This Article is About
ballet stretches
stiff ankles
ballet positions
high arches
doing the splits
body posture
calf muscles
hip joints
pointe shoes
muscle tension
How To Advance Quickly In Ballet
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You can learn how to advance quickly in ballet whether you are "born to dance" or not. If you are clear on your goals, and why you have chosen ballet as a workout, you will progress even more quickly. Am I saying you will be in pointe shoes in a few months? Or doing the splits or leaping in grand jetes? No, I am not promising that.

However, I can assure you that the more you understand about the very basics of ballet technique, ballet positions, and ballet movements, the faster your physical progress will be.

Start With Your Goals

  • want to lose weight
  • want to dance in pointe shoes
  • want to get more flexible
  • want ballet foot control
  • want pre pointe exercises
  • want that long lean look

Whatever your personal goal is, you are starting exactly where you are, right now. You may be flexible and lean, short and overweight...have high arches or stiff ankles. You may feel awkward and want more grace. Taking ballet is going to change everything for the better, to some degree. Here are some pointers to think about.

Ballet Flexibility And Proper Ballet Stretches

For graceful ballet movements, one range of motion that is important is your demi plie. This is a knee bend that stops when you can no longer keep your heels on the floor. Getting the best depth of this movement depends on:

  • correct placement of your feet on the floor and distribution of body weight
  • your natural calf length as well as the maintenance of relaxation in the calf muscles
  • your upper body posture, or the alignment of shoulders, spine, and hips, over the knees and ankles

This one ballet movement/position, your demi plie, is going to determine your ultimate strength in propelling your releves (or getting up onto a strong demi pointe or onto pointe shoes), and your jumps.

The demi plie is also inserted into many combinations simply to relax and stretch the calf muscles and relieve muscle tension.

Ballet Turnout

Understanding ballet turnout, the kind of hip joints that you have, and how to utilize your turnout to the maximum, is a lengthy topic. What I will mention here is that it is important to turn in, and relax the turnout muscles in between your ballet barre exercises.

The turnout muscles are your inner rotator muscles in the hip and pelvis area, not the big gluteal muscles, or your "butt" muscles. However, you do feel tension in the butt muscles, as they will automatically engage to help stabilize your posture.

Developing Those Ballet Or Pointe Shoe Foot Muscles

Every time you do a battement tendu, or any foot movement leaving a closed ballet position into an open position, brushing into the floor, you have an opportunity to create a resistance. Your posture is held strong on one end of the movement, while your foot pushes on the other end.

So you strengthen your core muscles as you maintain your ballet positions. Every movement out, and then closing back to a first, third or fifth ballet position, is a chance to use those sole of the foot muscles.

Note that, if the intrinsic foot muscles, or the muscles exclusive to the feet, are not strengthened properly, the lower leg muscles will strain to point and flex the foot. This may lead to shin splints, calf spasms, and even Achilles Tendonitis, if not corrected. There are special pre pointe foot exercises, excellent for men in ballet as well.

Getting A Higher Leg Extension In Ballet

The postural muscles that run from the upper front of the thighs, over the hip joint, and insert into the spine at the front of your body, allow the spine to bow and permit your leg to rise to the back. Your hamstrings (back of the thigh) muscles and your gluteal muscles assist this movement into a beautiful ballet position, arabesque.

For getting an easy movement to the side and front, the hamstrings and long inner thigh adductor muscles need to be flexible, as the upper top thigh muscles, the quadriceps, do the lifting. A lot of ballet teachers still say "lift your leg from underneath". That does not happen. But what they mean is, lift the leg but leave the hip bone down, maintaining the spinal posture.

You can stretch all these muscles over time, as well learn some relaxation techniques which will help. Understanding some aspects of nutrition, such as the need for magnesium, also helps with getting more flexible.

All this information (and there is much more!) might seem a little overwhelming when you are a ballet beginner. Learn a good home workout for ballet flexibility, and practice pre pointe exercise and you will know how to advance quickly in ballet.

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