3 Reasons Dancers Should Stretch « Ballet Tips and Tricks

Leg stretches are especially important for ballet dancers. Leg stretches involving the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves improve flexibility and help prevent injury. There are three major reasons why ballet dancers should stretch.

1. More flexibility. A few dancers are “noodles”. They can twist themselves into pretzels. They don’t need more flexibility. Most of us are not like that. Most of us need to stretch to get the freedom of good turnout. We need to stretch to get the soaring arabesques and the effortless extensions that are so beautiful.

2. Fewer injuries. Have you ever kicked your leg up with too much force and pulled your hamstring muscle? Or maybe you fell and pulled something. Dancers who are flexible are less likely to get these types of injuries because their muscles can handle the unexpected stretch.

3. Less sore. When you work a muscle hard or in a new way, it will often be sore for a couple of days. For example, it you lift your leg to the front and hold it until it trembles, your thigh muscles (quadraceps) are probably going to be sore. If you stretch them out right away, you increase the flow of blood to the overworked muscle and it will not be as sore.

via 3 Reasons Dancers Should Stretch « Ballet Tips and Tricks.

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIJn9qam4LY

Pointe Shoe Care – The Ballet Site

You have just bought new point shoes and you’re excited to use them. Before you do, check out these tips on care and maintenance of ballet point shoes to make sure your pointe shoes last.

.


Image Via – Pointe Shoes

You’ve heard it a thousand times, but let me make it clear: never leave your wet pointe shoes in your dance bag! Not allowing them to properly dry will decrease the life of your expensive pointe shoes.

Many types of shellacs and glues are available for re-hardening pointe shoes. One in particular that I have heard of is called Fabulon, which can be purchased at your local hardware store or sometimes even through dance stores.

via Pointe Shoe Care – The Ballet Site.

how to be better

i’m a new dancer and i am constantly reminded of how im not as good as everyone in my class’, so I would like to know some ways on how i can make my extensions better, how i can get higher, and how i could get my extension better, also how i can get better arches?? please please help me!!

better-dancer

how to soften ballet flats

the other day i found out that if you massage talcom powder into leather ballet shoes it makes the leather a lot more soft and supple you should try it

how to perfect your pirouttes

Before i was allowed to turn my teacher made stand in revele with one of my feet in reterie for 4 counts this really helps develop your balance .

Changing pointe shoes, not only a matter of esthetics

You have bought your new pointe shoes only a few weeks ago, love them and would love to wear them forever, they are so comfortable !

They probably are not as clean as when you received them the first time. They have taken your feet morphology and are less and less supportive with weeks.

This is absolutely normal ! Do you know that :

  • During a ballet lesson, shoes support a 5 Tons – not far from 5 cars’ weight !
  • 80 % of Those 5000 kilograms are mainly supported by the end of the shoe, something like 4 square centimeters !
  • Those 4 square cm are the only contact area between the dancer and the floor !
  • Your beloved shoes "drink" about 2 moisture liters during a ballet lesson !
  • You pull a strength of about 100 kilograms each time you do a relevé to go from flat to en pointe !
  • The average life duration for a pair of pointe shoes (based on a weekly 1 to 3 hours ballet training) – ie. the time during which pointe shoes can be worn and used with the highest level of safety – is only 3 to 6 months.
  • Not enough supportive pointe shoes will bring :
  • Burns : The foot will rub more and more to the inside of the shoes, the skin will become burnt.
  • Tendinits : ankle and knees muscles will need to work twice more to counter-balance the low arch support
  • Muscular distorsions : Shoes can loose their shape – or worst, collapse- while en pointe.
  • Micro bones breakage : Those are microscopic parts of bone reduced to calcium powder, mainly due to the direct contact of the toe withe floor, without any protection.
  • Incarnated Nail : Probably the most painful, this is when a nail grows to the bottom instead of straight forward, because nails are in direct contact with the floor.

You can "simulate" all this pain (well, do you really need to ??? No, Do not do that !), just try to go en pointe without wearing pointe shoes (off course, hold to a chair / a barre / whatever).

All those traumas – althought they can be repaired – may highly impact your overall health and considerably shorten (or definitely end) your Ballet Dancing Life !

Aware of this all, probably those little dirts that have appeared on your shoes (yes, you will never keep them as clean as the first day if you use them) are far from beeing important, aren’t they ??

Isn’t your safety more important than those small details ? It is, certainly !! 

