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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Posture questions


Mulberry

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I am wondering if there is a normal length of time that it usually takes (should take) a child student to get to the point where they are not being corrected on posture regularly. I am guessing that corrections on posture will continue from time to time until they are quite advanced, but I am talking about when posture is one of the major points for improvement.

 

A little bit of background: My oldest daughter is 11 years old. Until she was 10, she had one or two RAD classes in a local dance school each week. When she was 10, she supplemented her two RAD classes with a Royal Ballet School Junior Associate class held every two weeks. She is now at vocational school.

 

The local RAD teacher is not what I would consider to be detailed. I have had her as my own teacher (as an adult) and she still teaches my youngest DD and so I have been in or observed many, many of her classes. Until my daughter began the associate class, she had not been corrected at all on posture or placement. She had her first associate class in October 2009. These classes are incredibly detailed and very much focus on essential technique such as posture. At this point she was given posture exercises which she still does daily (or at least she tells me she does!). Every time I observed an associate class, I noticed that she was picked up on her posture more than the others, possibly with a slight 'Why am I still having to correct you on this?' attitude, which made me think that she was improving at a slower rate than desired. I'm sure that her teacher must have been aware that she is hypermobile, but she didn't comment on this with regards to her posture, so maybe she didn't think it had any bearing.

 

Now, a year later, she has just received her first report from vocational school, having been there for about 7 weeks. The main comment was that she needs to work on her posture.

 

Is this fine? To be expected? Should she have 'got it' by now? I haven't seen her in class, so it may just be that the teacher is working on all of the children to cement the basics in this first term (semester).

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I wonder whether the child truly understands what the expectation is with regards to the posture issue. This could be a problem with communication- teacher to child- or it could be a case of a child who just hasn't yet figured out how hard she's got to work when in class to make the correction.

 

Have you any ideas on what specifically the teacher wants her to do? Can she verbalize what the teacher wants?

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Have you any ideas on what specifically the teacher wants her to do? Can she verbalize what the teacher wants?

 

Thank you Clara. It wasn't written in the report; that just says 'posture' but both her regular teacher and the Director of Dance tell her not to flare her ribs. I'm not entirely sure what that means as I've never had that correction before.

 

I take it from your post that you think she should have made more progress? I know she has definitely made some at least during last year when she had Associate lessons. She took her RAD Grade 3 in November 2009 and got 85% and then took Grade 4 six months later and got 94%. I know there can always be discrepancies between examiners, but the second one is not known for being generous and none of the other girls in the school experienced an increase in their marks.

 

I just don't know what to think!

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Mulberry, in writing student assessments, I often make comments regarding the student's need to understand and achieve good balletic posture and alignment. Since the details and how tos are taught in class, I do not spell it out for the parents mainly because it generally is not something the parents can attend to. It is the student's responsibility to achieve and maintain.

 

That being said, generally speaking good balletic posture requires aligning the bones of the body in a straight line. No inclinations forward nor backward, no sagging in the waist, the back is erect and the buttock muscles are lifted upward into the hips and lower back. The waist is strengthened by the tension of the lower back muscles. The shoulder blades are lowered downward into the middle back without being joined to one another for this flaw inevitably weakens the lower back. Stability is maintained by preserving the vertical axis, which passes through the middle of the head and body to the front of the heels when standing on the whole foot and through the ball of the foot when standing on demi pointe. Equillibrium is maintained by the correct distribution of the weight of the body on either side of the axis while pulling up the lower back and thighs. Correctly turning out the thigh of the working and supporting leg in the hip socket helps to achieve stability of the body. Without this basic understanding of posture, the ballet student is unable to achieve harmonious movement to the music.

 

At age 11 just about all you can do to help your child understand the importance of correcting her errors is to speak with the teacher regarding your concerns and about the things you do not understand. Your daughter must develop a relationship with the teacher filled with mutual trust and understanding of how her body works and dedication to making her the best that she can be.

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I am wondering if there is a normal length of time that it usually takes (should take) a child student to get to the point where they are not being corrected on posture regularly.

 

Oh, usually about twenty or thirty years does it. :)

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Each level or stage of development in ballet has differing expectations. Within each level posture must be maintained. Posture is one of those things that must be worked out and re-enforced constantly however there are expectations for each year of ballet regarding posture. If your DD is receiving posture comments in class and in her accessment, there are issues that need to be attended to sooner rather than later.

