Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Ballet Barre - Setting Realistic Goals To Improve Your Ballet Exercises

Sometimes working smarter means doing less. For daily routines, realistic goals may be achieved by picking one aspect of your ballet barre exercises.

What is the easiest way to do this?

Optimum results for muscle memory may come from a super slow motion repetition, such as press ups, maintaining your postural plumb line.

The Perfect Pointe Book shows such self-testing methods for improving your pointe shoe exercises.

For example, if you find the tiniest deviation from your plumb line in a slow motion press up, you can identify a joint or muscle that needs to be relaxed and stretched, or strengthened.

If your weight moves a tiny bit forward at the end of your rise, pushing your hip joints forward, that means your core muscles are not holding at that stage of the movement. Or it could mean that your rise was on a tiny slant.

And that movement forward may be the result of a tiny movement backward at the bottom of your demi plie. So which came first?

 First Position

When your are standing in first position, you require tension in your rotator muscles, your thighs, and your core muscles.

Some students pull down at the front of their diaphragm to add to the stability of their core muscles. This will lead to:

  • Shallow breathing 
  • The shoulders collapsing forward slightly
  • Rigidity at the back of the neck.

If you do basic training like this for a couple of years, you will have difficulty spotting when you get to chaine turns, just to name one out of many negative results.

Back To First Position - Core Muscles

So, back to first position, your core abdominal muscles can be held tightly, yet the chest can still move up and down easily for breathing, for allowing the chin to be free and for the muscles at the back of the neck to be free.

This way you will have graceful head positions, free arm movements, easy spotting on pirouettes and plenty of oxygen going to your muscles.

You relax your thighs and knees and ease into a demi plie, until you feel the weight press into your heels, and then you push upward, before your heels lose their pressure into the floor, and before your weight moves backward.

If your muscles are working well, you will go straight up from here and end in a perfect rise. No tension in the shoulders, neck, arms or fingers.

And you will be on balance, breathing easily, able to do a simple port de bras, able to turn or incline your head, and able to control the movement down with your foot muscles, until the heels touch the floor.

Now you are back where you started.

No matter how your proportions, your height, your weight, your flexibility, your looks, approximate the ideal ballet body, you CAN do basic movements perfectly, if you study all of them with  The Perfect Pointe Book.

Here is a video where Lisa Howell, author of The Perfect Pointe Book, shows on of the preparatory pointe exercises.
Enjoy it!

Your goals are truly realistic if you use this fabulous dancer's manual. 

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