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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tips for Keeping Seat and Thighs Clenched


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I took my first ballet class late in 2019 and still have trouble remembering to keep my seat and thighs tight or clenched most of the time during class exercises.  I believe this is a male dancer specific topic, so I am posting it here.  What are some of the things that helped you with this when you started out?  Thanks in advance for sharing.  

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So I actually prefer the idea of “active “ muscles rather than “clenched” and that’s how I teach it. And this is not a topic that is, in my opinion,, specific to male dancers. This sort of problem, like keeping the stomach in (engaged abdominal muscles) takes time and daily practice/reminders. It took me three years to get my stomach under control (former adult beginner here, now teaching in multiple pre-professional programs). Keep working and be patient. The fact that you are aware is fantastic. Ballet is so complex and requires so much thought that it can take a very long time for things like this to go on “automatic pilot”. Give yourself time and space. “The study of ballet is the relentless pursuit of an unachievable perfection.”

Edited by Willimus
Wanted to add more info
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LOL  The ... relentless pursuit of unachievable perfection.   Thanks for the encouragement.  

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  • 1 month later...

Similar to Willamus’ explanation, in fitness lingo, we talk about engaging various muscles; actually we are referring to or meaning muscle chains, which you can research on the ‘net as it is a fairly useful concept I think.

Because some people teaching ballet lack a sound grounding in science concepts (physiology, kinesiology, etc.) they will resort to expressions like clenching. 

If you research about ‘placement’ in ballet and core stability (especially one-legged core stability) then UNDERSTANDING these two underlying concepts and principles can sometimes aid in learning towards intuitively practicing ‘correct technique’.  (Vaganova teaching in particulat I think integrates and incorporates such principles.)  I am of the teaching-learning school that when ADULTS appreciate WHY certain things matter their learning is more fulsome.

Verbal cueing (reminders, like dropping tail bone, zipping abs, closing the separation between inner thighs, open chest, relaxed shoulders, etc. etc. etc.) and proprioceptive self awareness, conditioned reflex... along with repetition... I think can lead eventually to correct technique (proper muscle engagements) becoming second nature and habit (habituation, where if you are doing something less than fully correct, you feel or sense or perceive that ‘something is not quite right’ about what I am doing or attempting to do.)  But also the dancer has to be ‘mindful’ and present in the moment so as to carry out the desired movements in the desired, ideal manner.

This leads to ideas of correct teaching (competent, knowledgeable teachers) so you don’t develop bad habits that will need to be broken and corrected in order to reach the next level of technique, because ‘muscle memory’ (neuro-motor patterns) are just that... patterns right or not-so-right for your facility and level of achievement technically.  Teachers who are exceptional are good at detection (recognition, awareness) and correction (analysis, remediation suited to learner’s style).






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