Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ballet Injury, Pain And Over Use and Muscle Recovery Time

I am shocked at the periodic reports I get about dancers' training schedules. Five to six hours a day, and as much as twelve hours on a Saturday, and then maybe two to three hours on a Sunday. Somehow a dancer may feel that he or she is imitating a professional training schedule, in their local dance academy.

Young dancers with this kind of drive need some counseling about muscle recovery. Not that recovery time is taken into consideration in general in the ballet world. Studios without any input from local physiotherapists or chiropractors (who would probably love to come to your dance school and lecture on the topic), can allow dancers to get carried away with extra recital/competition rehearsal or exam preparation.

I wince when I am asked by a student (not mine) "I have had pain in this area for two months now - do I need to start resting it?"

Most ballet teachers have or have had a student who, they know, will go home and run through the variation fifteen more times in broken pointe shoes, on a concrete floor, if necessary. Nothing will stop them.

Except, unfortunately, a ballet injury. It must be the days of relentless rain that is making me feel a little gloomy about this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Glycemic Load Chart

I found this at Dr. Al Sears site, a glycemic load chart. He explains the glycemic index numbers and the glycemic load numbers.

Good to know if you're trying to load up on healthy foods to satisfy the hunger of tired muscles, without eating carbohydrates that offer no nutrition - and, some that do, but could be substituted for lower glycemic loading foods.

Eat well! Your dancing muscles deserve it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Reader’s Choice Top Dance Blogs of 2010 Competition

Nichelle of Dance Advantage
is running a contest for the Readers' Choice Top Dance Blog of 2010.

Each dance blog responding to this contest, will be evaluated by the number of their readers' comments, and will be eligible to earn the title.

So please let me know by adding your comment, how much you enjoy this blog. We dance bloggers are a vast community, with much shared appreciation for all the dance education every blogger offers. I will very much appreciate it if you can leave some words for this blog.

I have already enjoyed the exposure to other dance bloggers I haven't come across till now, just because of this contest invite. This is fun!

I have always admired Nichelle for her Dance Advantage site and the vast range of dance topics she posts about.

Happy Holidays All!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Whey Protein Is Useful For Building Muscle Mass

 Vitamins Build Muscle - Help With Building Muscle Mass

Many dance students want to know about natural muscle building, and build those muscles up.

Perhaps you want to lose weight and keep it down, or simply build healthy muscle for your ballet training.

If that is your focus, you can take note of more information at "Best Fats For Weight Loss".

Whatever your reason, understanding how protein functions as the body's prime fuel, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight, will influence your choice of a protein supplement.

If you are on a fat burning diet, please bear in mind that most protein supplements are not meal replacements, but can be used to help you restore muscle that you break down with exercise.

So why think about adding protein if you eat healthy meals?

At one end of the spectrum you can get the drive-through hamburger, reduced in calories by having a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. However, you still have the load of saturated fat, with questionable quality beef.

Beef fed with grains, gives you too much omega 6 oils, and not enough omega 3 oils.

The abundance of omega 6 fatty acids promotes inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is natural, but should always be a temporary healing process in the body. Chronic inflammation leads to the "killer diseases": cancer, Diabetes, arterial disease, heart disease, everything a natural diet will help you avoid.

By natural - the other end of the spectrum - I mean organically produced foods, vegetables and fruits and salads uncontaminated by cancer-causing pesticides and herbicides. And when it comes to meats - why shouldn't those animals eat organically and naturally too? Fortunately, many herds do.

You can then benefit by getting protein powder made from healthy whey - milk from not miserable cows, spared the grains, growth hormones and antibiotics that most bovines are fed.

Cows that get sunshine and get to wander around munching on juicy green grass.

Check out this high quality chocolate flavored grass fed whey powder on Amazon.

You get the benefit of higher anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats in the resulting foods. And the key here is that when your body is fed enough protein, it is triggered to allow the burning of fat for energy.

