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The New York Ballet Institute Summer Intensive on Pinterest! Enrolling Now! Scholarships for Male Dancers!



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Sessions are July 1-31, 2015 and August 1-31, 2015. Check out the Pinterest photos of this fabulous International Vaganova Summer Intensive.

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If you would like to receive an application packet for The New York Ballet Institute Summer Intensive 2015, training information, scholarship assistance or general inquiry, please fill out the form above or contact them at nybisummer@gmail.com

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What would your dream ballet school consist of? Utopic?

Self expression, a dictionary, communication, ballet and any of the forms of art should not have a price tag associated with them; this keeps the poor down, and allows only the sublime communication of expression of emotions and feelings to the rich. When England is considering removing dance from community schools and centers, we should be thinking of it. It is akin to denying the Irish the right to learn their own language in school, it is the same as sending those exercising freedom of expression to Siberia, it is a critic burning all of the erotic notebooks of a great painter, it is denying cultural and spiritual freedom, which to an artist, or a person, it is worse than the loss of any particular religious freedom. It is taking away the art supplies of children in public schools, or musical instruments, denying some people the right to dance, or covering the beauty of a face. It is the loss of expression. It is criminal, because it is constraining and reducing the human need to express oneself effectively, experience joy, in whatever way we are gifted to do so or allowed to behold or hear. It reduces options and intellect, feeling and hope.

Irish Trinity knot in Co. Sligo, IRE (c.1980)

 

People should not be confined to trying to find the meaning of life via the computer; it’s not in there, anymore than it can always be found in public works. The country would be a better place if everyone were required to produce or reproduce one work of art per year. No rules, no rewards, but a plan to exhibit on certain days, plays, performances, screenings,  readings, exhibitions, concerts, and otherwise share these works instead of posting opinions on Facebook. Express something! Cook. Create. Do. Read. Dance. If everyone did that when they came home from work, Facebook might be a friendlier and more interesting site. I get almost nothing really original from Facebook, but I receive something and give something through art. Art is an exchange of value, not merely a means to only promote oneself, one’s studio, or groupthink, but an opportunity to actually stir someone’s emotions and speak to people on a non-verbal basis without regurgitating news, or risking people not appreciating what you have to say, or worse, rife with all the bias, negativity, exploitation of cruelty and sensationalism that ‘news’ has become. The artist does not, or should not, care about what people think, but should make them think, or entertain, or inspire. Sharing is optional, not mandatory.

Free to say on my blog what my ideal school for ballet would be like, I can just imagine it: Mine would exist in the near future, but encompass the ideals of the past. Real ‘classical ballet’ would be taught. If today’s modern attitudes (think Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’), were weighed, parent involvement would be discouraged-all parents. It would be free, of course, or only cost what one could afford to pay, and the word of the parents would be taken. There would be no long forms, embarrassment, or questions for the family or the child. Parents would be permitted to view the classes from high definition television screens by a feed in a comfortable public waiting room off-site, and my child would be welcome to have an adjustment period to see if the program suited her, and vice versa. No contact with parents would be allowed by teachers, staff, or others involved and there would be no opportunity for nepotism. No politics whatsoever. This would result in detachment. Parents would be encouraged to come to performances, and to allow their children an education free of stress and pressure. Students could go home any time they want to, for any period of time, no questions asked. Of course there would be some boundaries, and students would have to really want to be there. There would be total honesty and transparency in all things, however, with members of the collective, or public, ZERO profit motive, full benefits for all employees, full health services and dental, separate administrative offices and no principal or favoritism. Therefore, it would not be a business, an ego exalting enterprise, a proving ground, but rather a sort of collective, of the students and teachers with the purpose of improving minds and bodies altogether. There would be civility and proper ballet etiquette. It would be a place to become cultured, and exposed to not only the rudiments of ballet, taught absolutely correctly, but also the other arts, music, and academics, and employing a Platonic code, where ideas  are heard and discussed politely. There would be optional extra classes in history, humanities, science and math, and any other subject a student had a desire to learn more about. Someone would be willing to listen. Innovation would be the only rule to practice. Learning would be the key, knowledge the door. Language would be taught. A salon. Each student would have many varied performance opportunities. The purpose of the education would be for the express purpose of performance on the stage. Performance is not a life for everyone, but it is a necessary field, and therefore should be an option for anyone to pursue, not for merely a select few, and money should not be a factor or art and people will suffer.

