Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Dance and Ballet Resolutions - Get Some Tips For an Extra Advantage

Ballet dancers tend to be self-critical and my intention is to help dancers progress faster with a light-hearted and keep-it-simple approach to new resolutions for their quest to excel in ballet class. Solving technical roadblocks may result in the extra advantage of a new understanding and enthusiasm that will take the "chore" out of making New Year's goals for your ballet training. So here are a few tips.

We've all had ballet corrections that do not seem to ever go away. We may understand perfectly how ballet positions and ballet movements should be. We understand how the body should mechanically do something, yet it can be frustrating when the body we're in just does not get it right after much trying.

What is the most frequent correction you got last year? Why isn't it fixed? There is a reason, relating to one of the following.

** Posture
** Flexibility
** Alignment
** Strength and reflexes
** Turnout
** Tension

For example, if you stand sideways to a mirror, legs parallel and straight, core area held a little, do your ankles/knees/hips/shoulders/ears stack up, with natural spinal curves kept? If not, is an area not stacked because it is too tight or too lose? Can the core muscles hold without strain showing in the neck or shoulders? Posture has a lot to do with tension, flexibility, strength, and understanding. Correct posture leads to correct alignment in many ballet positions. Fix if needed! Study, search for information.

Turnout involves strength, flexibility and tension. And understanding what true turnout is. Incorrect turnout affects posture, increases tension, reduces flexibility and distorts alignment. There is a book called Tune Up Your Turnout by Deborah Vogel that is a good myth-buster, and something every dancer can use. You can figure out a lot by yourself, with the right information. The trick is that you need to get your body to do something, from an ideal concept. In fact many of Deborah Vogel's "ballet tips" publications analyse one ballet position, such as arabesque, giving a wealth of data that will help you get your arabesque to its best line.

All of the above factors affect the rest, but which one underlies your never-ending correction?

Do you understand the mechanics behind the ballet position/movement/step you are trying to improve? If not, find out the details you need to know!

I believe that if you understand all the aspects of one basic thing in ballet (anatomy, mechanics, technique, style, physical requirements), something super-simple, (I didn't say easy) like standing in fifth position, you will understand a great deal about many other things in ballet.

Another example of getting more anatomical, mechanical and technical details of one factor in ballet technique is, strengthening the sole of the foot. Understanding the foot, and how to strengthen exclusively the foot muscles, not only leads to superior strength in dancing in pointe shoes, but will refine allegro, balance, landing from jumps and releves on pointe, and lots more. All this is covered in The Perfect Pointe Book, just to name one of many professionally presented dance manuals.

If you feel an overall lack of understanding of French words for ballet, and the general repertoire of ballet movements and ballet steps, The Ballet Bible is an excellent body of data, with photos and videos included.

Try selecting one recurring correction, and make a new resolution to search understanding all possible aspects of it. I believe that will affect several technical roadblocks that you may have. I think you'll gain an extra advantage and progress faster in the New Year.

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