Years ago I spent a weekend in the country at a fellow performer's family farm. At the end of every hearty home-grown meal, all the leftovers were wiped into a huge bowl to be taken out to the pigs. I commented on how well their pigs were fed.

My friend's grandmother quipped "Well, we're going to eat them!".

That was the first time I ever thought about what the animals I ate, ate.
I was very ignorant of the "progress" in the food industry.

  Improve your natural muscle building.!

 Be Aware! 

The perfect Vitamin B combination can also influence your muscle mass by regulating an amino acid called Homocysteine.

Learn more about the correct regulation of homocysteine here.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Muscle Building Foods and The B Vitamins

I am always trying to learn more about nutrition. The one thing that I have understood is that any nutritional component (protein, vitamin, mineral, enzyme), is one part of a whole picture and the health of the body is dependent upon ALL nutritional elements being provided for it, all the time.

I have associated the Vitamin B Complex with the support of brain hormones (moods and mental clarity) but recently I learned that the Vitamins B12, B6, and Folate, or Folic Acid, are all necessary for the conversion of the muscle building foods we eat, to the muscle tissue that dancers so direly need.

Protein from beef provides B vitamins, though it is much more abundant in the beef liver than in the muscles meats (steak!). Does every dancer eat beef liver 5-7 times a week? Not likely.

I think therefore that adding B vitamins to the diet as a supplement is pretty well mandatory for dancers and all athletes - and growing children and....well who would be exempt? Whole food supplements (vitamin pills made from food and not made in a lab) would be my choice.

Get one of these well-formulated supplements to process muscle building foods.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet Honors Dr. Arnold Spohr - Free Concert

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is honoring the late Artistic Director Emeritus Dr. Arnold Spohr, who passed away in April.

The company is hosting a free performance on October 4. Arnold Spohr led the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for three decades.

Choreographer Stephanie Ballard and Spohr's biographer, Michael Crabb will co-host.

RWB company dancers and guest artists will perform work by Jiri Kylian, Peter Quanz, Itzak Galili and others.

Tickets are free, but please reserve in advance - call 1-800-667-4792.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pointe Ballet Shoes, Sizing and Your Foot Type

I often read that pointe ballet shoes can be best fitted to 2-3 sizes smaller than your street shoes.

This is not correct, as pointe shoes, or ballet toe shoes, come in many different shapes and sizes, and street shoes do not. If you are a pointe ballet beginner and are ready to go and buy ballet shoes, know your foot type.

 Here are some ballet tips that will help.

If you have a "Greek" or "Morton's" foot type, your second toe is longer than your big toe. This means you must have the strength to keep the second toe long in the pointe shoe.

Using a toe protector such as a gel sleeve on the toe is a good idea, at least until a student is used to toe shoes. A "V" shape of the vamp, or the cloth covering the foot over the metatarsals, may be a more flattering and comfortable style of shoe. Try on a few vamp/box shapes and see what feels best.

The "Egyptian" foot is a challenging shape to fit. The big toe is longer with the other toes diminishing in length steeply. Often the little toe is opposite the ball of the foot. I

n a pointe shoes, this means that it is not even in the box. This little toe may need taping up as it will be rubbing against the wing, or the stiff outside of the shoe, instead of being tucked securely in the box with the other toes.

Make sure that as you press up through demi pointe, that the big toe joint is not meeting a too deep box edge, but can bend efficiently.

The "Giselle/Peasant" foot has three or more toes that are the same length. Often toes on such a foot are short, and medium in width.

Some students do not think this foot type is very elegant, yet it is great foot for pointe ballet. Short to medium vamps are good. This can be strong foot in toe shoes, and will likely suffer less injuries than other foot types.

The Compressible foot is one which appears quite wide when the dancer is standing. Yet this foot has little muscle structure between its bones, and will easily compress into a narrower shoe than a fitter might pick from a visual decision.

So always try on MANY pairs of shoes. Do not rush a fitting, or allow anyone else to rush you. Once you find a shoe that feels fairly good, try half a size different each way - shorter, longer, narrower, wider, just to be sure.