Sir James Augustus Henry Murray (in the Scriptorium at Banbury Road) (7 February 1837 – 26 July 1915) was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist. He was the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his death.

In short, everyone would be happy and productive. There would be an emphasis on learning to love learning, and healthy competition would be encouraged. Everyone would get a chance to create, perform, and be involved in productions, theatre, music and choreography. There would be an in-house system of evaluation, levels, and only those who truly desired to leave would go. There would be something for everyone, including various companies, production experience, career guidance, and placement assistance at graduation. I think this could be guaranteed to dedicated and mature dancers who were prepared to pursue a career in ballet, and to those with this sort of education, a place could be found for them anywhere in the arts or higher education. Perhaps if such a school existed, other schools would see its benefits and follow its model. In communities where drugs and crime are a problem, this would be an ideal environment to provide a haven from the day-to-day misery of disadvantaged youth, but no one would be any different within its doors. Something to do, someplace to be creative, to learn free of obstacles, free from violence and peer pressure. Good food, great friends, good people.

 

This should not be denied to any children in the ballet world, but should be given to them, first. It sounds like any school, and it should be all schools, but I am thinking about ballet, performance specifically, and the creative spirit. If you treat children like they are worth something, they will be. If they cannot afford to pay for this opportunity, then the world is a place needing much improvement, for how we treat children mirrors ourselves and our future as a world, not just a country, a state, or a city. Tough luck, rejection and even poverty can be born if we believe we made the right decision and if we believe in ourselves. Children need to be the priority in investment. If we have a generation of vidiots, scared, and have instilled a sense of hopelessness in young adults, it is our own fault for putting war, oil, personal gain, desires and greed ahead of education and children. Too many children went through the cracks. We have failed them all and should work to improve their outlook. Some may never know anything better in life than this, but ballet is positively a cure for some people, and for many of humanity’s ills. It entertains, raises the spirit of man, and lofts or elevates thinking, makes dreams palpable. Unfettered, like an experiment, it is another path, and one possible choice, for a certain type of person, a type necessary to the continuation of art.

This methodology offers an injury-free, safe, inclusive environment for the teaching of art, not brain-washing, but freedom to think, to be. It is also a path to instill faith in oneself, confidence, and the self-belief to follow a path of one’s own design and choosing, based solely on one’s own initiative, respect and the free exchange of ideas conducive to the creation of all great art. Life should be lived for joy; where sadness, failure, and dissatisfaction are taught, little great art can flourish.

If a school could exist like this, it would begin to be built now, planned and designed, and it would house about 200 students. It might take a few years to facilitate, due to the course of existing funding channels, but it could be built, and it could follow all of these very simple precepts, eventually, and it would be successful in turning out correctly trained dancers, all vastly educated and accomplished. Each one would be unique in their development, and loved. Every year, each graduating class would spread this logic and the value would resonate, like a Picasso when you stand in front of it as so many of the thousands of silent viewers before you have done. It is like walking in the backyard of the childhood home of your favorite painter, on any given day, seeing the light as he saw it, shadows cast, the area and his possible perspective. There is a magic bullet for human-to-human understanding and communication and it is really evident in the proper study and process of all of the forms of art. Don’t believe a word of hype; it is very difficult to squash the human spirit.

Celebrity Invention: Bill Nye’s Ballet Slipper — The Atlantic


Celebrity Invention: Bill Nye’s Ballet Slipper — The Atlantic.

Guide to Ballet Training, Part 1 (for novices)



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Part I

I think useful information on ballet schools is a bit hard to find on the Internet. Information about the process, what to do, expect, avoid. It’s not truthful when you do find it. You just jump in. But there is a process if your child wants a career in dance. There are many factors, but if you are starting out as we did, there are some things you should know, and if you ever need someone to talk to, you can always ask me what to do. I’ll try to help. That may not be the best recommendation, as I am certainly no expert-no one can be-but at least I am not politicking for anyone. Yes, my daughter is in ballet. I think this is her sixth year, maybe going on seven, I may have lost track.

