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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A la seconde en l'air


balletmamma

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Hi. My daughter has been told two different things about doing a la seconde en l'air. One teacher allows the hip to go up for higher extension. Another teacher says the hip must stay down. Is this due to two different styles of ballet? Is one accurate and one not? Or are they both accurate, but depending on which style of ballet ie Vaganova, Cecchetti, etc.?

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balletmamma, in Vaganova schooling the hips must remain level as the leg extends to the side at 90 degrees however level becomes a relative term. According to the rules of Vaganova schooling, the leg lifts to the side, keeping the hips as level as possible however it is a known fact that the hips will change to a certain extent as the leg rises. Could it be that there is a language discrepancy? Is English the 1st language of both teachers?

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English is not the first language of one of the teachers. Perhaps that's why it sounds different from each teacher. Thanks for your explanation.

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  • 2 years later...

May I ask regarding developpe a la seconde, DD14 has been doing many strengthening and stretching exercises to increase the height of her extensions, and she complains that her "upper quad" does not "make room" for the height of her leg. It sounds like she feels she can get her leg higher, but her quad doesn't allow for that. Is this possible? And if so, can she do anything about it?

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Well, I do understand. I think the muscles that really come into play are under your leg, rather than the quad. Maybe not so much as under but the muscles that face eachother when standing, on the inside of the leg. Because when your leg is turned out, this would be the lifting muscle. Its really hard to feel but she can probably hold her leg high with her arm, right? Its really just a strengthening thing and it seems to get higher in very little increments - at least for my kid.

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So, in other words, her quads are likely too big and getting in the way of her using the correct muscles? Thanks for your advice! :)

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Well, I wouldn't say that they are too big necessarily. But they are so easy to feel and to rely on. Its hard (for me anyway) to feel the correct muscles and not use so much of th quad. So with training and really honing in on the different muscle groups, she'll eventually get those other muscles involved. There is also the psoas muscle in the hip area that sometimes holds you back a bit. Its easy to grip that muscle when you really need to learn to relax that muscle to allow for more range. It would be very helpful if she could take a floor barre class where she would really be able to isolate different muscle groups and feel whats going on.

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Ah, gotcha! That makes sense. Thank you for the feedback. I will check around to see if there is a floor barre class somewhere locally. Good idea! :)

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I am sorry to say, but the quadracep does the lifting to the front and the side, turned out or not. The hamstrings do the stretching.

 

As for the quadracep not fitting because it is too big, I have never seen this in my 45 years of teaching ballet. Tell your daughter to ask her teacher for help rather than take advice from else where. A physical therapist who understands ballet might be of assistance as well.

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Thank you vrsfanatic. :) DD is one of those that is very specific in what she feels, but not very good at explaining it to others. :) I doubt that it is an issue of her quad being too big, because her legs are thin, but she does develop muscle easily, so any wrong use might create bulk where it isn't needed, I suppose. Upon further questioning, She says it is less about the lifting and more about the straightening of the knee. When she straightens her knee (using her quad) in developpe it seems to be harder for her to get her leg high (and by high, I mean closer to her ear. She lifts it pretty high already IMO). Is this possibly an anatomical thing? I can ask a dance Pilates instructor, but we don't see a PT on a regular basis (due to not really needing one). Thanks for your thoughts!

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Yes, ask your Pilates teacher, but ask the ballet teacher too.

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I was just trying to emphasize that the quad is not the only muscle invited to the party here. They for sure do the work of extending the leg and are involved, but deep ab muscles and the various hip flexors play a pretty big role as well. And its easy to grip quads and kind of fight yourself. I have issues with over gripping my flexors, my neice had issues with over gripping her quads. Pilates, yoga, floor barre all very helpful for stretching, strengthening and for learning how to feel your muscles working!

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