Point shoe sizing charts are a guide, but only a guide. After you buy your ballet toe shoes, take them to the dance studio and let your teacher check the fit before you sew ribbons on them. This way you can be sure that you have the best fit, and return the shoes if you don't.

Get your own copy of The Perfect Pointe Book for ballet terms, ballet barre exercises and you will get strong enough to start dancing in pointe ballet shoes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Right Pointe Shoe and 'Bad' Ballet Feet

It is pretty awful that when I search Google and "bad ballet feet" comes up with over a million sites and "the right ballet feet" or "flexible ballet feet" comes up with between eight and two results. It is a cultural bias that persists in the world of ballet, yet many many famous ballerinas did not have 'the right ballet feet', Margot Fonteyn, a legend, for one. But, if you have bad ballet feet, or think you do, let's talk about the right pointe shoe.

A less flexible ankle joint, requires a pliable pointe shoe usually with a lower vamp, unless the toes are long.

There are so many shapes and styles of pointe shoes. You must take time to try many on, and be fussy. Even if one type feels good, try on all that are in the category of "more pliable".

If a shoe feels good (none of them really feel GOOD), try on a half size shorter/longer/wider/narrower, just to be sure.

Do a demi plie in each one, making sure that your toes are not completely squished into the box, with pain. You need some "squish" room, because the feet spread when you plie.

Be sure to take your toe protectors to try shoes on. Take tights to put on your feet. With one foot (standing on flat with the other) press up onto a pointe position in a try-on shoe. See if your foot places onto the platform easily, and feels the whole shoe, except for the middle of the sole, or shank, which will not bend yet.

Use something for a barre and rise up onto pointe with both feet. Make sure you can rise onto the platform completely.

The right feet for pointe shoes, are feet that have been wisely prepared for pointe. Special foot exercises can be done for months before a student is ready for pointe classes.

As a matter of fact, there are NO BAD FEET IN BALLET. Except maybe those feet that have had no preparation with special training, for strength and flexibility. Get the right exercises and plenty of practice for your ballet feet, and you'll be ready for the right pointe shoe.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stretching After Exercise For the Long Leg, the Straight Leg

You are a ballet student, in contemporary dance classes, or cheer leading, and you cannot get the straight leg look. You know about stretching after exercise, and you want the long leg, straight leg look. You have learned all the good stretching exercises, yet your knees still look bent.

The following tips will help you understand whether you have a structural problem or simply need to know more effective ways to release muscle tension.

The Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes DVD teaches fitness with stretching exercises.

Relaxing the piriformis muscle (your turnout muscle) with a muscle roller stick increases your turnout and enhances relaxation of the hamstrings.

Kneading down the back of the leg while sitting on the floor, roll around to get at the tense spots on both the inside and outside of the hamstrings.

Rolling to the outside extreme, you can get into the side of the quads, muscles that will pull on the knee joint when holding chronic tension.

You can massage the lower thigh muscles above the knee, and at the sides of the knees. Don't get into the back of the knee area. It is a very delicate muscle that can be worked on by a chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist.

Learning how to release tension in the feet and calves will contribute to your overall muscle relaxation as well.

If a professional therapist tells you that you have tight ligaments around your knees, please do not plan to go home and stretch your ligaments. They are not elastic like muscles.

Take careful note of the professional advice you get. Ballet dancers especially are known for trying drastic and forceful measures to get a straight leg. Please don't!

Keep stretching after exercise and be patient with your muscles. Learn all the expertly taught and professional good stretching exercises with Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dance Classes For Boys

Because of our current social biases, many boys start dancing later than they would have liked. They know their parents might have a problem with them practicing ballet dancing positions, even if it is for technical support in their hip hop dance steps for beginners. Or jazz, contemporary dance classes, ballroom, and other dance styles.

If you never intend to dance ballet (and, if you do), there are many technical classical ballet positions and technique factors that you would benefit knowing and mastering. For instance, understanding correct ballet posture will help prevent lower back pain injury.