According to my teachers eleven was a fine age to start then (9 or 10 being the youngest to begin seriously), but you are always hearing professional dancers (and non) stating they started nearer their birth. In my opinion, it is wrong for dancers to tell other dancers that, because they should know better. I think the Russian methodology is the best, for one thing, most of their dancers can concede to the age of around 10, because that is the earliest those schools take them and they begin, seriously, to study ballet. You have to wonder about the truth of other statements when the serious study of anything cannot begin much earlier, and certainly not ballet. They do say, and correctly, too, that they studied or took other dancing, gymnastics, etc., and this is probably true, but even they know it is not like ballet and is different. It might have helped them, but they do not feel the need to relate that usually because the training at those schools is so formidable as to put into the shadows any previous lesser instruction. There is really no comparison. Why? This will become apparent in a later section of the article.

I think there is a truly correct and comprehensive method to the study of ballet. I am always searching for that in schools, teachers, pictures, videos, performances. It is what you have to learn to look at first. I do not think my daughter would have known, starting out, what was good for her, and I am aggressive about what I desire and look for in any educational situation which affects my children. I have 3, and I went to my first audition, with my son, at SAB, about twenty-one years ago. He was not accepted, but continued to dance in Russian schools in NY until he was about 12 years old. He lost interest in it and the outside pressures of being a boy in ballet just became too much for him. He did learn some things about ballet, and sitting down to watch a ballet performance now, brings all of that back to him. He has always been a dancer, though, and never shies from performing. He is a ham. I have followed ballet for about 40 years.

I know how to go about looking, though I was not a professional dancer, I danced, and the choices were easier when I was growing up, and I was lucky to get good instruction. I had opportunities to dance professionally, but I finally realized in college that I did not want to become a dancer exclusively. In all ways, that decision is very personal to the dancer. Proper instruction, correct instruction is probably the most important piece of the ballet, or dancing, puzzle. I do not know how I was so lucky to have had the teachers I did, when I did, and where I did. Part of the reason this occurred, because although my mother did not accompany me at all, she had schooled me in the basics of ballet and dance knowledge, cautioning me extensively, prior to my going out and signing up for classes and because she bought me books, or gave them to me, and I read them. I was not averse to reading or listening. She also researched and made suggestions where I could go, and I went there and she turned out, and they turned out, to be right for me. After that, I found things on my own. It is cyclical. Things change in ballet schools sometimes as often as they do in public schools, and programs-one year it is good, the next, not so. It depends on who is teaching there at the time, the program, mission or philosophy, and some other factors. More variables affect parent and student over time, but initially, it should not be too difficult to find good training, despite the vast differences between schools. I think this constant “polishing” of the process, program, and elevator effect does not benefit every generation or level of dancers at the same school, for usually, in this country, in most cities and towns, there is nowhere to go for top ballet training you find. The problem is continuity, but it is also cost, change, greed, and outside influences. But when it gets to a point, you have to take it into your own hands and find what you are looking for-what your child needs.

You can go to the horse’s mouth in New York City, but what if you are not accepted at ABT or SAB? Well, because it is New York City, there are other good teachers and schools to go to. It is an international and cosmopolitan city and there is no dearth of dancers there.You can also find good ballet teachers in other places, but it is a crapshoot sometimes. You do not necessarily know. They can be in the strangest and most unlikely places, or they can be right around the corner-for the time being, anyway. That is why I look for Russian now. It is just so much easier. I do not have to look at French, American, or British systems, because my daughter now makes the decision on where she wants to study and what. As a parent, Russian just makes more sense, because Russia has a system of ballet training- the Vaganova method. It focuses on correct placement, the correct technique and levels, but most importantly, probably, to me, as a parent, it also is designed to reduce the possibility of injury in what is a very difficult art. I said art. Not sport. It is not athletic. It is discipline. It is part science of movement, part muscle training and part art, then mostly art.

