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Ballet Talk for Dancers

18 year old beginner with scoliosis


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Hey guys!


I'm an 18 year old girl who is having her very first ballet lesson on Tuesday :D I've been dreaming of this day for nearly my entire life!! My parents had been unable to pay for lessons when I was very young. Although we were back on our feet later on in my life (I was around 10-11 years old) I was greatly discouraged by everyone around me as that had been 'too late'. I believed them, but my passion and love for ballet never went away. Now, at 18 years old, I am finally able to live my dream.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 14. I have two curves, the top one measuring at 15 degrees and the bottom at 40. It's barely noticeable, I just have dull pains along my neck/back. I don't know to what extent my scoliosis will limit my dancing :unsure:


I was wondering if anybody on here has scoliosis or anything of the sort that could share their experience or give any tips.

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No tips, but encouragement. I know several people who dance with scoliosis. The director at my daughters' school has scoliosis. And, Wendy Whelan is a famous ballerina who has scoliosis.

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Miss Persistent

How exciting Stefy! Good on you for getting in to ballet class (And welcome to BT4D's too!)


Two things you might notice with scoliosis and ballet are;

1) Sometimes a move will feel quite easy when you do it to one side, and significantly far less easy when you do it to the other!

2) You might find one side of your body or certain spots feels more stiff or over-worked after class because of the scoliosis - It's usually because the muscles one one side, or in one area, are having to work extra hard to try and hold you in a position due to the curves. It's usually not something that should stop you from dancing straight off, but it might need monitoring as if you let one side get too stiff then it will affect your alignment and your scoliosis even more than usual.


I'm guessing you have a great bunch of professional health practitioners that you see for your scoliosis already, I would just let them know you've started ballet and ask them to keep an eye out for any changes. Monitor it yourself too and if you are confident with self massage techniques like foam rolling or using a tennis ball they are great ways to keep on top of any niggles. You might also find it's not always your back that hurts too! It can affect up or down your body, into legs (especially your calves surprisingly!) or out into arms - everyone is different so just be observant.


I danced in a small professional company and I have scoliosis (with a rotation and a curve). Another girl who is a principal with the company has a severe scoliosis, but she is one of the most beautiful dancers I've seen. One of the Principal dancers in the Australian Ballet has a scoliosis so when she does Swan Lake they reverse all the penchee's to be on her good side!


The great news is, with careful training and good attention to detail, ballet can actually help scoliosis sometimes as it can help strengthen your postural muscles and helps you to learn good alignment. Good luck and enjoy ballet! :clapping:

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Hello there,


I too have a moderate scoliosis, yet like you I've only just started ballet. I would definitely agree with what Miss Persistent has said about it being easier to do certain things on one side then it is on the other. I experienced this yesterday in particular with Developpe, easily capable of holding my leg high when facing one direction but when on the otherside I was shaking, attempting to keep it up.


The other thing you might find more difficult is keeping your hips straight, I tend to find personally that my hips twist when doing certain exercises.


I think the main thing is to build up core muscle strength, once you have this it should hopefully become easier.


As I'm sure you've found with anything that you do such as other sports or activities... if it hurts then just stop and take it from another approach, don't take it so high or decrease the amount of turnout. Whatever you feel helps, the worst thing you can do is push yourself over the edge.


I would let your teacher know, just so that he or she is aware.


Good luck, you'll love it, I know for sure I am. Since starting I have actually found I'm sitting up straighter, and walking with less of a stunt so ballet can certainly have its benefits to those suffering with scoliosis.

Edited by Guest
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I have scoliosis (and just found out my oldest dd does as well); but my curve is about 10 degrees and I have been dancing most of my life (not as a professional, but a "serious" recreational dancer). It has never been a problem for me. In fact, as I've gotten older and focused more on ballet than the other forms of dance I used to take, it has actually helped me because my core muscles are stronger.


Welcome to the world of ballet and good luck to you!

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Stefy, and to the Adult Ballet Students forum. Lots of great advice, understanding & cameraderie here.


As for scoliosis, you'd be surprised at how many people have a form of very mild scoliosis which results in a slight unevenness between the two sides of the body -- one leg slightly longer than the other, one foot slightly larger than the other, and so on. Lots of very accomplished dancers have these "imperfect" bodies: it's actually quite normal (and makes you rethink the idea of the "perfect body).


And as others have remarked, learning good correct technique -- slooooooowly --- (which can sometimes be frustrating) will actually help you in every day life. You'll learn how to engage your core muscles to help you align your spine.


Have a look at Clara's Sticky on alignment at the top of this section of the messageboard. THat's a good start to help you visualise your skeleton. Eric Franklin's books on visualisation for dance are also excellent, and will help you learn about the anatomical issues in dance.

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Thank you so much to everybody who has talked to me about this! You're all so nice and welcoming, I feel way more confident staring now.

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Hi Stefy,


I too know someone around your age who does ballet (very well!) with quite bad scoliosis.


The most important thing is that you make your teacher aware that you have this condition and of how it affects you, for example if a particular move hurts or is impossible to do, so she can make allowances or suggest adjustments that may help.


Yes ballet can be very beneficial for scoliosis when taught by someone with a good understanding of how muscles work and under the monitoring of medical professionals who can advise of what moves are best avoided or modified.



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