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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Straight knees


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I don't have the ideal ballet body, and while I'm very petite, I've found that my body really wasn't built for ballet. However, I have no intentions of becoming professional, so I'm starting to realize I need to work with what I've got. It just takes a little extra work to make my lines look good, but one thing I've struggle with is my knees and I'm wondering if there is anything I can to do make my knees look straighter. Granted, they are straight, and look straight for the most part, but behind my knees is a more inward curve than on outward curve, if that makes sense.balso, when in first, the inside of my thighs do not touch. This has nothing to do with my weight, but rather the structure if my legs. Can better lines be accomplished with more flexibility or strength? Does anyone else have a similar problem? Thanks.

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I think this post by Clara would be really helpful: http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=35504


Are you making sure your back is "straight" when you're in the 1st position? like your tailbone is not tucked in, and you have the slight S-shape curve in the back? And you're not "forcing" yourself to get into a certain degree of turnout?


The best way to find the natural turnout, I think, is to stand with your feet together (parallel, jazz first position) and then turn your feet out on your heels. Wearing socks or ballet slippers would help slide your feet better. This should be your natural turnout. If you put your feet together in what you think is the turnout (i.e. forcing yourself to get into the 180 deg turnout) then your thighs won't touch and you'll be putting too much tension on your ankles and knees. In the natural turnout, you should be able to straighten your back, your knees, your feel (not rolled inward), and be able to do grand plie without holding on to anything.



I also have keeping my knees straight when I push myself and force into certain turnout positions. It gets better when I adjust. Definitely try this. The turnout should be from the hips and not just the feet.

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When I started, I had a similar characteristic. Though I always believed my legs were straight, I always noticed it when standing in first. I never thought of it as a problem, however. I thought of it as just a characteristic. I mean I was trying to keep them as straight as I could.


Over time everything improved. I didn't do anything special. Just did a lot of classes.


In the last year I've gone back to some of the yoga stretches I used to do. Now when I am stretching the hamstrings, my feet are flexed, quads flexed and I think about rotating the pelvis. I don't bend the spine at all. Lots of flat backs done with those things in mind. When I do that I get a nice feeling behind the knees that I really like. I have no idea whether or not that affects the knee's range of motion, but it feels good.

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Think loooong leg thoughts whenever you extend your legs :) i had the same problem as a student - it can have to do with tension in the hamstrings, but also in the calf muscles, feet, facia in the back of the legs - a whole bunch of stuff. If you can work out where the main ares of restriction in it might help. i know for me it was always the very, very top of my calf muscles where they start to cross the back of the knee.

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Rotation, rotation, rotation!! But properly controlled and properly built rotation. Miss Leigh has given an exercise on the board here in several places (though I can't take the time to find the posts now) with a tennis b a l l for dancers who are hypoextended. Maybe try using the Search function for the word "Hypoextended", and see what pops up!

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Thanks everyone for the info, I found it all very helpful!

While I was at the gym today I decided to do a standing hamstring stretch and sitting hamstring stretch (straight knees, feet together, trying to get chest to my thighs) and realized I feel the most stretch behind my knees and in my calves, I never realized how tight the backs of my knees and calves are! I always thought because I had my splits and good hamstring flexibility, that my ENTIRE leg was flexible. So not true! So I am going to start stretching the backs of my knees and calves too and see if this helps. Perhaps maybe others with this problem could try this and see if they find it helpful :-)

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Then I think downward dog pose might be really helpful for you. I have been doing yoga for the past 10 yrs and I have my favorite poses--this is pne of them :)

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I always thought because I had my splits and good hamstring flexibility, that my ENTIRE leg was flexible.


Given how many layers of muscles our legs have (think quadriceps -- "quad" means 4, for example), we all need to work for all-round flexibility. To be honest, I've never found doing the splits to be a good indicator of flexibility -- they're often achieved because of the body weight bearing down.


I think that Clara & Ms Leigh have often said here that real flexibility is about developing what you can use and work with at the barre and in the centre.


Just a word of caution: if you find that doing the seated stretches and straight leg hamstring stretches alerted you to tightness, you might be best doing hem with softened knees. That will protect your tight muscles from being put under too much strain, and also protect your back. Start with very slightly bent knees (a little more than softened), and as you breathe out into the stretch (breath is important, I find) and deepen it, you can slowly straighten your knees, but keep them soft until you feel that your calves and back of he knees are feeling softer.

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