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Ballet Talk for Dancers
GinaP

Balance on Demi Pointe Tips

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GinaP

Just joined an Adult Open Division Absolute Beginners class at 58 (!!!) and would appreciate tips on balancing on demi pointe. My balance (full footed) in yoga is really good, but that doesn’t translate to DP! I totter like mad and it’s so disturbing. 

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RaisingBallerina

Well to improve demi pointe you're in the right place - ballet class!  The barre exercises are all designed to develop the strength and flexibility necessary.  I'm not a teacher, just an adult ballet student "of a certain age" who has had to return to the studio more than once after foot/ankle injuries (not ballet related) and re-start from scratch.  In my experience there is ankle strength (and flexibility), core strength, posture, and proprioception all involved and a weakness can be in any or all of those places.  At home you can try 10-20 reps of very slowly rising from first position flat to demi pointe on two feet facing your kitchen counter (like a barre), holding at the top, and really focus on the muscles that need to engage to keep from teetering.  It is a whole chain ankle, inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes, lower abs, mid-back, shoulders, neck, head. When your posture is correct and everything is working, your heels coming up should look like rising in an elevator - a spectator watching your would see no change but the movement upward, but actually a whole bunch of things are working.  If you start wobbling before you get to a full demi pointe, then just stick with a range that you can do well, even if just an inch off the floor, and build from there.  If it feels really strong then try - while holding on to the barre or counter - closing your eyes and maintaining the balance as long as possible.  Once you get more comfortable with these reps in first position, you can try it from fifth (or third).  The next step is single leg - holding on to a door jamb at home or facing the barre, like alternating 5 on each side.  You can progress to doing those on a thick pillow to challenge stability.  And remember to keep breathing!

It's worth mentioning that even advanced dancers are always "working" for their balances!  They are perpetually teetering and making microscopic corrections, it is their extreme strength and training that make those corrections imperceptible to the spectator so it looks effortless.

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Chasse Away

Hey Gina, 

As many things in Ballet, balance is a result of many muscles working together and many details of technique working together! There is no “quick fix”, and there is no easy answer for how to achieve something because there are many things (abs, center of weight, posture, arms, legs, feet, eyeline, etc) that need to be correct that contribute to balance. Raising Ballerina is right, keep going to class and you will see improvement. Rises and other supplemental exercise will help as well. Best of luck!

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GinaP

Thanks for the suggestion, Raises and Chasse! And for the reminder to be patient. I’ve been trying to make 2 classes a week for the last two months, usually averaging at 1.5, but also trying to practice at home and at work (where I have a sit/stand desk). Thinking about alignment (concentrating demipointe on my first two toes, being mindful of my core and stretching up, etc) — it’s a lot for a beginner! I’ve shied away from center work a bit because of my balance issue, but at the same time pushing myself to stay in it because I think that’s best in the long haul! Thanks again for the encouragement....

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RaisingBallerina

GinaP if you enjoy anything about the classes, the music, the port de bras, the community, I encourage you to keep it up!  Kudos to you for trying something new!  Ballet is always "a lot" but that's what makes it so rewarding.  We are all working at an individual pace, and despite what the outside world thinks I have found the adult ballet community to be a supportive, forgiving, inspiring place to do the work.  I hope you find that, too!

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Miss Persistent

Also try practicing rises in a parallel position.  You can even pop a tennis ball in between your ankle bones to help you keep your alignment.  Rises in parallel activate a different part of the calf muscles which is also important.  For balance, practice some proprioception exercises.  Even just simple things like standing on two feet in parallel and closing your eyes - you'll help your body develop its internal sense of balance in space.  If you can manage two feet, try one foot.  Patience is a virtue :) Just keep chipping away at it and you will improve.

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GinaP

Thank you for that! Will do!

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