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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Strength for Attitude Devant


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My attitude devant is in need of some strength. I am not lifting my ankle to the height it needs to be, so my leg is not at table top level but closer to my foot pointing down (in a very awkward position). What exercises can I do to strengthen my positioning?

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Well, your foot pointing downward in attitude devant is quite beautiful and ideal actually! The higher your knee and thigh are while your foot is still able to point downward, the more lovely... but that gets into a controversial debate about aesthetics and winged feet, so let's not go there. Anyway! What you really should be concentrating on is lifting that thigh/knee, especially from underneath.


Luckily, strengthening exercises for attitude devant are rather plentiful. I like to stand with my hands on my hips in 1st position, take my working leg into attitude with the toes still touching the floor (kind of like a slightly bent knee tendu), and just do leg lifts. Up is the motivation and impetus of the movement (without distorting your body, supporting leg, or attitude shape... this is not about height, but repetition), and when you return your attitude toes to the ground, that should be a slower and controlled movement. You should feel this in your working glutes and hamstring. If you feel something on the outside hip of your supporting leg, lift your torso upwards more so you don't sink into your hip. I do about 10 reps on each side 3x's.


I also like to test height and alignment using my good old friend, gravity. Lying on my back, spine in neutral position, being sure to keep my hips grounded as possible and imagining my belly button going into the floor, I like to lift my turned out and pointed leg up as high as I can without twisting my body and becoming misaligned. The idea is that your hips are as even as possible. I'll hold that straight leg in the air for a few counts (8 perhaps), then I will attempt to take it higher (as in closer to my shoulder) while bending the knee in turn out into attitude devant. Again, you'll immediately feel this in your glutes. Hopefully you can take it a few centimeters closer to the shoulder in a nice long attitude, hold that again for a few more counts. As much as possible, try to keep your attitude long... as in not overly bent into a 90º angle.


Another variation I love, but is slightly advanced, is sitting with your knees bent. Keeping your back as straight as possible, take a slight lean so that you are sitting back on your "sit bones" in a v shape. So sitting back straight, your body would look like this |/\... but the position I'm talking about is V\ like in pilates. You can use your hands to brace yourself on the ground. Taking your right knee, turn it out and do the same leg lift repetitions: 10 on each side, 3x. The goal is to NOT curve your back, and be mindful of keeping that V position with your body, staying on the two sharp bones of your bottom pelvis. This will take some ab strength to keep the position, but that only helps with achieving a nice attitude! Also, try to not over activate your quadruceps. Of course your muscles work in groups, so they'll all work together or we'd be a big pile of meaty jelly, but as much as possible think of the other muscles that ballet will require you to use.


Generally, for things like attitude devant strength, height, (and most leg lifts for that matter!) your body will have to learn how to efficiently use the glutes, hamstrings, psoas and hip flexors too. I hope this was helpful?

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LaFilleSylphide - This is a fabulous explanation........I can't wait to try these exercises, for attitude deviant improvement as well as lots of other helpful strengthening! Thank you for the wonderful details, including the little diagrams!! :clapping::clapping:

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To add to this: while leg strength and turn out are important, I'd also say CORE. Abdominal strength is key to any leg lift. So Pilates or yoga or simply a good steady, slow development of abdominal muscles. Add in some slow abdominal exercises, for example: slow sit ups, really rolling through the spine, with breath. And the Plank exercise, but make sure your shoulders are not hunched and you're really working your breath. (I tend to find doing a full arm extended plank easier than leaning on my elbows - it stops me hunching my shoulders and really works my front abdominals).

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Redbookish - very helpful, too --- could you please remind me what the Plank exercise is? (there is a Plank, a Side Plank....?)...I get mixed up and if you could please generally explain the Plank that you mean above, that would be great....... Thanks ---

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I think you could get better information than my clumsy description by looking at reputable YouTube videos. I like Lisa Howell's videos, and "Yoga with Adriene" (she is excellent - real yoga, not commodified commercial stuff).


Here's her introduction to the Plank exercise




I find doing the full yoga posture with straight arms, rather than the typical Pilates Plank (which uses bent arms, and forearms on the mat) much better for my neck & back. She also shows the Plank from the elbows. It's an inspiring video, and gentle.


The thing I like about the 'Yoga with Adriene' series is that she talks you through a real full body mindfulness, and actually makes it seem easy! There's no punishment in her version of yoga.

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Thanks so much Redbookish for the link to this video!! I completely agree that some yoga is hard to take (if too commercial, etc.) but the gentle type is great. Thanks for explaining about this!

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