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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Sucking the belly in


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My 10 yo DD teacher keeps telling me that my DD has lots of trouble keeping her belly sucked in. She is not overweight but she has a little bit of a belly so I think it is hard for her to keep her belly sucked in. Is it normal for a child of her age not to be able able to do that? I know that the abdominal muscles are usually not very well developed in young children. Should I be encouraging her to do some exercises that help strengthen the abdominal muscles? Is pilates something we should look into? I don't think I can afford to give her pilates lessons and her studio does not teach it but I was thinking of getting a DVD. I actually want to do pilates myself and I thought this might be a fun thing for us to do together.

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Myrrha, using the abdominal muscles does take a little time for some children, but it is all part of learning correct alignment, which really should have been established by 10 if she has been studying a while. How long has she been studying, and how many classes a week? I'm not fond of the term "sucking in" at all. They just need to be taught how to use those muscles along with the other muscles that establish correct alignment. Pilates might be helpful, but I am wary of learning it from DVD. I really think it needs to be learned one on one, and with your DD, finding a teacher who was a dancer would be best. Once the basics are learned and one knows how to do them correctly, then you could work at home with a DVD.

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My DD has been taking ballet for almost 5 years now. She has 3 ballet classes , 1 jazz, 1 contemporary a week. She still doesn't seem to be able to hold herself as a ballet dancer should for very long, she'll be a little slouched, belly sticking out, arms and hands droopy. But, she can for a minute look beautiful, perfectly upright, arms in good position , belly in, but then when the teacher takes her eyes off her, she loses it. Is it unrealistic to expect her to keep herself in perfect position the whole class?

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Well, I would say it might unrealistic to expect "perfect" position for the whole class, but I would expect a 10 year old, 3 classes a week student to be able to do it most of the time. Without alignment and correct weight placement, there will not be rotation or correct usage of anything. It's an A, B, C, thing. You don't build a building without the foundation in place.


That said, does she also stand that way all time? If it is habitual, it is going to take correcting every day, all waking hours. She is going to have to WANT to do it, and to accept reminders all the time to get this corrected. But she also has to fully understand HOW to do it. Is it possible that she is not learning that from her teacher? Do the other students stand much better?


There are, very rarely, some children who do not have good muscle tone and seem to actually lack the ability to maintain correct posture, alignment and weight placement. That would need to be determined by a physician, or at least a highly qualified physical therapist. I would suggest starting with Pilates with a qualified, preferably former dancer, Pilates instructor. You need to find out WHY she is not able to stand up straight.

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