Sunday, June 24, 2007

7 Highly Effective Habits In Ballet Training

There are 7 highly effective habits in ballet training that affect:

  • the key area of dancing for young ballerinas, pointe work, and; 

  • a key area for men in ballet, jumping. 

In early training, regardless of age, these will contribute to excellence in both these areas. This analysis can apply to other areas of dance in the same way also, I'm choosing this one for the sake of discussion.

Understand your own physical attributes and shortcomings. 

For example, every dancer would like to have long and stretchy Achilles tendons, and flexible ankles.

These 2 advantages provide the biggest range of movement between the bottom of a demi-plie and the take-off point of a releve or jump.

One of the dancers in my class at the National Ballet School of Canada had a very shallow demi-plie. Yet, she had very flexible ankles and a high arch, and this gave her the range of movement and thrust to jump very high.

Get the best technical education. 

Regardless of physical advantages, progress can be made by understanding the ideal ballet movements and by learning correct ballet stretches.

Also, get the correct preparation for dancing in pointe shoes.

There is no restriction on your access to information.

Find a well-credentialed teacher who is both kind and demanding in class. 

This is a variable, and inexperienced teachers do not realize how often they are going to repeat the same old correction over the years of training, to the same students.... in a million different imaginative ways.

Learn safe cross-training to help you compensate for your physical shortcomings. 

If you need to get more flexible, there is Pilates, massage, and Yoga. If you are flexible but weak in some areas, Pilates, and weight training will help.

Coordinate your knowledge of your physiology.


You might be compensating detrimentally to get the deepest demi-plie and best take-off that you can, and instead compensate more with cross-training and less with bad habits. It's only a life-long process, even for the most gifted.

Don't lose sight of your uniqueness, talents, intelligence, and determination. 

There will always be an invitation to doubt yourself, envy others' real or imagined superiority, and waste time thinking negative thoughts.

Get proper rest and good nutrition

Body and brain fatigue, and nutritional deficiencies are directly related to mood. Please be curious and get the information you need.

These 7 highly effective habits are just the tip of the icebergs, but they are a great guide to go with until you develop your own uniqueness in training priorities.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Stretching Exercises - Muscle Tension Tips

One thing that I have now - and love - is my physio ball, also known as a gym ball or exercise ball. Below are some tips on doing stretching exercises on the ball. (You can click right now to get it).

I use the ball as my computer chair. I use no other.

Bouncing gently, or just fidgeting on the ball while I'm thinking or waiting for pages to load, is healthy, and it is relaxing. Sore muscles get a little movement. Sitting on a chair, sore muscles get positioned poorly and become more spasmed and hurt.

Also, the ball gives even when you breathe. There is literally no impact, no pressure moving up the spine when you sit on the ball.

Sitting in second position, fourth position, and lunge positions, you just roll in different directions and get stretched, while you are reading or writing.

Since we dancers tend to mindlessly stretch something, taking advantage of every move we make, the ball is a great addition to our collection of things that aid our recovery after classes. If you get one, experiment with it and you'll see what I mean.

If your legs just are relentlessly aching, lie on the floor and put your calves up on the ball. You can roll slowly from side to side, stretching the sides of the hips and lower back, or roll all the way to the side, draping the top leg over the ball so you don't overdo the stretch.

Hanging over the ball like a rag doll, knees on the floor, and rolling up and down is a wonderful low back stretch. It opens up the lower, mid and upper back, relaxing the shoulders as well. Just let the head hang. Aahhh.....and you can reverse the position, bending back over the ball, and roll around a little.

I use an exercise mat so my feet don't lose grip. Also you can position the ball against something behind you so you won't lose control and get dumped overboard.

So it's a great tool for stretching exercises and relaxation techniques. The bouncing is excellent for your lymph system.

Effective Stretching The Utimate Guide's, muscle tension tips, has been put on a DVD by a dance expert. It gives a top to toe routine for getting the most out of your stretching exercises.