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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Building stamina


NicoletteLeFaye

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Hi! I am a former dancer returning to ballet for the second time in 8 years. I just started dancing again in September, and am performing in the school's recital next weekend doing the Sugar Plum variation.

Does anyone have any tips on building stamina? I'm not having trouble doing the steps; I would almost venture to say that I even look good. :) But I'm practically hyperventilating by the time I get to the series of pique turns at the end! Any thoughts?

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LOL, Merry...you are such a wit! You always make me smile!

I am only a beginner adult dancer but I have a lot of stamina which comes from years of hiking and working out so I don't think that it can come overnight. Maybe if you get lots of early nights with good solid sleep, eat very well with lots of greens and fruit and lean protein all week and don't drink alcohol...that might help...?

Actually, that might be good advice for ANY time....lol

Though one HAS to have a glass or two of wine or egg nog at this time if atall possible!!! ;) Mayeb skip it for your ballet run...

If you had more time to prepare yourself, I would say that hiking and working out would help but you wouldn't want to tire yourself out and stamina, I believe, is built clowly...so the sleeping, eating well, maybe juicing and / or taking vitamins route might make more sense....

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Okay, I suppose I should have read through and edited that post! :) Obviously, I won't have more stamina by next weekend, it was more of a general inquiry and maybe something to work on over the next week with the hopes that it will marginally improve before then. It's just much more obvious when I'm rehearsing for the show than just doing short combinations in a beginning/intermediate level class.

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Well, I'm assuming you're doing the Petipa choreography?

 

I'm more of a ballon/quick dancer, but I love, love, love the pointework of this variation. However, with all the suspension-esque type movement, I find that I often hold my breath in this variation, and thus am also out of breath by those last piques. Remember, remember, remember, to breathe. There are lots of good moments to do so!

 

Also, you may wish to try running the variation twice. Run once, take a 30 second break for water or whatever, start over. I bet by next weekend you won't be able to run it twice fully in a row, but that your stamina will slowly increase.

 

You may also want to think about similar 'sustain' type exercises -- the plank, etc., that might help. However, as you add these in, the comments about making sure you have energy, via your diet and sleep, are important, especially these are a lot of changes to be made in a short time -- don't overdo it, and do take care of yourself.

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Well, I'm assuming you're doing the Petipa choreography?

 

I'm more of a ballon/quick dancer, but I love, love, love the pointework of this variation. However, with all the suspension-esque type movement, I find that I often hold my breath in this variation, and thus am also out of breath by those last piques. Remember, remember, remember, to breathe. There are lots of good moments to do so!

 

Also, you may wish to try running the variation twice. Run once, take a 30 second break for water or whatever, start over. I bet by next weekend you won't be able to run it twice fully in a row, but that your stamina will slowly increase.

 

You may also want to think about similar 'sustain' type exercises -- the plank, etc., that might help. However, as you add these in, the comments about making sure you have energy, via your diet and sleep, are important, especially these are a lot of changes to be made in a short time -- don't overdo it, and do take care of yourself.

 

It isn't the Petipa choreography. It was choreographed by my teacher. I will definitely try to be more conscious of my breathing! I remember hearing that when I was learning the Petipa version 13 years ago.

 

What is the plank? I haven't heard of it. I'm looking for exercises I can do in the limited amount of space I have at home.

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Did you find it? I recommended it because it requires you to constantly maintain your core, and in my experience, breathe through it. Don't go crazy though -- you'll have sore upper arms, shoulders. Does the version you're doing resemble the Petipa in 'feel'?

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I'm sorry, I shouldn't have joked without saying something sensible as well! :wink:

 

With only a few days to go I think if you try to improve your stamina by doing more physical exercise you may be exhausted rather than energised by performance time!

 

For the time being perhaps you should concentrate on your breathing? If you are nervous before performance your breathing may become more shallow and accelerated. If you practice taking in slow deep breaths through the nose and slowly out through the mouth, really focusing on fully filling and emptying your lungs, whenever you have the opportunity from now on, you may find you notice the difference when you dance as deep breathing does get more oxygen into the system and you won't feel exhausted too quickly. Doing the same whilst you are in the wings before performance will help the nerves and the body!

 

Reminding your lungs they have a good capacity and what that feels like, can only help. Plus stretching and relaxing the intercostal muscles (those between each pair of ribs) is like a mini work out in itself!

 

Obviously you can't continue this very slow breathing pattern whilst you are actually dancing, but it's worth thinking about how you breath during rehearsal etc. If you are anything like me, there is the inclination to breath in before the exercise begins and then to stop breathing until desparation sets in, but by then it's too late to recover until the exercise is over! You should concentrate on breathing properly BEFORE you get to the puffing stage! It may help to build breathing into the choreography so you actually breath in the same places on each repeat - soon it will seem natural and you won't need to think about it too much.

 

 

All the best for your performance - I'm sure you will do fabulously :)

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Did you find it? I recommended it because it requires you to constantly maintain your core, and in my experience, breathe through it. Don't go crazy though -- you'll have sore upper arms, shoulders. Does the version you're doing resemble the Petipa in 'feel'?

 

Found it! I will add that to my Pilates/stretching routine. Yes, it does resemble the Petipa in feel. I think my breathing may very well be my biggest problem. By the end I'm lightheaded. I noticed halfway through the variation yesterday that my breathing was very shallow and when I started breathing more deeply, I felt much better able to consciously point my feet, turnout, and extend my legs.

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"It may help to build breathing into the choreography so you actually breath in the same places on each repeat - soon it will seem natural and you won't need to think about it too much."

 

 

That's a fabulous idea! Thanks so much, everyone, for your help.

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Yup -- I have the same thing. I actually find it easier to breathe through the fast stuff -- this type of variation makes me really, really think of my breathing. I think this will help you loads!

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