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Thank you Vrs. You are completely correct, the reason why I am feeling concerned and making the post on here in the first place is that I can't chat with her teacher. Unfortunately, I won't meet her teacher until the last day of term (in December). Until then, I am worrying that I can't answer Clara's question, which concerned whether she is working hard enough to make the corrections in class. Hopefully, I'll know more then, but in the meantime I just wanted to gauge whether experienced teachers would have expected to have stopped having to make posture corrections.

 

One other thing; I've read (on this forum as well as other places) that we should expect people with hypermobility to take longer to develop core strength. Bearing in mind that until September she only had three term's worth of one lesson a fortnight that actually looked at posture (plus homework exercises), was that enough for a hypermobile child?

 

Also, I'm wondering whether I'm worrying unnecessarily about the reference to posture in her half-term report from her new school. When you take a new intake of children into a school, all of them from very different ballet backgrounds, maybe you'd want to spend the first couple of months concentrating on teaching them the school's individual approach to best posture and getting all of them to the same level as far as the fundamentals go.

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Mulberry, I would be concerned with a school that does not provide access to the ballet teaching faculty. I teach in a residential program however the parents are able to contact me to discuss anything and everything regarding the development of their child. I am available by phone and by email. Are you sure there is no way to contact the teacher or has the information just not been provided? Call the director of the program and say that you would like to speak with her ballet teacher. The call should be returned within a reasonable amount of time.

 

Seems odd to me. :)

 

I expect the students in my class to work and improve in the areas of focus I request. No more, no less. Each student is assessed individually based upon the material being presented. In order to maintain a level in a class there must be requirements for all. Hypermobility is a term that did not exist when I was studying ballet however, ballet teachers have always been confronted by varying degrees of flexibility. A vocational school should be able to assess and work with the students they accept into their program. If a child is accessed out, it could means the school was not able to help the child progress through the ranks they have set up. Many talented children are assessed out of very prestigious vocational programs and succeed quite well in the ballet world. Do not become overly concerned with this issue. Being assessed out of every program would however be a cause for concern.

Edited by Mel Johnson
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Mulberry, in reading your post again, I think maybe we need to consider the child's previous training and the short length of time in this new school. Posture issues are not at all uncommon for 10-12 year olds, and if her earlier training was not correcting it, then it is not going to happen overnight. It has to become a whole new way of aligning the bones and placing the weight, and 11 year olds do not always have the muscle strength to maintain that until they have worked on it for a very long time. And since she is extremely flexible, it is probably the body type that takes longer to strengthen.

 

I agree with vrs that you should be able to talk to the teachers at her school. If there is a serious concern of any kind, waiting months to discuss it is not acceptable. However, I'm not convinced that the posture issue is a serious concern yet, since she has been at this school only 7 weeks! She was 10 years old when getting the detailed posture work, and that was happening only once every 2 weeks. That is simply not going to do it if that work is not being constantly reinforced at her regular ballet school.

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I agree and I should have explained more thoroughly that these types of things are indeed, normal. I guess I'm trying to get a sense of how clear the teacher has been with your child. It sounds like there may be some room for more direction on the part of the teacher.

 

Splayed ribs frequently happen because of what the child is doing in the pelvic area- usually arching the lower back and allowing the pelvis to tilt, thus causing the ribs to be thrust forward. However, I agree with both vrsfanatic and Miss Leigh that this type of correction does take time, and it cannot be fixed just in the classroom. It must be practiced correctly at all times when the child is upright. The child needs to learn to develop a relationship with the teacher so she can take responsibility for her improvement.

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Thank you all for your answers. Please don't be concerned about the school's approachability. I am sure I could speak with her teacher or Director of Dance if it was important, but especially since she is new I don't want to go rushing in if there's nothing to be concerned about!

 

I have actually been pleased with DD's relationship with her teacher. She likes and respects her a great deal. On her own accord my DD approached her today and the teacher told her that she is very pleased with her.

 

Thanks to your posts, I am going to relax now and not even think about it 'til Parents Consultations!

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Sounds good to me! :D

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