Some parents do not always care about injury enough. Some parents do not realize the risk of injury. Some parents will not accept that their child might not have the facility required for the correct and plausible performance of ballet, or have children who have not had good training or training in time. Some parents were dancers and know exactly what to do! I think a lot of Russians have come to the U.S. and other places to teach ballet in the Vaganova style and for whatever reasons, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn ballet with them as they truly know more about it, are passionate about training, and knowledgeable. They have to start somewhere, and sometimes their options are not always the options extended to those teachers at the actual Vaganova schools where the children are handpicked, out of hundreds or thousands, for the opportunity to study ballet at a state funded school. Here, we bring our (often) faulty children, without any gymnastics, bad feet, poor attitude, inflexible backs or legs, poor posture, and even more frequently, our money, to ballet schools, without having had even a physical, or x-rays, to determine their capability for such a regimen, and demand them to make stars out of them. This is NOT how it is in Europe, and worse we bring our sense of  entitlement.

In America, it is about the students you get whose parents can afford (or not) ballet training, the mentality is different, and until recently, due to so much promotion, and competitions, such as YAGP, ballet was not in the headlines. Only by promoting it, has it become more popular, for boys and for girls, or considered a career option. Respectable. A sport (to make it acceptable to some Americans). And a sense of it being far less demanding, complicated and fickle, than it really is. In America, until people become more aware of its difficult requirements, many people will continue to frown upon it, as they are basically uncultured and working-class people, who have considered for several decades, ballet as a starving art form, or dance as being “gay,” or not an intellectual pursuit, nor as having the prospect of wealth. In some cases, it is a middle class parent who aspires to have their child succeed as a team dancer, or competition dancer, who enrolls their child in ballet, gymnastics, and theatre, modelling, etc., and for ballet, this focus is not correct. It is not a good formula, not one based on knowledge of the art of ballet, what is required, the prospects, but only the early physical success and a trophy as proof. A ballet dancer’s career spans a lot longer time than most professional athletes, actually, and unlike sports, but as in theatre, maturity is required, and artistry. Artistry is not acquired in early stages of youth, such as the understanding of the emotions and stories involved in some mature ballets, or the sense of freedom required, by many years of practice, to express oneself uniquely in performance of mature subject matter, and to do so fluidly. It is this part of ballet, I believe, where most dancers with physical potential actually fail in ballet. They are not artists and perhaps never will be.

Ballet is competitive, but first it is discipline. As it was designed, it was discipline for the longest time and then possibly, much later, some success might be possible. Maybe. It is easy to forget, in the little ballet studio, that there are a world of other dancers out there, and that they might have several distinct advantages over Americans, in general. Training is number one. Ballet, of course, had its starting point, too, like all dancers, but then a Golden Age (occurring almost 200 years later), and more structure (another 100 years), then becoming almost scientific (50 years), and again a resurgence (50 years), again (20 years) and again now (20 years). There is a phenomenal (and interesting) history to the art of ballet, but it was never Shun Yen, or gymnastics, or jazz, or a sport- at anytime in its development. It never should be or will be really viewed as an art and a sport, or it will truly cease to be ballet. The movement to even discuss this is one to capitalize on the financial opportunities and promotion of it as a commodity and everyone seems to getting into that game, but the step to make it an Olympic sport, like discus throwing is absurd.  This might improve everyone’s physical health, increase advertising demand, create paycaps for “artists” or make it acceptable overall to men, and others, but it will do absolutely nothing for the art of ballet. Ballet like that is without art. It is without stories, music, entrepreneurs, shows,E and in that arena, no true art is possible. Just gladiators and lions.

