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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Encouraged pelvis tuck--eek?


morninglorie

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I wasn’t quite sure where to post this topic, so apologies if this needs to be moved!

Some quick background: I had ankle surgery for a posterior impingement last year and am still working on my recovery. I don’t quite have my range of motion back, and my physical therapist noticed that my alignment over my foot on the surgical side is a little weird* (I also had a lateral ligament reconstruction), so she suggested I start taking some classes with an artistic director in town with whom she’s worked closely regarding rehab for dancers.

However…this AD has a weird quirk regarding the pelvis.

I’ve taken a few classes with her thus far, and she has really encouraged me to use my “seat” to stay out of my hyperextension, which is good since it’s something I need to work on. However, she wants me to use the seat muscles in a way that result in the pelvis being slightly tucked under. It’s not super extreme (e.g. I’m not hunched over in the shoulders or stomach), but its also not neutral (if we’re being super technical, the symphysis IS slightly forward of the iliac crests, which is a posterior tilt).

At first I thought maybe I was misunderstanding her instructions, but she definitely likes the pelvis to be under--the other dancers in class exhibit this in varying degrees, so its not just me.

I’m not sure what to do…on one hand her guidance regarding my hyperextension has been helpful, but on the other I don’t want to get into some pelvic weirdness (especially since I’m still dealing with ankle weirdness!) I talked to the PT about it and asked if she thought it would put me at risk for injury and she said no, but I have some doubts…everything I’ve learned in the past and have read say to have a neutral pelvis.

I’ve thought about talking to her about it (from a “new to teaching/wanting to learn” stand point), but I don’t know her very well, and don’t want it to seem like I’m being obstinate and questioning her.

Thoughts?

*For anyone wondering, I can’t quite get fully over my foot in releves right now and seem to be off-center, which is twisting my lower leg. The PT wants me to really focus on rising up between my big and second toes.

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It sounds to me like she is indeed encouraging a 'tuck under', instead of just wanting you to engage the buttocks muscles and lift the upper body up out of the hips. With hyperextension it is very important to not allow the weight of the body to push back into the heels, and tucking would do just that. Big difference between engaging the buttocks muscles and tucking under. So, I'm afraid, if you are understanding her correctly, she is wrong. One class with someone like that would be the last one I would take. :o

(I'm moving this to Adult Ballet Students.)

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Thanks, Victoria (and thank you for relocating the topic)!

I keep waffling on what I want to do--I went in knowing that she had this quirk (other teachers had mentioned it), so I started wondering if I was noticing it because I was already bias, in a way. And maybe it feels a little tucked under to me because I'm so used to falling into my hyperextension (which tends to tilt me the other way). I might have a couple of other teachers check out my positioning using her "seat" method and see if I actually am tucked under or not. I had the PT check and she actually didn't think I was.  I wish I could take some pictures...maybe I'll recruit someone :)

It's frustrating, as other parts of the class have been very helpful.

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I went to class with a Russian teacher last year who physically showed me how to pull my seat down, lengthening the lower spine. It was a new concept to me, even after so many years of dancing. If done incorrectly, it could lead to a tuck under, but she actually restrained my pelvis to keep it from doing so. It has really made a positive difference in my stability and has reduced my lower back pain. 

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Interesting, AncientDancer!  I've been pouring through all my ballet technique books, and do remember reading something along those same lines (pulling down the seat and lengthening up). I really like that visual, and wish I had a better idea if it was something I was actually doing or not. 

I'll have to quiz some of my other teachers about my positioning this week, and may also need to break down and actually ask this AD for specifics. Maybe I'll need to find rehab somewhere else. I really don't want to cause myself other problems--this 2-3 year ankle nonsense has been quite enough!

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On 10/13/2017 at 11:28 AM, morninglorie said:

And maybe it feels a little tucked under to me because I'm so used to falling into my hyperextension .... I had the PT check and she actually didn't think I was. 

To me, this speaks a lot. 

Whenever I adjust posture on dancers, I remind them that they will feel like they are falling over (in whatever direction I am moving them from their natural stance).  I didn't discover fully straight legs and a neutral pelvis until my mid-twenties and it was such a light bulb when I finally got it.  That said, I no longer take class, and I know my legs & pelvis are not where they should be when I teach.... so when I actually engage properly, I feel like I am tucking, but then I check in the mirror and realize that what I feel isn't always what it "should be"....  

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What I actually feel is a huge stretch in my lower back, not a tuck. And it is such a relief, although I was sore in that area for a few days. Now I don't feel the stretch as much because the muscles are used to it, but I still consciously think of that lengthening wherever possible - especially when I'm about to fall over in a balance. :0)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/14/2017 at 12:52 PM, AncientDancer said:

I went to class with a Russian teacher last year who physically showed me how to pull my seat down, lengthening the lower spine. It was a new concept to me, even after so many years of dancing. If done incorrectly, it could lead to a tuck under, but she actually restrained my pelvis to keep it from doing so. It has really made a positive difference in my stability and has reduced my lower back pain. 

May I ask how she showed you how to do this? I have anterior pelvic tilt, and I work on exercises to correct it, but it's still there. At barre I can look in the mirror and correct it to some extent, but in center I'm almost certainly reverting back to the anterior tilt. If there exercises she showed you, or what to "feel" to correct it, that would be helpful.

Edited by Andy32
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There were no additional exercises. What she did was wrap one arm around the front of my pelvis, using the other to physically push down my bottom area, causing me to feel a luxurious stretch in the lower back. The arm in the front restrained tucking.

I have practiced laying on the floor, though - working on keeping the lower back in contact with the floor while keeping my hips also in contact. 

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Thank you all for the feedback :wub:  I have an update!

I spoke with a couple of my other teachers at different schools (including the one I received the bulk of my training from back in the day) and had them look at a few things. When I feel like I'm tucking, but engaging my turnout muscles, I'm not actually tucking--my alignment is good, so that was just me not being used to proper positioning :blushing:.  

I also actually broke down and spoke with the AD/teacher in question and asked for some clarification (I mentioned that I felt tucked under). She did say that, no, she did not want a tuck, but wanted the pelvis "under."  That being said, I think some of the students misinterpret this and end up tucking (though the more advanced/older dancers have better control of this). :shrug:

There are, however, a couple other quirks this teacher has that my other teachers don't necessarily agree with, though overall most of the feedback she has given me HAS been accurate (e.g. I have a problem with letting go of my core and ribcage that she has been watchful of, but some of her positioning of the upper body is a little more forward than the other teachers like). The overall consensus was that I'm okay to continue, but be smart :D   

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