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Advancing to the next level

hey guys,

I really want to go to the advanced class (the next level up) but i’m NO WHERE near ready. (at least i dont think.) The only thing I think im good at is balancing for a long time and turns. To get to the next level I need to have ALL my splits, a 90 degree+ arabesque, and good pointe work. (at least for ballet) most of these I dont have. I’m mostly concerned about my splits. I have been in this “pre-advanced” class for almost 3 years and I want to move on.

I can TOTALLY take on the jazz and MAYBE modern class but ballet is kinda if-ish. I need to improve. we are having manditory summer classes and I want to do something before them because they are later in the summer and are only a few weeks long. My teacher doesnt ALWAYS notice me and sometimes I try REALLY hard but still nothing. She’s nice and all and most of the students seem to like her alot but I’m kinda like “she’s ok….”. I want to impress my teacher and move on the the next level by the end of the summer. what should I do?


  • Abbie

    Work really hard in lessons, practise your class work at home and stretch every day, then you’ll be noticed by your teacher and be moving up in no time.

    Good Luck


  • Nancy

    If your teacher is not the best then maybe you should look for another school. If you get your spilts then you should be able to 90 degree arabesque.
    Hope I helped
    Are you a member of the pointe message board? I thought I saw your name there.

  • Jaymie

    For your splits, you have to do stretches outside of class. I have some suggestions which I’ll include at the bottom. Hopefully, they’re not redundant. Focus on hip turn out exercises to achieve your 90 degrees. If you’re serious about advancing and have the time and financial resources, I suggest taking pilates and contortion classes. Pilates is mainly painful for your abs, and I wouldn’t suggest a heavy dance course the following day, but it really improves your dance technique. Contortion classes are the worst! Before your first class ends, you’ll want to vomit b/c you’ll be twisting your body in ways that are completely unnatural. There are two types of contortion classes: the ones where people fit themselves inside boxes and the other one. Go for the other one!

    It’s not a bad idea to take ballet lessons somewhere else, too. Many instructors warn their students about the “dangers” of taking classes elsewhere, but they’re usually not educated or qualified to make those remarks and it’s crap. There’s nothing anatomically conflicting about getting some outside perspective. Different instructors have different methods b/c they follow different philosophies. I like to take a class with an instructor who focuses on hip turn outs, which is more precise, technique-oriented, and will take forever for advancement. To make me feel like I’ve made progress, I combine it with an instructor that emphasizes flexibility and more legwork. When you take a class that focuses too heavily on technique, you have less opportunity to become flexible.

    I disagree with Nancy about her splits philosophy, though. Just b/c someone can do the splits doesn’t mean she can do an arabesque properly. Cheerleaders can do splits. Hell, I was a cheerleader and my splits were awesome, but arabesque isn’t about reaching a flexibility range that gravity assists us with. Arabesque requires a lot of self-awareness and sensitivity and understanding of your body. You have to feel everything: your neck, your head, your fingers, hips, waist, legs, feet, everything. And you need strength, endurance, and flexibility. If you’re having difficulty lifting your legs into arabesque or maintaining it, I suggest doing leg strengthening exercises. It’s also cheating, but having someone position you to the 90 degrees and then letting go will at least familiarize your body with how it’s supposed to feel and how you should support your body. I’ve found that doing stuff like that made the goal more achievable. I have no suggestions for point work. Good luck!

    FRONT SPLITS: What I used to do was work towards a split by centering my weight but I had one leg out in front and one leg out in the back. Then, while still maintaining my center, I would push my body lower by stretching my legs out forward. When I got to the ground as far as I could, I leaned forward dropping my weight. Then, I alternated. Does that make sense? You’re supposed to move forward with each alteration.
    There’s also a wall stretch, as well. Face away from the wall that you’re planning to use and bend over as though you’re stretching. Then, lift one leg up behind you and press it towards the wall. Your goal is to basically do a side wall split. When your gesture leg is up in the air, lean closer to the wall. If you exercise regularly and properly, you’ll eventually be able to do the split in this position effortless while standing. It takes work, and you’ll feel the effects with this one more than the previously recommended, but when you accomplish the splits in this position, it means you’re way more flexible.

    SIDE SPLITS: or the straddle requires hip turn-outs, but I have a method that I love. Lie on the ground nearby a wall, so you can be at a 90 degree angle. Your upper body is on the ground, but your lower body (legs) are on the wall. Now, slowly separate your legs away from each other. Gravity surprisingly takes major effect in this position, so don’t just let your legs go. You can injure yourself that way, but by carefully controlling it, this method speeds the split process up substantially.

    For side splits, though, it’s incredibly important to develop hip turnouts. There is another stretch, but you have to be extremely carefully, and if you don’t understand what I’m explaining, don’t do it!
    I think it’s an upside down butterfly pose. The butterfly pose is when your legs are diamond shaped, knees bent, and the flat of your heels are connected to one another, right? B/c that’s what I’m talking about. Basically, you lie down: face down, ass up. You start with your legs start, but you move towards the bottom of your heels touching one another. This is hard and painful. You shouldn’t do this for long, either. With practice, it becomes more bearable. Don’t focus on being completely flat. You could really hurt yourself that way.

    If you have an opportunity to go swimming, stretch in the water. It cuts your accident rates and results in half the time! And breathe! I swear to you, breathing increases your stretches by a few inches. You should be fine, though. I hope this is clear and not redundant. Good luck!

  • Jaymie

    One more thing: Sorry, for the upside down butterfly, your elbows and wrists should be on the ground supporting most of your weight.

  • Hey, Thanks Jaymie for those exercises. They worked fine for me (3 years and counting =P), so i guess they’ll work better in a female =P, you have different bone structure, that helps on splits, and so…..

    Try Jaymie exercises!!!!