Knowing how to find your real degree of turnout is a bonus. Then, learning how to hold the turnout that you have, will help you prevent many dance injuries.

For example if you're still learning hip hop dance steps for beginners, and have no ballet classes, read up on turn out. Understanding and increasing your turnout will help you move fluidly, and prevent common knee injuries.

If you are older and in dance classes for adults, the same holds true. Any part of classical ballet technique is worth understanding, if you intend to dance for a while.

Most dance studios would love to offer dance classes for boys. Especially in tap dancing schools and beginning hip hop classes, teachers would be thrilled to see line ups to register for their dance classes. And, some do.

And many do not. This is understandable. The cost effect of having a dance class for 4-6 boys can be prohibitive.

Boys who want to be in a dance class have the worst and the best - social phobias, and ironically, what seems to the girls in the dance world, red carpet treatment for scholarships and advancement.

Sometimes it is the simplest of things that determines whether you dance, or for how long. To go from dance classes to a dance company requires dedication. And technical know-how. Learn the real elements of ballet turnout, whatever you form of dance you study, with the book Tune Up Your Turnout.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Higher Leg Extensions In Dance and Ballet

I've had many questions this week about higher leg extensions - so I decided to list some articles discussing the topic:

Get Higher Developpes

Build Strength For Long and Lean Ballet Muscles

The Ultimate Ballet Line - Arabesque

You'll understand that the quads do lift the legs to the front and side, and the hamstrings lift the legs to the back (a gross simplification). And you'll understand how to strengthen the psoas muscle to lift the legs above ninety degrees, and gradually you'll stop straining the quads.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weight Loss Overview - Keeping A Perspective

If you want to lose a little weight, I recommend that you cut back on all the empty carbs you may be eating. Bread, pastas, crackers, buns, cereals and potatoes. However, you must not go hungry, and you must eat enough proteins, vegetables, salads, fruits, and healthy fats.

You don't want to lose any muscle mass, or visceral fat - the fat that protects your organs. Some dancers weigh too little - oh yes.

Here are some tips to keep this all in a healthy perspective:

How To Lose Some Weight and Keep It Off this article has a link to protein calculator;

What Ballet Dancers Need To Understand About Weight Loss and Calories

What Is Your Protein Requirement

Learning To Develop Lean Muscles

Healthy Fats For Ballet Dancers

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Quote That Deserves Its Own Post re Ballet Turnout

From page 279 of Gretchen Ward Warren's book "The Art of Teaching Ballet":

"Turn-out is something a dancer does, not necessarily something he has." - Anne Woolliams

Haven't many of us said it ourselves, perhaps in a different way.....

Understanding and being able to hold the turnout that you have, is more important than the turnout that you have!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Word of Encouragement For Late Ballet Starters


I get many queries from young dancers as to what are their chances for becoming professional. This is a general answer to dancers whom I cannot see -

I can't see you dance and give an opinion as to whether you could make the professional grade or not, I will try to help you see it for yourself. Here are some professionally trained 14-17 yr old dance students, who will be able to get a job in a world class ballet company:

This play list includes other schools as well. Compare the ability and technique to the students at your school/company and you will see how your abilities match. Bear in mind that these students have had 6-10 classes a week with world class teachers since they were 9-10 yrs old - so don't get self-critical! (I know, dancers specialize in that!).

While it may not be possible for you to train well enough to get into the top world ballet companies, perhaps you would qualify for a smaller/regional company. Look at as many as you can on line.

Consider a ballet summer intensive next year at a major school, to see if you can work day after day in a professional training schedule.

Get a dance manual like The Perfect Pointe Book (you can CLICK HERE to get your copy) so you can improve faster. It focuses on the vital basic technical details of classical ballet with lots and lots of foot exercises and strength tests.

Here is where you can learn to get really flexible as an adult ballet beginner.

Those three references above can keep you busy for a year! Professional dancers do those exercises ongoing, at whatever level they need.

Look into BFA programs where you will train and perform through your college years, and be able to go on to dance history, criticism or teaching when you can no longer perform. Pointe magazine publishes a list of colleges that offer dance programs.

