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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Parents have some concern about my super flexible daughter


Maggie_mom

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Good afternoon,

 

My daughter, who is 9.5 dances several times a week but ballet is her first love and passion

 

3 hours ballet (1.5 hours Grade 2, RAD, 1.5 hours Grade 3 RAD)

45 mins lyrical

45 mins jazz

1 hour acro

 

I've had a few parents come up to me and express concern that my daughter is too flexible and one of her ballet teachers have her use a chair for her splits and they don't' think it's correct or think I should be extra careful. She has mentioned to me that regular splits aren't challenging enough and that's why she is permitted to use a chair. Is there a problem with being too flexible? Can she hurt herself in the long run with being so bendy

 

Not sure what to do, do I trust the teachers and assume they know what they are doing? (teachers are RAD certified, although my dd's one ballet instructor is young). Thanks.

 

Margaret

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  • Administrators

Margaret, we do not believe in over splits, which is what the chairs will allow. We think it is dangerous and definitely unnecessary. Dancers who have a great deal of natural flexibility need to spend more time on developing strength, not more stretch.

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I have a very stretchy kid too, and we only had one substitute teacher who was into oversplits. I know some much, much older dancers may do them maybe with a foam roller, but not extreme with a chair. If my daughter would do crazy stretchy stuff, the regular teachers didn't like it. An amazing pilates teacher at our school helped me see the light about oversplits, especially as we lost one of our sr dancers to a terrible hip injury which due to this kid really pushing herself when her body was made to do that. If I was a friend and saw your child doing those, I would say something and ask you to get some more info. For me, I am glad my kid focused on strength and stopped the crazy splits.

 

One teacher told me this: the schools in Russia take kids with a very particular body type, so it might work out with the over stretching for those very particular kids but that being hyper bendy is not necessary for being a dancer, but strength is. She proceeded to name some beloved dancers who are not hyper bendy.

 

I know it's hard because Youtube, and certain movies make one think oversplits are expected and normal!

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My daughter had issues with being extremely flexible and when she went on pointe, she did not have the strength to support it. I think she was around 11 or so. She went off pointe for a year and worked hard with a physical therapist and pilates/dancer to develop core strength.

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  • 1 month later...

Our DD is naturally flexible too. When she started ballet at age 11, she was very concerned with being able to do all these crazy looking stretches she was seeing on YouTube (including the "splits between two chairs" thing). The directors at her school advised her to stop. They told her she needed to focus more on controlling her flexibility. They recommended pilates and floor barre, and it's made a huge difference. She hasn't lost any of her flexibility, and she's able to use it more deliberately when she's dancing.

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I think the moderators have given you some good advice. However, I do not understand why parents are commenting on your daughter and/or her training. They should let the teachers teach and the parents parent.

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In this case, pointetheway, the parents at the studio were pointing out a potentially harmful activity a teacher is endorsing. Without knowing there is a concern about that particular method, how is a parent new to ballet suppose to know when to go in search of answers? The parents weren't being obnoxious or snippy or 'jealous'. They were suggesting to the new parent that oversplits between two chairs may not be the best idea (which it isn't) and she might want to check it out more (which she did).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you dancemaven - they were letting me know about the harmful activity and weren't being critical, they were just concerned that she was being allowed to do these splits in class.

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Hypermobility is both a blessing and a curse. My DD has it to a high degree, and she has had to do a lot of strengthening work to be able to control it over the years. Around age 11 she was evaluated by an orthopedist and scored 8 out of 9 on the Beighton scale for hypermobility.

 

We were told by that doctor, and over and over by other doctors and PTs since then, that people with hypermobility need to stabilize the joints, not stretch, in order to prevent injury and/or instability down the road. Strengthening has not decreased her crazy range of motion, but I think it definitely has helped her avoid sprains and strains. She has to be particularly careful about hyperextending her knees and not pronating her feet, and not dancing when fatigued.

 

There are lots of great articles online if you Google "hypermobility in dancers," and it might be worth reading up on the specifics, well before your DD begins pointe work. She may outgrow the stretchiness a bit over the years, but it certainly couldn't hurt to have her start protecting her joints now! Had we investigated earlier, my DD could probably have been spared a sprain or two. Good luck with your bendy one :).

 

(My DD is now older than 13, so moderators please delete this post if it's not appropriate.)

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