 Anyway, here come a few tips to give a few more life to your pointe shoes :

  • After your pointe lesson, never put shoes in a plastic bag. Hang them somewhere – away from any heath source – for at least 3 days.
  • Put talcum powder in your shoes before you wear them and once they are dry. Remove the excess before wearing them also ! Not only this will make them dry a little more, they will also have a good perfume, like babies 😉 
  • Pointe shoes are yours and only yours. Never let an other girl wear or use them. They are your pointe shoes !
  • To avoid mould in not used for a long time shoes, you can use moisture absorbing pouch you can find in most electronic appliances. Just put a pouch in each shoe.
  • You can divide by 3 the traction strength on your shoes by just adding rubber bands over the "cou de pied" on your shoes.
  • Whenever possible, buy 2 pairs of shoes, and use each one lesson out of two .
  • Avoid as much as possible wearing pointe shoes outside and, if you really have to, wear a pair of socks over. You also can use those sort of rubber / latex socks used around pools, and wear them over your shoes.
  • Do the same in your ballet school when you leave the dance mat, place those socks over your shoes.
  • Last, always keep a spare pair of pointe shoes, they can sometimes be very long to get 🙂

If your shoes already seem a bit too old, you can try the following tips (this will not avoid buying new ones, just give you a few more time to :

  • Put your shoes in the fridge for a few hours.
  • Apply a thin layer of colourless wood varnish on the toe of your shoes
  • Put a few nail varnish on the most broken parts of the shoes.

All those tips and informations will help you feel better in your dancing, and dance better !

 

Feel free to contact me for any comment / question or whatever !!

 

Olivier

Ballet Lesson 7 of 7: Tying Pointe Shoes

Tying Pointe Shoes

Tying pointe shoes incorrectly is as dangerous for the health of the dancer’s body, as progressing to using pointe shoes without having sufficient training, and being capable enough to dance en pointe. The decision to move to pointe shoes should only be made by a qualified dance teacher who knows the students body and limitations and is prepared to supervise this progression.

Harm and injury is caused to the feet, legs and spine through the improper fitting, and tying of pointe shoes. This guide aims to provide a starting place for any dancer progressing through to pointe shoes, however it is the part of the dancer to ensure that not only has a competent teacher informed them that they are ready to make the transition, but also that they visit a suitable qualified shoe specialist to have the right shoes chosen for their particular foot type.

Most ballet teachers will set aside a full lesson in which the class is taught how to tie their pointe shoes, and also how to prepare them for dancing, to increase the dancers comfort and the longevity of the shoe. For a beginner learning to tie pointe shoes the correct way can be a tedious and time consuming exercise but it is imperative for the health of the dancer.

Although some dancers may choose to tie their pointe shoes while their foot is flat, it is preferable for them to be tied while the foot is in the en pointe position. As this is the position in which the shoe was designed to dance in. The most important thing to remember when tying pointe shoes while the foot is en pointe is to after the tying is complete to attempt to flatten the foot slightly flexing the muscles within to ensure that at those periods when it is required that the foot be flat that the circulation to the foot is still free.

Another important point to remember when tying pointe shoes is to ensure that the ribbons are tied reasonably close together around the ankle as this provides the foot with the most support. And also the ribbon should be as smooth and flat as possible, both for aesthetic reasons, and also to prevent any excess friction which could lead to painful blisters and calluses. Finally it is important to remember to tie the knot in the ribbon on the inside of the ankle rather than at the back of the foot as this way helps to minimize the pressure on the tendons in the ankle.

When tying any ballet shoes, the inside ribbon should be first crossed over the ankle to the outside, going around the back of the ankle. This needs to be reversed for the outside ribbon, with it traveling across the back of the ankle to the inside. Depending on the length of the ribbon it may need to be crossed over the back more than once. The ribbon should be tied in a knot just above the ankle bone (the small ball like bone on the ankle). The important difference with tying pointe shoes should lie with also crossing the ribbon over at the arch of the foot, before wrapping it around the back of the ankle to provide a greater feeling of support.

You can find out more in The Complete Ballet Bible Package

Ballet Lesson 6 of 7: Battement Tendus

Battement Tendus

This photograph illustrates the incorrect execution of a Battements Tendus. A Battement Tendus is both the commencing position and the concluding position of a grand battement and is often used as an exercise to force the insteps outward. The foot which is working (that which is not stationary on the floor) moves from in this case the first position, to the second or fourth position, with the toe remaining on the ground at all times. Throughout the movement it is important that both knees be kept straight. After the foot has reached the position pointe tendue, as it featured in the photograph, it then returns to the first position. Cinquième may also be done with a demi-plié in the first or fifth position. They should be practiced en croix. An alternative movement for the Cinquième is for the feet to start from fifth position.

There is one main problem with the way that the dancer in the photograph is performing the battement tendus, that being her body is not properly aligned and is instead tipped too far toward the non working foot. The secondary problem with this demonstration is the dancer’s turnout, referring to the rotation of her feet.