Everybody dances (if you go to New York), but in many places in between the coastal cities, the only dancing done is at weddings or a folk ensemble at school, or not at all, depending on your sex, religion, persuasion and coolness factor. It was not until I went to New York, in college, that I had occasion to go to clubs in the city where all the men (almost) got up and danced. Where I grew up, all of the above applied. The only professional or aspiring dancers you saw were in local companies or at weddings. It was a physical impairment of men, that they “could not dance,” would claim they “had no rhythm,” and no one made an effort to persuade them. NO one challenged any of these false hoods. Even now, it is extreme to label a child as “trans” when it is normal to go through questions of individual sexuality. Dancing has nothing to do with that, except it is still seen, in the US, and other places, to be largely “feminine” to express oneself, and there is still a morbid (private) fear, in this country at least, to be considered feminine, or unmanly, in any regard, with young men. So ballet will probably always suffer due to the few boys who manage to find their way into it. It is no less athletic for girls, but in ballet, boys can excel more obviously in many areas where other boys, outside of ballet, just do not and cannot ever hope to reap the benefits from. So in one sense, I see a practicality of noting that ballet is the most athletic, and totally physically demanding of any physical activity they can do, in a sense. Only to encourage boys to try it because there are a lot of really bad male dancers out there, and people are always saying they are “really good” and they are not, and I think this leads to resentment by some females, who are, much better, really, and have to work much harder to get noticed. They have to be perfect, but a boy can definitely “have a career” if he is mediocre. A girl has to be beyond perfect.

In my time, or slightly before it, one dancer, Jaques D’Amboise, made the attempt, and temporarily succeeded, in making ballet a course option in New York City public schools, but that was not successful, unfortunately. He started a foundation, however, to educate inner-city (and all) children and their parents, the public, and everyone else, about how positively dance had helped him off the streets, gave him options to pursue a career in ballet, and the theatre, and how he learned to dance. He has tried, chiefly, all of his life, to share that information and knowledge about dance, and he has been somewhat successful in spreading the word, but mostly he has been successful at providing an afterschool environment that gives children the chance to try dance and to see if they like it. That’s all you can do. If they are successful, he helps them pursue it further. Lost momentum. NO. It was the beginning of change, which takes time. He is correct in all that he says about dance, and for this reason, if no other, dance should be available to study to anyone who wants to pursue it, free of charge, just like sports in most schools, but it is not.

In most countries, there is the respect for ballet that there is in Russia, and not just ballet, but arts. There is great funding to the arts in other countries, but as in so many other ways, we are behind in many of these areas. They are just more cultured and differently structured. Most foreign countries at were once aristocratic political systems. As such, the monarchies investiture in the arts, or their countries people, was to educate and make available to them entertainment, education and culture that otherwise they would not have the ability to underwrite-in fact his was one of the very large platforms of government, besides, security. It is a matter now of patriotism and history, especially as it relates to countries which had a formidable part in the creation or perpetuation of ballet. it is part of their iconoclasty-they cannot give it up, or be seen to, as people then say, “Why do we continue to have a monarchy?” And there is also a gradual uncovering of that, or change, such as in Russia, where the ballet has increasingly, or at least more purposefully, taken the backing of the highest bidder. But as a result of it having being made available to everyone, at least in the past, or the effort to continue its conference, everyone there at least understands its importance, artistic significance, or has some underlying understanding of it and accepts it, etc…and many more people pursue culture, are actually cultured, attend shows and are involved in the making of art on many different levels, not for the money, but for the art. It is seen as part of a good education, education at all and is underwritten or subsidized. It is getting increasingly harder for those countries to even afford to keep ballet companies together in this economy.

In this country, frequently, it is the private contributions which make the performance of it or viewing of it possible to people without a lot of money, and it is nearly always a political nightmare to get funding or to make new art. The states do not support artists, art or the training up of artists. I think one of the reasons we have government is to decide what is good for everyone and necessary and if art is not, then very little else matters. Art is like the hyacinth for the soul. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and philistines. How can the parents of these people know where to take their child for ballet, when in today’s culture, what they want is a cheap afterschool program for its babysitting possibilities. It does not mean that if the child is exposed to dance, somehow, that they will not become enamored with it. Most likely they would respond to some form of art, and along with humanities, reading, other forms of culture, such as the making of other kinds of art, this exposure cause us to search within ourselves for deeper feelings and emotions, answers and humanity. These are requirements for people, and in art, all of the shared commonalities of people exist. It is a higher plane of functioning, not on an intellectual level, but on an emotional and expressive one. That is why, in our country, these independently run ballet schools are so very important. All together, whether they act accordingly, they are responsible for the education of our children, edifying them about the importance of art in society and life. They do a big part of the job with no subsidies, no review boards, networks, administration, doctors, child psychologists, theatres, funding or even newspapers or promotion. With no one willing to champion them. Some of them are frauds, some of them provide healthful physical activity and a needed outlet in a community, and some of them provide a basis from which to pursue art, but we cannot make those schools Sports Authorities in an effort to create a funding tunnel, because in the history of ballet, when the technique and art suffers, the ballet loses historical importance, great artists, and attendees. People come to expect more in viewing ballet-more acrobatics, more violence, more intensity, more stimuli, and this is not art.