Or, you could enter a B.Sc. program in dance that will proceed to dance medicine/physical therapy as a specialty for after you stop dancing. In the meantime, you will be dancing!

If you cannot have the career that a dancer with 8-10 years of intense training can have, there is much to do in the world of ballet! Since you are so drawn to ballet, you must believe that you have a special gift to offer the dance world, in one way or another.

Keep your personal vision alert and wide, and your adventures in dance may be amazing!

Posts on Knee Injuries

I just had a request for information on knee injuries. Here are the posts I've written about that.

Posts about turnout refer to preventing knee injuries as well - listed down on the left.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

David Hatch Walker 1949-2010

Older Martha Graham Company fans may remember David Hatch Walker, formerly a principal dancer.

The National Ballet School of Canada's 50th reunion is coming up, and therefore classmates have been looking each other up and happily getting in touch after many years (well, my classmates anyway).

I have wondered for the past few years why I could not find David through the internet. I thought he had to be teaching somewhere.... last year I heard from The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance that they had not been able to locate him.

Recently, Ann Ditchburn (NBS classmate) inquired at the Martha Graham Center and received this back:

"Dear Ann,

I'm so sorry to tell you that we received news a few weeks ago that David Hatch Walker had passed away. We were told he had MS. This information came to us from Trish Beaty. You can reach her at xxxxxx. I danced with David for years. He was a beautiful dancer who could transform himself in the Graham roles. It's terribly sad to have lost him.



Janet Eilber
Artistic Director
Martha Graham Center"

I then asked Amy Bowring of Dance Collection Danse (Canada's dance history archives)if she had any information about David. She sent me this youtube link of David dancing in "Diversions of Angels" (also features his wife of that time, Takako Asakawa), saying that David had had MS and died of a stroke, in Toronto, this February.

My condolences to David's loved ones that we classmates do not know....I last saw David in NYC in the early 80's....

I know that David would have had supportive visits from his Toronto classmates, had they known. We will sadly miss seeing him or hearing from him....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Getting Back to Ballet

Getting back to ballet after a few years off seems intimidating to many who can't ignore the call to dance.

A child, teen, or adult ballet student will need a different approach. Some may need to get in shape for ballet for a few months.


Unless there is a medical condition, there is no reason not to go back to classical dancing.

For example, perhaps you took ballet classes from the age of five to fifteen.

Then for some reason you decided to go to college. You pursue academics for a couple of years, and realize you really miss dancing. You were considered a talented student formerly, but now you worry about what it would take to get back to an advanced level.

Early in the year, look into summer intensives. The more established summer intensives will ask you to audition, and may have already held their auditions.

Sometimes a smaller more local studio is the best, as you may get more attention in those classes than in a major ballet school.

After intensive study, you and your teachers will have a good idea of whether you can make the progress you want.

But you don't have to wait....if you can, right now, take a weekly ballet class, starting in a less advanced class than you had been doing so you can have "the luxury" of concentrating on basic ballet technique. The fancy combinations of an advanced class would be a distraction.

In some cases a dedicated student gets accepted into a full time training ballet school, and "something happens". After recovery from injury or some other situation, has taken place, an ambitious teen can be tortured by not knowing how the previous scenario would have played out - and wonders if she/he should try to get back to it.

I say if you can, audition again. Some of the training schools have a special course for older students who are talented enough to make quick progress, or go into a teacher training program that dovetails with a degree program.

Sometimes a teacher is approached by a student who quit ballet at the very old age of ten, after five years of classes. Now she/he wants to get back into class, and isn't sure how to catch up.

Many studios like to keep classes geared to an age range, but I would put this student into a very basic technique class once a week for a while. She/he could also take a class closer to the previous level studied. That way boredom won't take over.

Doctors I have asked say that the best cardio/endurance training for dancers is swimming. There is no impact on the joints at all, as there is with jogging or running.