Leaning to the side, or the transverse, is a common issue for beginner dancers. There are several reasons for why it may be happening including underdeveloped strength or balance, and the broad answer to this like other issues is practice, practice, practice. To address the issue it is important to distribute the weight evenly over the body, an uneven distribution of weight, with more leaning on the non working leg will cause the entire body to lean.

Likewise a conscious effort to not do this can mean an unequal distribution of weight with more on the working leg and leaning toward this side. A good indication of if the weight is distributed evenly is the dancers grip on the barre, if the barre is being held too tight this is a fair sign that the weight is being tilted toward one side, the barre is merely a tool for assistance not a life line, place the hand on it as a guide, but don’t depend upon it. A dancer needs to have faith in his or her own body, and trust that it is strong enough to hold itself confidently in any position.

Turn out is a major component of ballet, and was developed to improve the aesthetics of the dance. In saying that, the perfect 180 degree turnout is something that takes time, patience, dedication and practice to develop. Forcing an ideal turnout before the body is fully ready increases the risk of injury in the back, knees and hips.

An exercise often used by dancers in order to improve their turnout is the ronds de jamb which is rather similar to the Battement Tendus in that the working leg, or the leg off the ground is moved around the body to draw and invisible semi circle on the ground.

You can find out more in The Complete Ballet Bible Package

Ballet Lesson 5 of 7: Plie en Cinquième

Plie en Cinquieme

This photograph gives an example of a position plie en Cinquième. This position is basically fifth position with the bending of the knees, down into a plie. Like before where the dancer has made mistakes with the positioning of the body in fifth position these follow into plie en Cinquième. This highlights the importance of mastering each of the five positions before moving on to more advanced movements.

As outlined before for fifth position, flexibility and strength needs to be developed before this movement is able to be performed correctly. The correct performance of plie en Cinquième involves the dancer positioning themselves at the barre. The most important element of a plie to remember especially in fourth and fifth position is to let both knees move out equally, that is to ensure that the back knee does not roll forward, and to distribute the weight easily over the centre of the body, not allowing too much weight to move to either the front leg, or the back leg.

In order to keep the body straight throughout, a clever idea is to imagine a string running down the length of the body, as the top half of the body lowers to move into the plie, the string is trying to pull the body up higher. This helps to keep the spine tall and straight and helps to eliminate the rolling back, or in this case forward of the pelvic bone, and therefore upsetting the line of the derriere.

Like stated in the section on Plie en Premiere, it is important that the dancer goes no further with a Plie than he or she is physically able. This need is magnified with the Plie en Cinquième, as if performed to a level higher than the body is able, the bodies balance may be upset enough for the dancer to fall over, and whilst falling over is something which is not at all bad in rehearsal, in performance it can upset the performer and any others who are on stage. So it is important to understand the bodies’ limitations.

You can find out more in The Complete Ballet Bible Package

Ballet Lesson 4 of 7: Fifth Position

5th Position

This picture shows the feet in fifth position. Fifth position is the most common of the five basic foot positions and involves the toes of the front foot being equal with and touching the heel of the back foot and vice versa. When in fifth position the dancer’s arms may be positioned above the head as highlighted in the first photograph, or alternatively falling rounded forming an oval shape in front of the body, as they are in the first position.

Despite being the most common position it is also the hardest to correctly perform. While in fifth position it is important that the feet move equally to one another. Like the other positions when in fifth position the top of the body should form a straight line, however in the photograph, the dancer’s pelvis is tilted forward a little too far causing the derriere to appear flat and lifeless.

As outlined in the above lesson where the derriere was sticking out, this is caused by a lack of control over the muscles in the back and stomach, and in order for this to be rectified these muscles must be strengthened, as must the technique be worked on to ensure that the dancer is able to correctly perform this step before moving onto steps which are more involved, and as such put the dancer at a risk of injury.

There are several problems with the way that this position is being performed. The movement does not look like the dancer has enough control over her legs, with the knees being able to be positioned over the toes, and the ankles pulled up while the bottom is too flat. Each of these needs to be addressed separately in order for the movement to appear both controlled and fluent. Control of the legs must come from the hips. All muscles of the legs need to be working toward making fifth position appear effortless and fluent.

Before a dancer is able to master fifth position, he or she should progress through each of the previous four positions moving on only when they have mastered the position previous. This ensures that the dancer’s technique is developed enough to handle the subsequent movements. The positions in ballet have been numbered according to the level of skill which is required to be able to perform the position correctly.

You can find out more in The Complete Ballet Bible Package