But most of all, you take your daughters or sons to ballet to learn character, discipline, and whether you know it or not, etiquette, respect, music, following directions, beauty, grace, strength, work ethic, survival, and working as a group. Many of the same things you learn in karate or sports, school or church, theatre or art, you learn in ballet. It is important to know why you take them, to know what they need to learn, and when, and most importantly, it is important to know whom is doing the teaching, and if you do not know that you do not really know anything at all. I have heard of more than one famous dancer who was taken to ballet to use muscles after a debilitating illness or injury, and who became devotee. A brother who accompanied sisters, a YMCA after school programmer who got the bug, the late starter, the street dancer or troubled youth, and most times the student of the little local school whom has been accepted to a top program (frequently in another country) which ought to , in itself, exhibit the problem in a nutshell. It offers something you do not find in any other place. I do not mean teamwork or competitions, or glamour. In fact, ballet is not glamorous at all, particularly, unless you consider a sweaty, calloused, haggard, starving, and beat-up artist, glamorous. I feel it is mostly a discipline, first, and an art second, and possibly a profession, and somewhat glamorous, third. In the end, no one will probably remember you and most likely you will not ever be a household name, unless you are on Instagram, or model, are self-promoting, and then you are not really a dancer, are you?

Not all dancers become artists, but all dancers become more disciplined, somewhat. I think this depends largely on the training because part of it is ballet etiquette and philosophy, part of it is physiology, and another part is perseverance, determination, hunger, hard work, reaching the sublime art of ballet and mastering that, and it continually learning, working and training. It just never stops. It is frought with injury, if you start out wrong, and just gets worse as you try to correct those things that should have been nipped in the bud, all the time with the studio turning a blind eye and just continuing to take money, pushing and over training at a very early age. It starts out as non-competitive, though in many countries, I could not say that, because there, they expect it to lead to greatness, or not. But again, they have a system and if you are accepted into it, there are reasons that you were, and according to them you have the facility for ballet, and then they provide the training. As you get older, it is much harder to get a consensus, and in some ways, to professionals, more obvious to see who is possibly talented and who is not. Competitions, in a way, make this worse.

But no matter when you come away from ballet, as an aspiring professional or not, you keep what you learned for the rest of your life, whether you continue to dance or not. You will always be a dancer. If you have been dancing for at least a few years, you are already a dancer, no matter whether you are famous or not, and more and more people pursue dance, or parts of it, for exercise, and movement, as adults and as non-dancers, than before and in some ways this is good, some ways not so good, or misleading. Perhaps this is okay if you understand what it is not, but it also takes away from the whole purpose of ballet training, if only part of the form of it is followed, or part of the technique, such as in Barre classes is done (badly), but it is not proper ballet training, is bound to cause injury through repetition, so it is ballet, but without any or all of the safeguards involved, without experienced or knowledgeable teachers, taught en masse, like gym class. That is not ballet. NOT ballet. NOT BALLET. Why not go to one of the MANY adult ballet classes offered at studios for that purpose. There is nothing wrong with barre exercises, but it is a component of other parts which are important. It is dangerous to give it credence, even a foothold in the world of a fitness craze mentality. These people will have children and will say, “I know something”-a little knowledge is sometimes very dangerous.

