How Can I Improve The Basics of Ballet Exercises and Build Strength For Pointe Shoes?
Posted Aug 24 2008 9:57pm
The basics of ballet exercises begin with posture, turnout, and flexibility. While being able to sit in the splits is not a prerequisite to advancing in ballet, enough flexibility to stand with a neutral spine is an advantage. And what does that have to do with the finer details of ballet technique that lead to dancing in pointe shoes?
Whether you are a younger beginner or an adult beginner, being able to self-assess your posture gives you a place to start learning technique from.
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.
So, pressing either both or one 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.
The lower part of your posture is 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.
So flexibility affects posture. Just this one detail of many finer details is your starting point. Your posture, dancing in point shoes, is going to be exactly how you are standing now. For this reason you want to build strength from a correct posture. "...so how can I improve the basics of..." starts with this.