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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When is it necessary to be excused from P.E. class?


JosephineM

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I've been reading the posts about girls being excused from P.E. class. From what I can tell, the main reason is regarding running. That since most girls "run like dancers - turned out" there is a possible risk of injury to the knees (and maybe the hips?) And contact sports like soccer may be dangerous, so you don't really want them in those. Here's my problem.....I asked my academic school about being excused, and my request was denied. I'm now wondering if I need to appeal the decision, or just leave it be.

 

So, my question is this...is it really necessary to be excused from P.E. at this age/level, or can my daughter continue to participate and I shouldn't be worried about the risks? DD is age 11 (6th Grade) and her ballet schedule is 4 days per week (4 technique of 1 1/2 hours each and 2 pointe of 1/2 hour each, so 7 hours total). No other dance classes, but now adding Nutcracker rehearsals.

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The problem with running is, as you noted, running turned out. However, as Clara76 has so astutely pointed out on occasion, 'turn out' is a tool the dancer uses. And, like every other tool in every other aspect of life, it should be put away when not needed.

 

For stability and development, the dancer should strive to walk parallel ----and run parallel---when they are not dancing. Parallel is the natural position and those muscles need to be used and kept strong----just like the turn out muscles need to be used and developed for ballet.

 

So, as I've come to understand it, there is nothing inherently wrong with running for our DKs---it is just that they need to know when to use turn out and when not to. And in every day life, the turn out tool should be put away and the natural parallel gait should be resumed.

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I agree with dancemaven unreservedly. I have been asked by parents why it is bad to walk or run turned-out in everyday life when they do that all the time in ballet, and it is a good question. It is easier to show in person, but in case anyone's curious, I will try to describe it here. When a dancer walks or runs turned out in ballet, s/he is turning out the whole leg from the hip and leading with the inside of the leg, heel, etc. The whole leg is consciously turned out at all times, with the knees and toes aligned. When a dancer walks turned out in every day life, s/he places the foot down in a turned out position, but because s/he is not thinking about turning out the whole leg, the thigh and knee pull forward toward a parallel position while the foot is still turned out, twisting the knee and ankle. It is much better, therefore, to walk and run parallel, as this keeps the knees and feet in the same alignment.

 

It also eliminates the stereotypical awkward ballet dancer "duck walk" and produces a more elegant way of walking for outside the studio. :grinning:

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Just wanted to add that it seems as they get older, some kids' reasons to be excused from PE is simply a time issue. At dd's studio, a lot of kids come from outside the city, and are excused from PE so that they can make it to the studio in time. When dd is in high school we will try to get her excused from PE for that same reason.

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  • 1 month later...
ballonne mama

I was happy to see this subject! My daughter has had a few injuries in gym class, such as: broken finger, minor sprained ankle and a strained hip. She's not yet been injured at ballet even though she takes 5 classes per week, plus rehearsal! Her school has a really strong commitment to phi ed- which is GREAT! - just not a particularily good match for match for a kid training outside of school at a high level.

 

How would I approach the opt out of gym class? They get really annoyed if I have to pull her out early for performances, and I'm honestly kind of scared to think how they'd respond to the request?

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I think it depends on the school. My daughter goes to private school, and my request to be excused from PE was denied. Most of her friends go to public school, and they obtained forms from their school that they brought to the ballet school and had the teacher/director complete for them, and then they were excused from PE for the remainder of the school year. The ballet school had to provide the number of hours of ballet, etc.

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My DD also attends private school and opting out of gym is not possible, so we have approached it by working within the range of sports offered. Dd's gym options allow for minimal running (volleyball, softball) and fortunately a dance option is also offered at the school for gym credit.

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My DD also attends private school (parochial). Through elementary & middle school she was required to take PE. This is different in HS. She dances on our school dance team and they practice 3-4 mornings per week for 1 1/2 hrs before school. We had to document how much physical activity DD does per week & she received a waiver for PE classes. I think this is due to the fact that there is a state requirement re: physical activity for the school. Between dance team, cheerleading, show choir, dance classes & dance company it was no problem to acheive the required number of hours!

 

Although I will say that she still has to meet conditioning (running & areobics) requirements for Show Choir!

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When dd was in private middle school, her sports medicine physician wrote the school a letter stating that dd was an elite ballet dancer in training (with hours per week inserted here) with a history of overuse injuries and then described the types of activities that would be acceptable for her. These included: pilates, yoga, swimming. The MD stated that unless the school was able to provide these activities, she should be excused from PE classes to avoid injury. The school immediately excused her. You might try asking your dk's MD for a note like this.

 

When dd was in public high school, she asked the ballet school for a letter detailing her hours in training. She was excused from PE and it counted for credit! She was required to complete a course in health though.

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ballonne mama

Ooo great advise and ideas! Thank you!

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