If you want some ballet barre exercises explained to practice effectively, use The Perfect Pointe Book to get back into pointe shoes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spotting For Pirouettes Correctly

Spotting is the technique used by ballet dancers to avoid dizziness while doing multiple turns. In ballet classes, and in theaters, dancers will find a "spot" that they can see, and upon which they will focus throughout, for example, the 32 fouettes performed in Swan Lake by the ballerina, or a series of turns a la seconde by the male dancer.

When you reach the point in ballet training where turns are added to your class exercises, often spotting will be taught first.

Imagine a child spinning, just for the joy of it. Children will do this until they are too dizzy to stay upright, and then they will collapse. In the dance studio, the same playful spin can be done. With one difference.

Choosing a spot on the wall, which could be a picture of a famous ballerina, or whatever decoration the dance teacher may have chosen to inspire her/his students, a dance student can spin while focusing on the spot.

In slow motion, as the dancer spins away from the front, or corner of the studio as it may be, she or he leaves their head behind, focusing on the spot. At the last possible moment, the dancer whips the head around to regain focus before the body reaches the front again.

That is spotting. Within the requirements of ballet technique a few points are added.

The head must not incline. The entire body posture of a retire position, or an a la seconde position, must not be influenced by the head staying behind to remain focused on the spot. Same for a turn in arabesque or attitude.

Usually, chainee turns are the first ones learned. Remaining in first position, the entire body position must be held while the dancer spots.

This achievement then assumes that the core and turnout muscles are well held. The arms remain in a fifth en avant or slightly over - crossed position, and the NECK IS RELAXED, allowing the head to spot, without inclination.

A modern, jazz or hip hop dancer does the same.

Image: many years ago I watched Helgi Thomason give dancer Victor Edwards a correction in class. He said something like "imagine your body is spinning underneath your head, which just stays looking at the front".

That's spotting.

Every dancer needs to accomplish proper spotting before dancing in pointe shoes. The most subtle errors in posture, turnout, and basic ballet positions will be exaggerated once you are en pointe. Be prepared for dancing in pointe shoes by getting a professionally written guide specific for pointe shoe exercises.

How To Build Strength In Your Calves For Ballet and Pointe

I just found this page of exercises on a post by Ken Woodman at

This is the thread where Ken discusses why these exercises are best.

I was glad to find this because I cringe when I see kids ask each other how to increase strength for pointe work and many seem to think "do a hundred releves a day" is more or less the solution.

I have to admit I have not taken up this issue thoroughly till now, and I will continue to add info when I find anything different. But, Ken (thank you), explains these well.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Costumes For Boys In Ballet - Creativity Wanted!

Nina Amir has written a very relevant post about costumes for boys in ballet at her blog My Son Can Dance.

This is indeed an area that can benefit from creativity! I've been in conflicts with directors quite a few times over boys'/mens costumes. I've seen arguments about whether boys/men should shave their armpits or not. Or shave off a moustache because of one piece of choreography...I've seen people resign over it.

It is not easy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How To Do a Sissone Lift - Pas de Deux for Good Partnering

Today's pas de deux snippet is a nice clear look at a sissone lift - including explanation et al - and a good view at a shoulder lift, that a pas de deux boy ballet student would appreciate.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inland Pacific Ballet Offers Free Scholarship Class For Boys

I found this today at:
"Inland Pacific Ballet offers free scholarship class for boys
Jennifer Dean
on February 17, 2010 6:23 AM

Inland Pacific Ballet Academy, the official school of Inland Pacific Ballet, is currently offering a free scholarship class specifically for boys taught by Jonathan Sharp, IPB Guest Principal Dancer and former member of the USC Dance Department faculty.

The free class is held on Thursdays from 4-5:15 p.m. and is open to boys age 8 and older. No previous dance experience is required and all levels are accepted.

Designed to help male dancers and athletes develop coordination, flexibility and balance, the class focuses on upper body and leg strength. The program provides strenuous body conditioning for injury prevention, and is excellent cross training for all athletes, particularly tennis, basketball and football players. Artistic appreciation and musicality are also introduced.

