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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I have quite a few dilemmas!


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Alright, so a few things you should know about me, in order to evaluate a response:

I am 14 years old, I'm going into my fourth year of pointe work, and I've been dancing for 11 years.

I'm 5' 5"

My hips are naturally uneven

I barely have a torso, and I'm all legs, with very skinny ankles.

I have a slight case of scoliosis in my lower back, but it wasn't severe enough to need a brace.

Since I was in third grade, I've wanted to dance as a professional dancer with the Royal Ballet in London (I even have some of their DVDs, along with the Bolshoi & Kriov/Mariinsky), and eventually a choreographer!

& I've had the opportunity to dance with Julie Kent, Irina Dvorovenko, Alexei Tyukov, Jose Manuel Correno, & Marcello Gomes.

My parents constantly tell me I'm not a good dancer and how I don't work hard enough. This lowers my self-esteem, but I try to ignore it.


Now, on to my problems/dilemmas!

1. Hopefully all of you have heard of the frog stretch (if not, google it). Naturally, my legs, hips/pelvis, &feet will be on the floor, & my feet will be only an inch or two away from my 'crotch'. People have told me I have excellent turnout based on this. But when I'm just standing, especially first & fifth position, I feel uncomfortable when I'm turning out. I have it, but i roll in terribly. When I hold my feet up, it hurts to stand. I try not to force turn out, since it's not good for me, but I feel like I should be able to. I don't feel like I can deliver what my teacher are looking for. Are there any suggestions or comments for my situation? Any specific stretches?


2. Pirouettes are my weakness. Or anything spotting for that matter. I started my studio's summer intensive program today, and we had a guest teacher that use to be a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. He noticed I was struggling with pirouettes, so he decided to give me a few tips; you want to take of from both feet, and instead of thinking about spotting, just leave your head, and eventually you'll bring it around. An hour of class has gone by, and I had not done one single, no doubles, but instead, triples and quads! I even felt that pause at the end of a pirouette when you've completed the pirouette, you're still in the position, and then your go down into your landing (in my case it was a lunge). It felt so good. Then, all of a sudden, I lost it all. I was back to my average singles and terrible doubles. Then it got to point class. I don't know if this had to do with new shoes or not (I've been using Grishko 2007s for the past few years, by the way), but when I went to do a pirouette, I would either land the turn without spotting, or I would spot and then fall out of the pirouette. I've been practicing this for a very long time, but I haven't seen any progress. Does anybody know any exercises I could do to improve my spotting, help me spot with pointe shoes on, and improve my balance in pirouette position specifically?


3. My teachers always call me lop-sided because my hips are very uneven, and I have scoliosis in my lower back (they cannot see it because it curves at the very end near my 'derriere': thankfully my leotard covers that area!) They tell me to stand up straight. When I feel that I'm straight, I look a tad bit lop-sided. Then, they place my torso so it appears more straight. 'Correct placement' of my torso in this case makes me feel extremely lop-sided and awkward to the point I would have a hard time dancing! I've mentioned my scoliosis and hips to my teachers, because they probably know more than I do, but they said it didn't matter. What should I do?


Also, if anybody has any suggestions on how to gain strength & front/back extension, please let me know!

Edited by Jocelyn
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  • Administrators

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Jocelyn.


You are asking a lot of questions at once here, and most of this material has been covered many times here on the board. The consensus about the frog stretch is that we don't like it, and it is not an accurate measurement of your rotation because things change when you are weight bearing. The stretch itself is hard on the knees, even if done correctly, which it usually isn't.


I will have to disagree with "just leaving the head and it will come around", as a general practice, but, perhaps the teacher was just using that to try and get you to relax your head and not try to push it into the spot. If it works for you, fine. But, generally the head shot turn very quickly with the turn to create clean spotting. Practice your spotting with chassé turns on relevé, not jumping. Piqué soutenu turns are also good for practicing spotting.


We cannot really address your alignment problems without seeing you, but generally, if the body is slightly crooked from scoliosis, it is possible to get it straight, but it means you have to make a habit of being there, even though at first it will feel crooked to you.


Strength in your extensions should improve as you near the end of your growing years. Flexibility usually comes first, especially in long legged people, and then strength. Just keep working in your classes, and when you do your grand battement allow them to go up quickly and come down more slowly, with a lot of control as it lowers through the tendu to the 5th. That will help with the strength. :)

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Thank you for the welcome and advice! I've never really gotten a clear response when it came to my 'posture'.


Also, I just experimented with a couple grand battement in my room, as you said, and I feel the muscles in my upper leg working. Thank you once more!

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  • Administrators

Jocelyn, you might want to spend some time reading some former threads here. We have a great deal of information on pirouettes, and some great topics on alignment and rotation. Check out this one from the Adult Students forum: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=35504

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