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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Newcomer and simple questions

Guest Jeujeucda

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Guest Jeujeucda

Hi everyone!


I'm so glad to have found this forum! I'm not the only adult serious-wannabe around! I started ballet at first this April just to help with my figure skating (nowhere and never will be near the Olympics though). But now I'm also hooked on it! I only wish my parents had encouraged me when I was 4 to stay with it instead of quitting (they say I complained my feet hurt.) I'm in my mid-20s now.


Anyway, a few questions:


1. I'm confused as to which is better, canvas or leather slippers?


2. Aside from stopping classes (which I'm not about to), how can I get rid of shin splint? It started a few weeks ago but comes and goes. I take ibuprofen during skating cuz that's when I can really feel it (hard boot) but know it's from ballet.


3. Everywhere I can only find Adult Beginner/Intermediate once/week classes. I don't want to be stuck in these forever but actually progress to pointe one day (not 10 years from now). How can this be done? What have you guys done?


4. I am very flexible naturally (i.e. splits, fold over, leg over head, etc, without effort) but not strong (i.e. never could do proper butterfly in competitive swimming) How can I increase strength for ballet?


5. Do you lose or put on weight with ballet? I've lost about 3 lbs since adding ballet (four classes/week). I'm at 117 lbs at 5'5 1/2". I'm slender to the world, but sure look curvy compared to dancers. What are the norms for ballet, especially if you want to go on pointe one day?




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Hi and welcome Jeujeucda


We're also glad you found this forum and hope you stay and find out how really useful and fun it is for the adult ballet dancer. There are also other forums such as Discovering BAllet which is rather like Ballet 101, so you might want to haev a peek around there as well :)


So lets try and answer some of your questions....


1. Arhhh, well you'd get arguements for both types. If you are just starting out,leather full soles are probably the most benficial for you as they make you work your feet harder and are slightly more supportive than the canvas split soles. Once you get going, you might wnat to move on up to leather split soles, then probably onto canvas. But with the full sole shoes your feet will definatley progress faster.


2. HAve you been to the doctors about these 'shin splints"? HAve you been diagnosed with them? IF you haven't been to your doctors, then go asap. If you have, then speak to your ballet teacher and let him/her know about it. Also, Mjr Johnson and Ms Leigh might have some advice on these as I am in no way able to advise you on this.


3. Adult/beginner/Intermediate lessons are great! You should ideally if you want to progess to pointe be doing at least 4-5 one and a half hour lessons a week if not more. Even doing 4 basic classes a week is better than doing 1 hard class. Basic classes are not to be scoffed at even if you have had years of training. Going slow is sometimes a lot harder than going fast, and with basic/beginner lessons you can really sort out any potential problems before they become 'bad habits' and hance hinder you later on.


4. Yes, this I have heard is common. I have the strength but not the flexibility, so I always have to work so hard at that part. Then some others have wonderful flexibility, but no strenth. Strength building exercise come from doing various other exercises as well as ballet. Pilates for exampl, will build up your 'core' strength. Weight training will build up your overall muscle tone. Your basic gym workout is good to do , focusing on abs and legs. But when you do your ballet class, you have to really work on using the correct muscles. If you don't know which ones you should be using. You can either ask here, or ask your ballet teacher.


5.Urghhh weight, not a good thing to discuss here or anywhere on this board. As long as you feel healthy and are healthy, then you have nothing to worry about. Normally, if you start a particular exercise regimen, the tendency is to for the fat to turn to muscle, and since muscles weighs more than fat, then hey presto you do put on weight. But with ballet, you get this wonderful total toned muscle look, as long as you use the correct muscles that is.


Hope some of this helped, stick around though as there is sure to be other good advice :D



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I'd just like to add to the shinsplints question: The best treatment for these is R.I.C.E. - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Do these while waiting to go to the doctor! Resting the injured part is essential. That means no class, and no skating while you have the problem. Ice means cold packs. Fifteen minute applications as often as you experience pain. Shouldn't do more than once every hour. Compression means a shin support or an Ace bandage or sports tape crisscrossed over the front of the shin. All the way up and down. And elevation, put your feet up and watch TV. Get the injured area more on the same plane with your heart.


Now, as to weight, Jeannette is right, we usually don't discuss weight and diet issues on the board, but leave that to the physicians and the registered dietitians. But coming from a high-energy regime like skating, you're liable to notice a little loss to start with (water loss), then a gradual gain back (muscle mass). Net result: You'll probably break even.:)

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Guest MarysMom

Hi Jeujeucda !

I don't have any good advice for you, but I wanted to tell you that I am also a figure skater (coaching now...) and a beginner ballet student. We have a lot in common! I have found ballet to be very helpful for my skating and coaching! Good luck to you!

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Guest pumukau

Are you dancing on a decent floor? I only ask because you're a newcomer... there are some ballet schools that don't have sprung floors. Dancing on concrete will splinter your shins in a heartbeat.


I don't know anything about skating but I would imagine that you might have to really work on plie when you land; you can't translate that vertical force into horizontal velocity the way you can on skates. Maybe turnout too. For me it was skiing, I had to leave downhill alone for a couple years until my knees got used to turnout.


