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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Beautiful Arabesques and Attitude Derrière


Guest joodiff

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Victoria—specific back problems can be really tough to diagnose, even for very good orthopedists. I wish you luck. I know it must be frustrating.

 

When you speak of your back stiffening, you have to distinguish between the back muscles being tight (e.g, not being able to do a modern dance contraction as well as you used to) and the joints in your spine having some problem. My sense is that you are pretty flexible in general, and flexibility in various areas of the body is correlated, so I am guessing that your problem isn’t muscle related. It can get really complicated. A disc might be irritating a muscle or nerve. Or a little growth on the bone itself might be irritating a muscle or nerve. A little arthritis in the wrong place. Inflammation. There are tons of possibilities.

 

If I were you I’d seek a diagnosis. I’d also try anything that makes sense to you and if it works, keep with it. If it doesn’t, try something else. Backs are still pretty much a mystery even to the pros I think.

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Nadezhda, the psoas is a muscle that runs from the spine to the thigh, through the pelvis, and around the hip joint. :D

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Guest IUdancer

The other day in class, my teacher had us add this at the end of our stretch at the barre (saying that it's great for arabesque and attitude derriere):

 

stand facing away from the barre, and bring your leg up onto the barre in back of you in an attitude position (with your lower leg resting on the barre). While doing this, you are holding onto the barre in back of you with both hands. Don't forget to keep your hips square and level and your back up, and your standing leg turned out! Hope this helps. :-) It did free up the front of my hip and thigh, but I could definitely feel it in my back.

 

Lauren

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Guest Nadezhda

Lauren, I understand what you ar saying. The problem is, thought, that I can't bring my leg all the way up to barre without leting go the sqareness of my hips. I have to txist the body or let my ribcage go out of the line, so that isn't a thing to do. Are there some other basic exercises (stretches) that would allow my legs to travel up further. I have an exceptionally good back flexibility, but I think the problem with me is that I can't keep my working leg turned out when it's lifted in the air.

 

Also, I'm not sure I understand the concept of opening my working leg to the extent where my hips would still be relatively square. It's hard to describe, but the hips in my arabsques just don't look right. The teachers have given me corrections on that (mainly it was said that I should keep my leg lower and that with time I will be able to maintain line and lift it higher, but I don't think that's happening). :confused: Just work and wait? :)

 

Thanks for your replies in advance.

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Nadezhda, it is really not possible to get the leg up in the back to a respectable height, in a fully rotated postion, without opening the hip. If you are trying to keep the hips square, it won't happen. The shoulders stay square, and the rib cage, but if you want 90º turned out, then you will have to open the hip. As to the stretch that Lauren is describing for attitude, it's okay if the barre is not too high, but that one is very difficult if you have a high barre and not a lot of natural flexibility.

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Guest Nadezhda

OK, Ms. Leight I understand what you're saying. :)

 

Another thing: if I don't have my back leg completly behind my body, but a little more to the side (as if you did a back tendu and kept fingers in the same line in which they were in the first position) I can maintain a very nice turn out and get the leg to up to 90°. However, I know that I should keep my working leg all the way back. Why does that happen? If I continued doing arabesques in such a position, and when my turn out gets better move the leg more and more towards the nice back tendu, would that be all right?

 

 

Also, what do you think of doing grand battements to the back that go up to more than 90°? I don't find it sensible, but I'd like a second opinion.

 

Thanks again. :)

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Sorry, Nadezhda, even slightly out to the side is not a good idea, as then it is really not a true arabesque. If you do it that way it will be harder to change it later. You need to start with the tendu to the back, find the right place AND the best rotation that you can, and lift it from there keeping it in line. Arabesque is about LINE, and when the leg is out to the side it destroys the line of the body.

 

There is nothing wrong with grand battement derrière above 90º, as long as it is correctly placed and rotated ;) If you have to displace the body, like drop the lower back, to do it, then no, not good.

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Guest IUdancer

Nadezhda,

 

Maybe to work on keeping your leg turned out in arabesque you could do the following:

 

1 - tendu back

2 - lift to 45 degrees or lower (really feel like it's going out, not up)

3 - turn working leg in (control the movement carefully)

4 - turn it back out, really feeling it in your hip

5 - lower leg back to tendu derriere

6 - close to first position

7&8 - demi plie

 

In fact, this would be great to do en croix, just to make sure you are turning out that working leg to the front and side, as well! I know I love this exercise because I can really feel the turnout happening in my hip. :-) I hope this is useful!

 

Lauren

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