How To Get Abs Exercises Right For Ballet
I remember years ago explaining to my eight year olds how not to suck their belly button in, but to pull it upwards.
I didn't try to explain the concentric (shortening) , eccentric (lengthening) and isometric (sustaining the muscle position) contractions to them.
For dancers, here is a video demonstrating the lengthening contraction, even though at first glance at the physio ball portion,it may seem this trainer is doing crunches.
To emphasize this lengthening of the abdominal muscles to the younger girls and boys, I would also have them sit on the floor with a straight back.
Their legs could be comfortable, as I wanted them to feel the isolated abs, with their pelvis in neutral. I also wanted them to feel the pelvis unchanging, in other words, feel their Sit bones on the floor while they pulled their tummy muscles UP.
Deborah Vogel, author of The Body Series newsletter, explains this well to a ballet teacher HERE.
With the children sitting on the floor both I and my assistant could see immediately which of them were doing a crunch instead of a pull-up movement.
The kids could also easily feel that their bones were moving on the floor, and could sense how to pull up without their bones moving.
That made it easier for them to feel their pelvis staying neutral when they stood up, and pulled up.
We were in a studio with only one mirror, in the back corner, which I think is fine for younger children.
This correct use of the abs also helps children to use their turnout muscles without gripping and pulling their buttocks down and in.
When they become advanced, they will then be able to alter their hip placement with deliberation when doing high leg extensions, rather than just losing it, and crunching their abs shorter.
Here is an article on grand battement, and you'll see while reading that, how the elongated abs will stabilize you in many ballet movements.
Here's a wonderful dance video for seeing great abs control!
If you have to go to youtube to see this, here's the link:
Enjoy your dance classes!