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When doing a penché at the barre, my leg stops rising just under 180 degrees. However, when my teacher corrects it and pushes it over, it easily reaches 180 degrees. I can do both of my splits easily but I cannot seem to reach that point on my own. My leg does not naturally reach it, so should I work on oversplits, or is it just that I need to work on muscle strengthening to fix my penchés?



****************P.S. sorry if I spelled penché wrong :P

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Esmeralda, a penché should not even be 180º unless one is doing a very contemporary work. That is beyond a classical penché line, and it is not expected of very young teen dancers. You need to stop stressing about what you can't yet accomplish, and work on perfecting what you can do well at your age and level. You are not supposed to look like a professional dancer yet!


And NO, do not work on oversplits! :rolleyes:

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  • 3 weeks later...

You said not to practice your oversplits; is it bad for you? My friend told me it puts stress on your knees or something, but I'm not sure. I'd like to know if it can do damage or not, because recently I've been trying to get more flexible and sometimes I do oversplits....

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If you are not naturally super flexible, oversplits can definitely do some damage. And, even if you are super flexible, if your knees are hyperextended, that is really asking for trouble. They are not necessary, and their potential for damage is much worse than any help they could do.

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Oh! Okay! Thanks for clarifying :) Even if you're not hyper-extended, but naturally flexible, are they still bad for you?


I know you said that 180 degree penches aren't really expected, but I feel like they kinda are....:unsure: I'd really like to get my penche 180 degrees....I definitely have the flexibility....so is it strength?


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I think oversplits are dangerous and unnecessary. Period. If you have the flexibility for 180 degree penché, that is fine for contemporary ballets. Beyond that is acrobatics and belongs in the circus.

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I never knew that a penché was meant to be below 180 degrees!!! Thank you! Mine is around 160 degrees, is that an acceptable penché? What height is the ideal penché?

Edited by Sophaloaf
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Arabesque isn't really about the height of the extension. It's about line. An "arabesque" in art is a spiral form of decoration frequently found in borders or as ornament to a larger solid object. Similarly, an arabesque in ballet is based on the spiral form. The tight part of the coil is found at around chest level and the "tail" of the curl is the leg. If the extension breaks up that line, it wrecks the arabesque.

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Yes, and wasn't Margot Fonteyn famous for her 90 degree arabesque? She was an amazing dancer!


(If I'm not allowed to comment, moderators, please remove this :))

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  • 2 weeks later...

So what does over splits do to you if you have hyper extended legs? Is it really that dangerous?

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Dancers who have hyperextended legs have overstretched tendons and ligaments from being in a weight-bearing position without the bones of the body properly aligned. It may not affect them while they are in the kind of physical shape required of professional ballet, but once that career is over and the body can no longer support that level of physical fitness, the synovial sacs in the knees will degenerate causing arthritis.


The oversplit may be an accepted part of gymnastics and competition style dance, but it is definitely not recommended for classical ballet.

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