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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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I know my DD just turned 13 but she is going away for her first intensive. Are there certain dancers that will always have trouble with getting an extension above 90 degrees? My DD has notice no matter how hard she works lately, she can't seem to get her extension much above 90. She has the ability to stretch there but can't seem to keep her leg up. In the last year, she has noticed other girls in her classes are getting their legs up with no trouble and no extra work to get them there. My DD is doing all the extra strengthening exercises she has been taught but doesn't seem to be making much progress. She is concerned about spending her intensive too focused on what she can't seem to be able to do right now. Do some dancers just take longer to get the necessary strength while others just have it naturally? She takes classes 5-6 days a week and is a trainee dancer at her company school. She just wonders how some of the girls have such nice extensions that they don't have to really work for.

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Hi - responding from experience :) it takes some longer than others - she should just focus on technique and strength and let her know it WILL come, just not maybe as soon as she wants ...

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No answers here, but DD13 also has this concern. She can't yet hold her extensions much above 90 degrees to the front or the side (arabesques are easier for her, although not crazy high). She is reasonably flexible and can do splits, although is not super-bendy. She tends to get worried and frustrated about it sometimes, although her teachers don't seem terribly concerned.


I'm guessing for her it relates to strength and growth. She has grown a lot in the past 2 years and has very long legs. Interestingly, she notices sometimes at intensives that some of the girls with high extensions don't have the cleanest technique otherwise, but of course there are also some with both clean technique and high legs!


She'd love suggestions for how to improve in addition to the stretching and core exercises she already does!

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Yeah, it seems the girls in her class that really aren't growing (petite) at all seem to be the ones that have better extensions. Hoping that working harder now will translate to bigger benefits later. Some of the girls don't seem to struggle at all at extensions or flexible feet. She seems to be having the hardest time with developpe a la seconde.

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I have a dancer who is 5'11'' and is mostly leg (she wears a medium leotard...she has VERY long legs). Holding up those legs that seemed to grow daily has been the biggest struggle for her in dance (also jumping, getting those long legs off the ground). I will say, it's not entirely a height problem, though. Some kids are just naturally stronger. We have taller girls who have always been able to hold their legs up, but they seem to be a minority. I think it's like anything else. Some kids are just naturally limber, and others have to work at it. Some kids are naturally strong in some areas, others have to work to get there. Trying to gain the strength as she has grown has been a struggle. She'd make progress, grow, and lose it again. It's been very frustrating. But now that she's finally stopped growing, she's been working very hard on abs, back and leg muscles to correct this issue. She's starting to see great progress. She's been going to some intensive barre exercise classes that really focus on these areas to make the progress, and she really loves them. She tried to get there on her own, but I think it's just hard to work yourself that hard without a class or teacher to push you, and also the class has her varying the areas she worked, where before I think she was just trying to do a bunch of crunches.


For some just working in class will be enough, but for my leggy daughter, it was just going to take forever, and adding the exercise classes has helped SO much. Her ballet teachers had been saying for years, more core strength, more core strength and now they are saying, keep it up, you're getting there!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've noticed that some extension limitations will resolve in certain directions, but not others. Pelvic anatomy seems to play as important a role as strength and flexibility. My DD (17), for example, has a much higher extension to the side than to the front.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My daughter's is to the front more. She is just having a hard time adjusting to the fact that some dancers don't have to work as hard at their extentions. She is only 13 right now and wonders if hard work is enough to make up the difference. And I don't have an answer to that. She loves ballet and at times feels like she is falling behind her peers. She takes extra classes and works with a pilates/kineseologist several times a month. She is at her first away intensive right now, we'll see how that goes.

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