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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Strength or Balance Problem?


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So, I just turned 40 and found some extra motivation to get better at ballet. Due to job, family, kids, and playing in two bands I don't have time for classes every week, but I try to get to a class or go through barre and center videos at home when I get the chance. I want to work on my weaknesses, which are balancing demi-pointe in coupe or releve. I can barely hold that for a few seconds, and I know my balance is poor. It also feels like my supporting calf is pushed to the limit when we do that at the barre, even though I work on them all the time at the gym, doing 10-12 single leg calf raises at a time or calf raises with a barbell on my back. I'm 5-11, ____ lbs and in pretty good shape. I can run 4-5 miles at a time with hills fairly easily. The only thing I believe I haven't done much of is holding the demi-pointe position for a long time - maybe going up and down is different on the muscles than holding the position? I'd like to know if I have a strength or balance problem-should this be a fairly easy position to hold for someone of average or slightly above average strength? Would it be easier if my balance was good? Once in a while I can hold the position for 4-5 seconds and it feels like a miracle, but I can't repeat it. If I could get this down, and do pirouettes better classes would be so much more enjoyable. I'd love to do intermediate level without dreading certain center combinations...



Edited by dancemaven
Removed weight per BT4D Rules and Policies.
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I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I am putting on my "teacher hat here". So it is nearly impossible to answer this question without seeing You. The one thing that I can say is that an occasional class or occasional exercises done at home are just simply not going to be enough to show any real significant progress. Studying ballet requires years of regular training under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. It's not to say that an occasional class can't be fun or good exercise. But if you want to show real improvement (i.e. Learning to turn and to balance) you're going to have to train regularly ( in my opinion that means multiple classes per week if possible)

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Working at home or in other sports helps a lot, especially in not only ballet categories like foot strength or balance - you need balance in other disciplines, too.


I had a similar problem, but only in the left foot and I exacly know where it came from. I bruised my left big toe during a modern improvisation, couldn't use this foot for 2 months fully - and it took 9 months to train the lost strength back. At the beginning it was as you described, 2-3 seconds in releve and then I broke down.


What helped? Foot excercises while tooth brushing, at the coffee machine, at ..., ballet class and time. It's still isn't as strong as the right one now, but nearly.


Of cause ballet class is important, but you don't get everything for ballet from ballet class. That's why even the professional dancers take pilates, or the men go to the gymn for weight training.


By the way, running helps, but be sure to perform the running ABC including sprints - that helps with foot strength, too, and with better running technique.

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  • 3 months later...

Relevers in the shallow end of the pool. in 6th position, (1st turned in) put a tennis ball under your inside ankle bone and do lots of relevers. You can turn out slightly. gets rid of sickling.


Do you fall back or forward in your turns?

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Do you fall back or forward in your turns?


Pardon me for butting in here. I fall backwards during turns which is why I can't get more than a clean single, releves can correct this?????

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's been four months since my original post - I tend to fall backwards during my poorly executed en de hors pirouettes. I did some more research and classes in the meantime, and I was not getting up over the foot before starting the turn. Things have gotten much better, and I can almost do single pirouettes cleanly over and over. Continued strength training, holding releve-passe (I'm up to 7-8 seconds now), and doing quarter to half to three-quarters turns to make sure I'm getting "up and over" the foot before trying to turn have all helped. A male teacher I had last week also told me to open the leading arm more to get momentum for turning. I had keeping my leading arm rounded and only pulling in the trailing arm. Separately, I've also been doing exercises to correct an anterior pelvic tilt that I have. Years of being good at situps gave me some false confidence in having a strong core - I had strong hip flexors and some strong core muscles, but not all the right ones you would need for ballet. Doing lots of various plank exercises have helped as well.

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