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.
"STUDIO TO STAGE" SUMMER INTENSIVE
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.