"Bringing boys together to train artistically lets us focus on the key strengths of the male body," Sharp said. "This class includes a little bit of martial arts combined with strength training and theater games. We work on how to stay balanced, turning, how to jump higher and have a powerful landing."

For more information call 909-482-1590 or visit"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Teaching Aid - A New Anatomy Coloring Book - Doing The Splits

From Deborah Vogel:

"I now have Anatomy Coloring
Pages for the young dancer available in the store. They are in a
pdf format that you do multiple copies of for your younger students.

The muscles that are included in the coloring pages are:
1. rotators (turnout muscles)
2. Quadriceps
3. Hamstrings
4. Iliopsoas
5. Adductor (inner thigh)
6. Abductor (lateral hip)
7. Abdominals
8. Soleus (deeper calf muscle that determines depth of demi pliƩ)
9. Gastrocnemius
10. Deltoid (that lifts the arm)

Each page demonstrates the action of the muscle, has an insert of
what the actual muscle looks like, and at the bottom of each page
is a sentence describing the action in simple terms. Perfect for the
youngest (6 - 8 yrs) to begin learning about their body!

The price is right - only $9.95 so check them out!

Warm regards,

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

Deborah has given ballet teachers a tool with which to train students anatomy they need to know....and I believe that those students who feel frustrated with "doomed with my body type", can learn how to get more flexible and improve safely.

What a wonderful teaching aid!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Learn Ballet Arm Positions and Improve Your Ballet Technique

Correct and elegant ballet arm positions depend on correct spinal posture, correct hold on the turnout, and correct placement of feet on the floor (and knee positions, if you are hyper-extended). It sounds complex, but ballet body posture is natural and allows for relaxed movements of the neck, head and arms. Following are a few tips so that you know how to improve.

When you, especially if you are an adult beginner, learn ballet, there is a lot of information to absorb about basic positions.

The basics of ballet exercises begin with posture, turnout, and flexibility. Having enough flexibility to stand with a neutral spine is an advantage.

Standing sideways to a mirror, lift your chest a little, breathe easily, and notice how you stand. Look to see if your shoulders are relaxed to the side of your torso, as opposed to resting forwards.

If your shoulders do rest a little forward, here is a very easy stretch. Commonly called the doorway stretch - stand in a doorway. See if you can raise your arms so your elbows are shoulder level, and your forearms are raised upwards at a 90 degree angle to your upper arms. With your palms facing forwards, can you press your forearms into the door jamb on either side? If not, you will stretch one side at a time.

Pressing your forearm into the door jamb, lean forward until you feel a stretch across your chest. Just stretch gently, holding for 10 seconds, and releasing. You can do this several times a day - whenever you walk through a doorway! Gradually you will see that your shoulders will relax more towards the side, in line with the plane your ears occupy.

Next check the posture of your pelvis. If you have equal flexibility in your quads, or front thigh muscles, and hamstrings, on the back of your thighs, and also your postural abdominal muscles, your pelvis should rest in a "neutral" position. This means it is not pulled into a tilt in either direction due to tight muscles. Therefore your back does not sway, increasing the curve at the back of your waist, nor does the pelvis tilt back, pulling the natural curve into a straight line.

If your hard work in ballet classes builds strength from correct posture, chances are that you will have elegant ballet arm positions that will improve your technique.

Ballet is an art form that increases the magical and imaginative dimension of life. Understanding how to learn ballet brings you real physical results. It's your journey, it's your dance. Enjoy!

Excerpt from "Train Your Brain: A Teen's Guide to Well Being"

Today Deborah Vogel wrote:

"Another Dancing Smart newsletter has been posted.

This one is on improving focus and I have included
an excerpt from Train Your Brain: A Teen's Guide
to Well Being."

Go to Deborah's site The Body Series and click on the blog button in the top menu.

You can learn ways to train yourself to focus away from negative emotions, tension and anxiety. Positive emotions will enhance all your work in ballet and dance training. Positive emotions strengthen your immune system.