As for finding enough classes, I started in a small town that had only one school. when I needed five classes a week (at some point in their lives everyone needs five classes a week) I talked to the teacher and she let me take children's classes. It worked out surprisingly well as soon as the little girls realized that I was there to learn ballet not to judge their performance. Or go to a couple different schools. Several teachers probably isn't as good as one good one frequently, but it's better than not getting enough c lasses, and it's good experience.


Starting at any stage of your life is well worth it. Congratulations!

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Guest attitudegirl

welcome!!! I also have to take 4 classes a week with middle school and high schoolers. I find my toughest class of the week is my adult beginner class I take (I am a ballet level 4-5 student). Everything is done so slowly and meticulously that it is torture. PLus, the other adults look to me for guidance (being the experienced one) and I feel all of their eyes watching me. It is extremely benenficial to me. Good luck and I"m so glad you found ballet. I grew up dancing and always wanted to be an ice skater but we had no ice rink. The grass is always greener:D

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Guest Jeujeucda

Thanks for your replies, everyone! I hadn't expected so many so quickly. This board is great :D


I've got an appointment today to see about what I think is shin splint. Only it's no longer bothering me much. At its worst it was still a come and go thing, and now it's pretty much gone. But I'm still going to go. I'll also ask about the bandage thing that Mr. Johnson mentioned to see if I still need that.


At the moment I have four 1 1/2 hr classes a week. It's possible to add one more, but this class I'll ask about in another post.


Right now I have canvas split soles because they were the only ones available in my size when I went to the store. However, I think I'll invest in a leather pair when the stock arrives because they felt more supportive. The canvas is very comfy, but feels a bit flimsy. Or maybe my foot's narrower than my shoes?


I'm glad to hear that the weight should balance out, cuz I don't want to keep losing weight (I like my current wardrobe too much ;) )


It's good to hear from other skaters taking ballet here! I definitely have to work on landing in much bigger plies than in skates -- found that out the first class! Maybe that's how I got the shin splint. The floors I have are good, definitely for dancing on.


Now I'll ask more questions in a new post




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I just wanted to add in a quick note about shin splints. Several years ago I started having pain in my shins. I was positive that I had shin splints, but a visit to a physical therapist indicated that I had problems with my arches and that I needed to change shoes and tape my arches for a while.


The lesson is that shin pain doesn't always mean you have shin splints, it could be another problem that's manifesting itself in the shins. Only a trained professional can properly diagnose the problem.

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Hi all,


Back to the leather vs canvas debate:


I've noticed (yeah, right, like I couldn't notice!) that after dance class, my toenails are cracked and split. I'm using canvas split-soles. I don't recall having this problem when taking ballet as a teenager. I used leather shoes back then.


Does using leather ballet slippers protect the feet a bit more? Is the canvas too thin?


Does anyone else have this problem?

(My toenails *are* short, by the way!)




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Rio, I am wondering about your nails:) normally if someone said to me their nails were splitting and cracking I would put it down to a nutritional

problem. Are you getting at least the recommended daily allowance of protein and vitamin A, (and perhaps consider taking Biotin, a vitamin available at health food stores, but don't take if you are pregnant).

Repetitive and prolonged wetting and drying of

nails is also a possible common cause of splitting and ridging of the nails. I find my feet sweat so much in canvas shoes compared to when I used to wear leather..or maybe I'm imagining that?

Also, wearing nail polish a lot or careless filing can also cause these problems.



Also, cracked nails can be a sign of an underlying fungus problem and they can also be hereditary.

What exactly do they look like?..your toes?


Also during class are you putting any pressure on the tops of your toenails? WHen you tendu back there should be no weight on your toes, or when you tendu in any position come to think of it. The top edge of your big toe should be lightly resting on the floor and that is about it.

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Hi Xena,


I don't think that I have fungus under my nails. I've seen pictures of that, and the toenails tend to be *very* ridged.


I'm prone to weak nails, I've always had nails that split and crack, I've just never noticed this on my toenails.


Maybe I am putting too much pressure on my feet at class. My feet were in agony during my first class, which was strange, since I don't recall hurting my feet at ballet before.


I'm actually think that my ballet slippers may have something to do with it I've bought a new pair of ballet slippers (Grishko canvas split soles - when I compare them to my Teplovs, they make the Teplovs look pathetic), so maybe that will remedy the situation.


My feet are my Achilles Tendons really, I've always had foot problems. I don't really know how to describe my toes - longish, I suppose. My first two toes are the same length but it's my big toe that takes the knocking!


Thanks for the suggestions....



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Guest Jeujeucda



I realized I didn't post a note about how the shin splint appointment went. I went to the sports med clinic at the university campus and the PT I saw said basically the same thing as Mr. Johnson too. Ice. He said to do that for 10 days or so and if it doesn't get better, I could use Motrin to make the inflammation go down. However, he'd prefer we don't use the medication. He also said to always make sure to stretch my calves in all directions before skating and ballet, as the shin has very little muscle to work with.


Right now my shin don't seem to be bothering me much anymore, but I'll be paying attention to it. It is definitely ballet that makes it bad, but skating's where I actually feel it more because of the hard boot.


Another thing I've started doing after reading Mr. Johnson's note is putting my feet up on a makeshift stool under my desk at work so my ankless won't swell as much during the day. It seems to be working.



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