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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Is it too high for me?


05blob

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I take three classical ballet classes a week. In the advanced student ballet class (ISTD grade 5 and above) the teacher makes us do stretches at the barre before we go to the center. We put our leg on the barre and face our leg and then bend towards it and then away from it. We then pivot so that the leg is in second (still on the barre) and bend towards the leg and away from the leg. Then we pivot so that the leg is behind us and do back bend and forward bend. We then repeat the whole exercise on the other leg.

I understand why we do these barre stretches but is it good for you if the barre is to high?

I am 4ft11 and when I put my leg on the barre it means my leg is higher than 90 degrees and when we go to do it with the leg behind us the knee of my supporting leg keeps locking, I am unable to keep the leg that is on the barre straight, I lift my hips and I cannot hold my turnout on the supporting leg (My teacher points these out lots)

Is there a way I can stop this happening?

Or is the barre too high for me? If this is the case what can I do I use the lowest barre.

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Hi, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. If, when you are doing the stretch with the leg in quatrieme derriere all these things start to go wrong suddenly, then you're twisting. As you are shorter than 5 feet tall, you may not have the flexibility to do it properly. For the time being, place the working leg on the lower barre. Pull up out of the supporting leg and hip, and don't worry quite so much about the working hip staying down. It has to open slightly in order to raise the leg above about 45°. It mustn't splay wide open, but it has to open somewhat.

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05, are you saying you are using the lowest barre and your leg is still too high for you to remain placed, or is there a lower barre?

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05, are you saying you are using the lowest barre and your leg is still too high for you to remain placed, or is there a lower barre?

I use the lowest barre there is and its just above my hip level

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You should be okay for the front and side, but I would strongly suggest that you talk to your teacher about not doing the one with the leg on the barre at the back. Just tell her that it hurts your knees because the barre is too high for you to do it correctly.

 

Personally, I don't like those stretches at all, and don't teach them. I will do the front and side, but only standing in croisé to the barre for front, and facing the barre for side. That way one can control the hyperextension of the standing leg and keep the pressure off of the achilles tendon of the working leg, if the weight is maintained correctly on the standing leg. I do not use the barre for an arabesque stretch because I find no way to do it without distortion for most people, and the hyperextension problem too. I would not give any of these stretches to someone who is too small to place the leg on the barre without these distortions, as there is no benefit to working things in incorrect positions. Safer to stretch on the floor where you can control your weight placement and degree of stretch.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I talked to my teacher and she said to just do it with less turnout but even in parallel it was still locking so she told me to do it on a bent leg. Will have to try that next lesson

Edited by 05blob
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I think you might need to search for a teacher who knows how to deal with hyperextended legs, and also doesn't ask students to do stretches that hurt them. As I said above, that stretch is really not a good one, in my opinion, even for someone working on a barre that is not too high for them and is not hyperextended. I can't find any purpose in it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My teacher makes us do these as well, and I've noticed that I get dizzy very easily. He does these at the end of our barre, which by then I am very tired and out of breath anyway.

I have not been eating right this week so it's no excuse but I have been getting nauseated from all the port de bras and multitasking leg stretching.

I should probably check the nutrition form for my eating schedule stuff but I agree that these stretches are becoming increasingly more unpleasant.

 

Edit: He usually lets us do floor splits instead if we want to unless he has a very exact agenda for that day.

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