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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Placement


NikkisMamma

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DD (will be 12 in Sept) was told she isn't going to be moving up this summer/fall because she needs to work on placement, turnout and some foot/leg articulation. I have a general idea of what this means, but I would like to have it more thoroughly explained if anyone has the time.

 

I *think* it means general body alignment. What I can tell from the outside, my DD has a slight tendency to push out her bottom instead of keeping the straighter line I see in the other dancers. She has somewhat poor rotation from the hips, her left side being worse than her right, and subsequently her left foot has less turnout. She is very flexible (has had all her splits with ease since 7), she can lift and hold her legs very high and straight in ronde de jambes and other similar exercises and has *almost* full split leaps. To the layman, she looks like she is clearly one of the best in her class but I'm now understanding that if she's doing things incorrectly, that needs to be fixed before she can move on.

She just started pointe and from the outside, it is pretty obvious that she's having a bit of a hard time with it, she's struggling to completely straighten her legs but it has improved during the 5-6 20-30min classes they have had. Her feet are very strong but not super flexible, definitely no banana feet. ;)

 

Her AD has told her her hips are too tight, so she is working on several stretches given to her by the AD. DD told me shortly after we got the letter [about her not moving up] that she felt something "click" in her thinking/moving during class and that she felt she is "getting" the corrections given her about her hips better now. During a recent private, the AD worked singularly on this issue and the difference was very obvious from the outside (straighter body through head to toe). The AD told her if she can keep this "new" posture up she has a very good chance at moving back up with her classmates soon, which is DDs goal (as well as becoming a better dancer, of course). DD will be taking a lower level technique class next year to concentrate on things, she took one last week and has already decided that she wants to keep doing that regardless of when she meets her goal of moving back to her classmates because she said it felt really good to be able to completely concentrate on the "simpler" things. She definitely is hungry for more advanced things, don't get me wrong, but she wants to keep taking the lower level class simply to work on her technique.

She (DD) reads lots about ballet and devours everything about hips and turnout (she owns a nice anatomy for dance book), and her and her AD discussed the mechanics of it all during their last private.

 

I think *she* is probably more aware of what it means than I am. I would just like to have a better understanding of it so *I* can help her as well. I trust her AD and with several more privates coming up, believe that they will work hard on the issue as long as DD can also maintain it in normal class. This week has been all about the recital so sadly she hasn't really had a chance to take much of a regular class to test her improved alignment out.

Is "placement" more than what I have described them working on here? Sorry for the long post, I'm just trying to give as much of a background as possible. :) Thanks!! (and now off to all day recital)

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NikkisMama, it is fine to want to understand more about ballet, but we really do not recommend that parents try to "help". The work needs to be done by the teacher. If your DD will accept it, you could gently remind her about her posture if you see her not standing up straight at home, but it really should not go beyond that. Encourage her to practice the mechanics, not the steps and tricks, and that correcting things like alignment needs to become an all day everyday thing. It takes getting rid of old habits, ie, old ways of standing and sitting even outside of class, in order to make the new way of standing and sitting a habit. If it is a habit all the time, then getting it in class will work a WHOLE lot better. :)

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One thing that I have found I *can* do as a parent, is to remind my younger dd's to remember the corrections that they are getting. I ask them to keep track (one does in her head, the other writes in her notebook) of any corrections that they got specifically or that they heard generally that they think they need to work on. Then I remind them (if I can) to check in with those things before they go to class. I don't even know what the corrections always are and I assume that I don't so much need to. The point for me is that they are thinking about what their teachers told them before they even go into class with the hopes that they will be able to retain those thoughts and try to implement them when they actually can apply them.

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NikkisMama, despite knowing it's a bad idea, I've tried correcting my DD here and there. Trust me - it's not a good dynamic and it doesn't work.

 

Your daughter sounds so smart and focused in her approach to ballet. It's really very mature to want to take a slower class to work on refining technique. That's great that she sees a slower class as an opportunity to work more correctly. She sounds like she's well on the way to helping herself!

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Thank you for your thoughts!

Ms Leigh, I absolutely trust that this is something DD and her AD/teacher will work on. My intention is not in any way to go in and interfere with what she is being taught, I simply want to understand more specifically what is meant by "placement". :) The only "corrections" I give my DD is to think about what her teacher is telling her, work on her corrections and remind her to do her stretches etc. I'm certainly not qualified to do anything else. :)

 

I do occasionally remind her of her posture and ask her how she felt her classes went [in reference to the issues she is working on as well as in general]. Not to correct her but to be invlved with what she does because she wants me to. It makes perfect sense to me that posture and alignment is something that needs to be worked on even out of class so it becomes automatic and not something she needs to think about...

 

She does write down all her corrections as well as many of the corrections given to others in her class. The girls were told to always bring a notebook to class a few levels ago.

 

Mathilde, she sees that *now* but the first time it was suggested [that she take a low level class] she didn't care much for the idea, she thought it would be embarrassing. She very much wants to take higher level classes and is always eager to learn new and exciting things. Now she does see the benefit of the lower level class and *she* is the one who made the suggestion to keep taking it even after she reaches her "goal", and I'm very proud of her for realizing that on her own.

 

Thanks again!!

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The only I have done to "help" is to ask the instructor if there is anything dd should be doing outside of class, have it explained to me if there is something, and to remind dd to set aside time for it. Educating yourself about dance is never a bad thing. It is our job as parents to protect our children.

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