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Ballet Form Explained: The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Proper Body Alignment

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Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve made it through another week and to another blog post! Today we are going to break down ballet form, alignment and dive into what every term means. I know you’ve heard it all before. Don’t sit in your hips, Make your neck longer, Elongate your quads and when all of these….things are being thrown at you, it can have you standing there like “Whhaaaa?? What does any of this mean and how do I do it?!” Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve elongated, and I’ve conquered! Was that too dramatic? Either way, today, we are about to take all the mystery out of ballet form. Ready? Let’s get started!

“Chin Up” – The way I mastered having my chin lifted to the ideal height is simply by taking the knuckle of index finger and ever so slightly lifting my chin upward. I’ve found that doing this allows you to have your chin at the perfect height to give you the appearance of confidence without being able to, you know, see up your nostrils while you dance!

“Shoulders Back” – One of the simpler elements of ballet alignment that can be achieved by simply rolling your shoulders back. The tricky part, however, is keeping your shoulders down since they can have the nasty habit of wanting to rise to your ears while you dance. So always keep that in mind.

“Elongate Your Neck” – Elongating your neck is achieved with the actions mentioned above, lifting your chin and rolling your shoulders back! Easy, peazy, right?

“Soft Hands” – My teachers at the studio I trained in growing up used to call stiff hands “Barbie hands”. What a funny title, right? Put your hand, sideways, in front of you, with all your fingers straight and stuck together. THAT is a Barbie hand. But to fix this, keep your hand in this position, take your middle finger out of the line of the rest of your fingers by sliding it forward and keep it straight. Next bring forward your thumb out of the line and bend it. VOILA! You just went from Malibu Barbie to Odette! (three cheers for Swan Lake references!)

“Close Your Ribs” – This was literally the hardest concept for me to grasp back in the day because all I could think to myself was, “How the heck do you do that?!” So, one day I asked my teacher for an explanation and she explained it by saying, “Imagine that there are shoe laces laced around your ribs. Now imagine taking your hands and pulling the strings outward to tighten the laces”. And though it sounds strange, it’s a great comparison. So even though you might look a little odd doing it, stand up straight, imagine shoe laces around your ribs, take your hands, “pull your strings” and tighten your core. You won’t have to use this method forever, but this is an excellent way to get to know what feeling you’re aiming for and it may feel super weird at first but that just means you did it right! After doing this, however, you may find yourself standing a little hunched over, but this can be fixed by simply standing up straight. Now you’re good to go!

“Don’t Sit in Your Hips” or “Pull Up” – Simply lift your mid-section up so that you’re standing tall. However, don’t arch you back. Keep everything nice and straight.

“Tuck Your Tailbone” – Pretty self-explanatory if you ask me!

“Lengthen Your Quads” – Even though this term uses the word “quads”, this is actually executed with the back of your legs; your hamstrings! Go into first position, simply press the backs of your legs together and there you have it! See, that wasn’t so bad, right?

Posture is the one of the biggest staples in ballet and as ballet dancers, it’s important that we understand everything about our craft. It’s a lot to remember, I know. But the longer you do it, the less you will have to think about. Soon it will become second nature and almost like breathing, sort to speak. I hope this was able to be a help to you today and I hope you join us again, right here, next Friday for a new post! Same time, same place!

Keep Dancing!
-Lexi

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