may have seen on YouTube shows Lisa Howell giving a massage to her student’s neck. That process is described on the DVD, but most of what she shows are stretches that a dancer can do on her own.

 

I must admit, many of the techniques are probably familiar to dancers and teachers already (she teaches an elementary yoga “salute to the sun” for instance.) It’s not magic: It’s just a thorough combination of relaxation techniques, stretches, and a few self massages. However, in our small sample size of one, it does help, and my daughter had been doing traditional dance stretches without much progress for years. Who would have suspected that stretching your back and neck could help release the hamstring?

 

And for Ms. Leigh’s concerns: I do admit that the marketing for this program makes it seem suspect, but Lisa Howell is a respected physiotherapist who has worked with Deborah Vogel. And my daughter’s goal is not “front splits fast”, but to increase her flexibility so she can continue to make progress as a dancer.

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Victoria Leigh

Sorry, but I cannot tolerate anything that promises instant anything in ballet. It's just gross marketing, in my opinion. It promotes the idea that "front splits" are a must have thing that one must get quickly, which is just not going to happen, nor is it the most important thing that needs to happen. Makes it sound like splits are the thing one must have, as opposed to the fact that they are just a stretch. Their purpose is to improve the flexibility for ballet. Splits are not ballet.

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Thanks for that information, EAC. And for yours, Ms. Leigh. I had one teacher who insisted on front splits and it was agonizing to try. I'm pretty flexible compared with the average person for my age but can't do front splits anymore after the back break years ago. Fortunately, I now have teachers who emphasize placement and strength building.

 

But I still would like to find out what these other stretches might do - I'm wondering if they might help relieve some of the hip issues I have. This same author does the "Perfect Pointe" system, and it's very comprehensive in terms of figuring out if one is ready for pointe, as well as giving some great exercises for readiness.

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Victoria Leigh

I'm not against intelligent stretches and exercises that can help one become better in ballet. But I am so turned off by that title, and by the emphasis people put on splits, as well as on getting anything like that fast. Very bad title. :(

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I'm not against intelligent stretches and exercises that can help one become better in ballet. But I am so turned off by that title, and by the emphasis people put on splits, as well as on getting anything like that fast. Very bad title. :(

 

I agree that the title is not a turn-on for most, but from the clips shown on the website the DVD is geared more to improving overall flexibility than getting into the splits. Maybe "fast" could be understood as "faster than the faulty and unhealthy methods dancers use to force flexibility" :wink:

 

EAC: your daughter and I have much in common. thank you for the feedback :)

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Ms Leigh, I have a similar reaction to yours to the titles of Lisa Howell's DVDs, books, etc.

 

I wonder if there is a real disconnect there - the advertising people having no idea to whom they are supposed to be promoting these products!?

 

What Ms Howell has done is quite valid and careful and not at all what one would expect from just reading the titles or - sometimes even worse - seeing the ads themselves at the website. :(

 

Anyway, splits are really _just a stretch_, and there are others one can do to get the same result - increased flexibility - but one can of course use the techniques in Ms Howell's DVDs to do any of that.

 

-d-

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After reading this thread a day ago, I searched the video on youtube. There was a brief demonstration where Ms. Howell has a dancer lay on her back. Checks her forward flexibility, then gives a neck massage for a few minutes (while dancer is still on her back), then rechecks flexibility with pretty astounding improvement. DD and I tried this at home (both on her and myself) with similar astounding results! Try it!

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ceecee - I watched that clip with my daughter a few weeks ago. I thought it was absolute rubbish (ie fake!) and told daughter so, but of course she pleaded and pleaded with me to give it a go, so we did. She is the tightest person I know, just like I was at her age (9) -her front extension doesn't go much past 45 degrees! However, after the neck massage suddenly we had 90 degrees and probably would have gone a bit further, but I wouldn't allow it! I have to say I was absolutely shocked.

 

I agree about the title of the DVD, but I guess it's all about sales in the end. That word 'splits' is a $£$£ maker!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This video has caught my attention as well. I think the underlying principles propounded by Howell make alot of sense, and are in line with what I've learned from Alexander Technique (the whole body helps with everything and everything is connected).

 

I totally agree with Viictoria Leigh about the title, though probably for different reasons. I supsect that Howell is actually limiting her market severely here by marketing to young ballet dancers who are eager to do the splits. I think the techniques might have the potential to help dancers and other athletes in myriad ways besides just achieving front splits (but I haven't sprung for the DVD set yet, it is quite pricey).

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  • 7 months later...
Dream2Dance

I have been saving up the money I've made helping my sister teach and have decided to buy myself something :grinning: I came across the Front Splits Fast website and am considering purchasing the DVD. Has anyone tried this program? and if so, what did you think of it?

 

Dream2Dance

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I was just able to merge your topic with the existing one. Go back through and read each post carefully. :grinning:

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