Learn how to enjoy - relish! - ballet class, school, and all the inherent challenges life brings. When you know how, you can change your life direction. You do not have to wait until you are "grown up".

Friday, January 29, 2010

"STUDIO TO STAGE" SUMMER INTENSIVE At The National Ballet School of Canada

From their recent newsletter:

"Offered for the first time at NBS is a new open dance program for students 12-16 years.
Offering a rich program in dance instruction – including Ballet, Musical Theatre, Character & Repertoire students will receive the best training in light-filled studios on NBS' award-winning campus, from
August 3 13 with NBS' world-renowned Artistic staff.

Class sizes will be small, with no more than 20 students in each. There are only 60 spaces available, with registration beginning February 1st, register Monday!

For more details, visit our "Studio to Stage" Summer Intensive webpage.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Avoid Being Too Stiff For Ballet With Simple Resistance Stretching

A while ago when I wrote an article about office space workouts I was astounded at the high number of times it was read. I was aware that many recreational adult ballet dancers sit on a chair all day, or do some other repetitive or physically confining work. If you cannot sit on a physio ball, as I've suggested before, there are ways of getting more flexible with daily resistance stretching, sitting at your desk.

With recent discoveries about how to get more flexible by understanding the connective tissue in the body, called fascia, the most simple of exercises can be appreciated in a new way.

Understanding resistance stretching and doing just a little every day will improve adult ballet, and any sports or fitness activities.

Many working people like us experience neck pain and stiffness every day. Sitting in front of a computer screen, perhaps in a detrimental ergonomic design, (working with supports for back, elbow and wrists at the wrong angles) will build tension in the neck.

Lacking a good office chair, low back pain and stiffness can progress from periodic to chronic.

Having your feet too far from the floor affects your posture also, adding to neck and low back strain.

This is all worse, and creates anxiety if you are feeling this tension increase all day, while planning to go to your adult ballet class in the evening after work, or some other sports/fitness activity.

Stretching with resistance is the ultimate yet simple way of staying more flexible. For example: you intend to stretch the right side neck muscles. You reach over your head with your left hand, and pull your head to the left. Resistance is pushing back into your hand with your head. If you have never stretched like this, it sounds strange.

However, it feels wonderful!

If you had five minutes in the morning and another five in the afternoon, you could do daily stretches at work and gain on getting more flexible. Then, when you got into ballet class, you'd feel a lot different!

Failing to do any kind of stretches daily regardless of your other activities is not good for you. However, learning a simple yet effective routine will start to reverse your decrease in flexibility.

Is it too late for you to get more flexible? I don't know, and maybe you feel that increasing your flexibility would be difficult. If you learn properly and work gently, you will make progress. I have found Deborah Vogel's Ultimate Stretching Guide for good stretching exercises to be an easy to learn at home program.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flexiblibility Exercises - How To Do Effective Ballet/Sports/Cheer Leading Stretching

Those of us who were not born with that amazing flexibility to do the splits and perfect ballet positions can learn how to get more flexible with a simple yet truly ultimate stretching guide. For daily stretches, for example, even at an office space desk, the same exercises can be done discreetly to improve your comfort and efficiency.

So you want to know how to get more flexible. Education prevents injury, and I will help you learn from expert guidance that I have found.

The real secret to stretching has been recently revealed by some of the top dance medicine experts in the world. I say "revealed" not because it has been some trade secret that a few have kept to themselves - not at all - but the human body is understood better and better all the time.

And here is a warning - when you look at this information, do not underestimate its effectiveness because of the simplicity of the presentation. Or because the presenter is not sitting in the splits while showing the stretching exercises.

Actually, if you try it out, I think you will really appreciate the quality of the data and the ease with which you can start doing it.

Now the latest data on stretching without injury, and with incredible results when done properly, is available to you and me.

Right now you don't know exactly how much more flexible you can get. But you CAN learn safe stretching, with understanding of how the body tightens up as you grow. If you want to improve at ballet, sports, fitness, cheer leading or another athletic goal, find out about how to do the best flexiblibility exercises.