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7 Highly Effective Tips for Fouettes in Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:29pm
Travelling in turns usually is a problem of strength holding the postural plumb line. If the position and movement is not correct, the turns will travel and flounder.

Here are 7 highly effective tips to examine your technique for fouettes and turns a la seconde:

** Standing sideways to a mirror, do a few press ups in first position. Do you have a postural plumb line? If your core, your turnout, your ankles and soles of the foot are steady, also check to see that these movements are done with no strain in the shoulders and neck.

** With fingertips on the barre, do slow motion press ups and down in retire, or a la seconde. If you can do this without strain in the neck and shoulders, great. If there is strain, you need to build up strength in your core, and possibly overall. If a postural deviation from your plumb line shows up here, check for technical accuracy.

** What specific technical accuracy? The basics, always. Is your turnout strong, or have you compensated by shoving your supporting heel forward when you plie, changing your center of balance? Are you dropping back in the bottom of the demi plie? A shorter demi plie is not a bad thing. What counts is being in good posture in your demi plie so that you can press with your heel/foot, into the floor, and use gravity to push up, without having to make another compensation to rise into a straight position. It's a lot more work to keep all these compensations/countercompensations going.

I want to make a comment here about Classical Stretch, the Full Body Workout and Athletes' Intense Stretch. On a day off dance classes, this is a wonderful routine. It is not too hard on the legs and back, which need to rest, it combines Pilates with balletic style for your core strength, and it fulfills the need for stretch and relaxation that most dancers neglect. Good muscle tone is not just work, work, and more work.

** Spend several weeks if necessary, to address the above issues, until you can do rises and releves with correct posture and placement. Learn some Pilates core work, and stretch and relax all your muscles, before, during and after class.

** To check your spotting, do an easy echappe from fifth to second, turning as far as you can toward a quarter turn, leaving your head to the front. I don't specifiy exactly how far you should turn, because this depends on the extent your head will turn without inclining. Continue to echappe turning, and close, leaving the head behind, until you face front, then repeat on the other side. This is just to feel the looseness of your neck muscles in leaving your head behind.

** Repeat this exercise in retire or a la seconde. Use a partner, to hold the hand of your supporting side as you turn away from the front. Again, this is to check the neck (and shoulders) relaxation as you releve, and to check your postural plumb line in the position of your turn, and your demi plie. (We haven't dealt with fouette yet).

** For fouettes, use a partner in the center, to do your demi plie with the leg extended devant, and then do a slow motion press up with the ronde de jambe and into retire, turning a little. This is to again check the postural plumb line, correct demi plie, and ease of the neck in leaving the head behind.

This whole process may take place over a whole year. You will be doing your pirouettes, fouettes and turns a la seconde all the time. But as you gain strength, and learn to see and feel those tiny compensations you have been doing, you will build excellent work habits for these spectacular feats.

Ballet is much harder to do wrong. If your early training wasn't the best, you can back-peddle like this to correct technique in your advanced levels.

For any overworked muscles use an ice pack at least twice a day. A homeopathic cream called Traumeel is wonderful for soft tissue repair. Apply after icing.

For more articles, Classical Stretch, ballet wear and pointe shoes, go here.
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