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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Shoulders rolling forward


Marjolein

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Whenever I do pirouettes (amongst other things), my shoulders roll forward. This is the last remainder of an old habit of really bad posture. I used to anways have my shoulders really forward (partially because I used to be really shy). My posture is much much better now, but when I do pirouettes, my shoulders automatically roll forward again. I know the easy solution would just be to not let them roll forward, but as this has been a problem for 10 years, that's obviously not working. What could I do to help me keep my shoulders back?

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Have you thought trying to feeling an elastic from shoulders to hips? Not the top of the shoulder, but the tip/pointy part of the shoulder blade. I am searching for more descriptive words, but for lack of anything else, like a criss cross bra, but crossing in your back.! :blush:

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If you're not already, focus on the proper placement of your shoulders and back in the preparation for your turn. Hopefully if you set yourself up properly, nothing will collapse in the turn itself, which really happens so quickly at that point.

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I know the easy solution would just be to not let them roll forward, but as this has been a problem for 10 years, that's obviously not working. What could I do to help me keep my shoulders back?

 

Unfortunately Marjolein, this is not actually the easy solution - it's the hard one! As Vrsfanatic has already said, you need to somehow be able to learn to control them - imagery like that is a great start.

 

The important thing to remember is that as an adult, you are not just learning new motor neuron patterns, but learning to override pre-existing ones. Your body has worked a certain way for a long time, and now your trying to make it automatically work a different way!

 

Imagery, practicing ports de bras, releves with your shoulders back, maybe some gentle strengthening work etc and LOTS of persistence will help you to develop the new motor neuron patterns you need for it all to happen without thinking.

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Miss Schneider, I'll try that in my next class. Yesterday in jazz class, we had to do pirouettes starting with just a balance in passé and building up from just a quarter turn to a full turn and beyond. I really tried to think about my shoulders in the balance and the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 turn because you have more time in such small turns and I hope practicing it like that will help me always pull them back.

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After awhile one must just turn to feel what it is like to turn. The breakdown of movement is fasinating and wonderful however one also needs to know what it feels like to just turn. Once you know that feeling sometimes it helps to work on correcting the lines that do not look exactly balletic. :wink:

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It might help to think about pulling the shoulder blades down rather the shoulders back.

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I second Hamorah's suggestion. Pilates has helped me enormously in how I use my back in ballet class. Activating and strenghtening the lats via pilates would probably help you from day to day, too, which means the habit of pulling your shoulder blades down would become more engrained for you - not just something that happends during class.

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Unfortunately, Pilates is not possible because of finances. My shoulders are definitely down but I see how thinking about keeping them down will help keeping them back. Thanks a lot!

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If it helps, I know a stretch which helps to open up the chest (I was given this by a physio. I had sustained a chest injury and had got into the habit of rolling my shoulders forward to 'protect' the chest). Do let me know if you want the details.

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Thoracic Release

 

1.Roll a hand towel into a "sausage shape" length wise. It should be no fatter than your fist.

2.Place towel on floor.

3.Lie on towel with spine directly over it.

4.Your head should be flat on ground. Your legs can be bent at the knee or flat with a pillow under them.

5.Be careful not to arch your back.

6.Take both arms out to the side and bend them at the elbow so that your forearm is at 90 degrees and and your hands are pointing up towards your head. Your forearm should be resting on the floor.

7.Lie like this for 10 minutes, consciously thinking about relaxing your back, chest and shoulders.

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When I said shoulder 'blades' I meant the wing shaped bones in your back. Your shoulders can be down and still roll forward. You also don't want them to go back too much because then you'll be arching. What you want to do is to open them wide - thinking about those blades in your back helps pull the shoulders down and out. Hope that's clearer :)

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Thank you for specifying that Hamorah. :thumbsup:

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Thank you, that's great advice. Now all I need is this horrible sinusitis to clear up so I can go back to class and try it!

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