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Ballet Talk for Dancers

leg strengthening for jumps


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I have a lot of trouble with assemble, and any jump that requires pushing off from one leg--I just don't have the strength. Are there any exercises I could work on outside of class to build strength in my legs?

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I sometimes where compression sleeves under my tights. They help strengthen and keep good blood flow.

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I find lifting weights helpful.  Just be sure you're doing so in a balanced manner.  It's easier, for example, to focus on your quads and ignore your gluts and hamstrings.  I prefer machines to free weights, but that's personal preference.  There are pros and cons to both.  There are tons of guides all over the internet and in many books on how to get started.  There's even a blog that focuses on exercise for ballet dancers, though I find it so skewed for young advanced adults that I haven't found much of direct use.  My favorite book is Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam Nelson, which is fabulous for anyone older and/or disabled but gives the basics so clearly that I think any beginner, of any gender, to weights would benefit.

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The barre exercises tendu and battement glissé or battement jeté are your friends here. That's where you learn the push off for the assemblé. Particularly if your teacher is really packing technical training into the barre and you do a barre combination of any of those steps which also uses a plié - such as closing a tendu on a demi plié. Those exercises are how you build the articulation and strength for jumping. Also, training in the centre doing very slow assemblés or jetés - otherwise known as torture - but very good for doing jetés or assemblés at normal speed. Break down the elements of the exercise:

as you demi plie, you release the back leg in a tendu to second

push off from the supporting leg

bring the ankles together


It is really difficult, & hurts a lot, but you get the feeling of the push of the leg going to second, which helps when you then do it up to speed. But it isn't pretty to look at when you do the break down (or maybe that's just me :blushing: ).

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