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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help! I need tips as a hypermobile dancer?


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Hello everyone! I need tips because of my joint hypermobility syndrome.

I was diagnosed a year ago with JHS after experiencing repetitive dislocations on my left ankle and right shoulder. I never addressed these concerns until then although as a child I did not have any issues despite being able to bend my fingers and toes, twisting my wrists in various ways etc. I was told that my lower back was the most hypermobile because I can bend it beyond 100 degrees.

I then decided to start taking ballet at the age of 22 from January 2017. Since then, I have become stronger and no longer experience dislocations.

However, I am starting to hear clicking in my feet and my right shoulder and I have no idea why? It is not painful just sounds very strange. Also, my teacher mentioned to me about demi-pointes and I am not exactly sure what they are or what their purpose is? Are they even beneficial for hypermobile dancers?

I do want to go en pointe one day but I am in no rush as I strictly follow my ballet teacher's rules and will wait till she says I am ready. 


What tips do you have for me? 


I look forward to your responses.

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My pilates teacher, who is also a fellow adult ballet student, has spoken about the importance of pilates and/or similar strengthening exercises for people with hypermobility.  If you can find someone who is very knowledgable about it, perhaps a local pilates teacher or personal trainer can help evaluate where you need to build strength and how to do it safely.  Your feet in particular are body parts not generally addressed by such programs, so a local expert is your best bet.

I would tell you that some cracks and pops are fairly normal as you stretch body parts and use them in ways you're not used to.  How much of a red flag it is for you, I don't know.  I've cracked nearly every joint in my body for decades and it wasn't until the last couple of  years (I'm 53) I discovered that I technically qualify for a hypermobility diagnosis (if you could do certain things *ever* it counts, even if you're too stiff to do it now).  My 12 year old DD has a few of those elements too so I'm keeping an eye out.  In both our cases it is mild (I've had no dislocations (except chiropractic) and she's had 3 in her elbow (ER visits) when much younger) and, unfortunately, not the type of hypermobiity that is valued in the ballet community (sure I can't raise my leg 180° but watch me put my thumb against my inside arm!).

Good luck!

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If you're worried about hypermobility, then maybe a series of consultations with a physiotherapist who specialises in dance/gymnastics might help?

Other than that, I'd second the recommendation for some good Pilates training. My studio also runs a weekly session in "Progressing Ballet Technique"  - my teacher has done the training (she also has a Masters in Dance Science from one of the best dance colleges in the country). It's a technique that works on developing core strength together with ballet alignment, so it's really targeted for dancers (which Pilates isn't). You could google around to see if anyone in your area teaches it (shortened to PBT).

You could also see if you can find a good floor barre class. I do one at Danceworks studio, whenever I'm working in London.

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