I do not believe that doing barre makes you a dancer and to an actual ballet dancer it is hard to separate it, explain it, impossible to rationalize, or to even acknowledge it at all because it should go against everything they have ever learned or will learn. Ballet dancers are snobs, sometimes. This is good and part of ballet, but it is also a discredit to the world of people who could be supportive of ballet and whom for that very reason sometimes, are not. Ballet should be for everyone, to a point. These types of activities also send the false message to average people, “You, too, can look like a ballet dancer, have a “ballet” body, be a part of that, do pointe, etc.,” and they are selling an image, a club, as false a claim as any claim could be, marketed as a sport, unintentionally or not, and untruthfully, that barre makes you as good as a dancer, and worse that anyone can dance, any part of dance, and that they will be accepted (eventually) into a dance class and be able to do all of the movements required. I do not have a problem with saying “they can obtain a good body,” but I do have a problem with them saying “a ballet body.” They are just exploiting the word “ballet.”

In that sense, dance training needs to be begun properly, with the correct outlook and perspective. This is really true no matter the age it is started. Often students who have “danced” for many years find they are not right for ballet or not accepted into a serious ballet training environment or company. This happens for a few reasons. 1) The training for ballet has not been correct or prolonged 2) Other training has taken place which you cannot easily get rid of the effects or muscle memory of, without great effort, and 3) great effort is required for serious study of ballet, focus, observations and correction, over time, 4) Enough money is not available, and 5) Companies have many dancers applying and they can only take one, or a few. But, with that goal in mind, if that is the plan, private or not, it cannot be accomplished any other way than as above stated, for only then will you even be in the running, and very few people will succeed among the very best. Only a literal few have come from other backgrounds entirely and been successful in ballet. In that sense, alone, it is viewed as an art. If you cannot get past the guardians-you cannot get past them. So, what, at a local school, or primary school do you need to look for so as not to further reduce your chances? Good teachers and guardians, or choreographers.

End of Part 1

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?


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We do not see ourselves as others see us, do we? Sometimes we form a somewhat higher opinion of ourselves than is warranted in some areas, and at other times we see ourselves as having all of the possible faults, and none of the attributes-sometimes we are very hard on ourselves, and do not let ourselves shine through. We stifle ourselves, for lack of a better word. We look, but we fail to SEE. Seeing really is an ART. We can emerge, like a butterfly, from a cocoon, or possibly, we feel we could fail to metamorphosis into a butterfly? NO, we all morph into butterflies.

But, at this stage of growing up, it is important to pat ourselves on the back for jobs well done and realize that all of those jobs cannot lie on the same plane, some things have to give, to make room for the important ones. One cannot take every little thing so seriously and sometimes when you realize this and stop beating yourself over the head for it, things fall into place [

Falling in Place

AH, EXCELLENT book]

as they should  and you can just coast along, enjoying the ride for a change. It is about enjoying life, one day at a time.

You know you have to jump off, but you can become (almost) entirely relaxed about the point at which you need to jump. You can pause TIME. Use time more efficiently, when you do not worry-practice deliberately not worrying-and then you can become expert at it, like the dancer who can complete 64 beats of the feet in the air before landing-not recorded since Nijinsky, but absolutely possible to DO! Like taking your hat off when the string breaks and setting it down, with composure, dancing on, as if that were your intention all along. And eventually, it just happens, you realize there are at least two of you in there, one who knows what to do when the other has %^&*(up. You then jump as fast and as hard as you can, while you can, because you can, and you LIKE IT! LOVE IT! Bask in that power.

Appreciate every moment, but then lie down. Look up at the trees with the sun shining through them and watch the wind gently moving their boughs, rustling their leaves, do an encore. Take your bow. You deserve it. And wait for your next chance! But there have to be those moments when you enjoy the fruits of your labor, when you stop worrying about the future so much and enjoy the present. That present is NOW-in case you hadn’t noticed. Don’t apologize for being you. Be you. Make that a you you like to be though. That elephant up there loves himself. You can tell. He just does and I bet he doesn’t even think that he is an elephant!

It is necessary as a young person to pass through this phase, because it allows us to make all of these glorious mistakes, waste all of this (valuable) time feeling all kinds of feelings, sometimes losing the sense of the present, and the joy in it, with our faces pressed to the glass, and we emerge a swan ourselves in spite of all of our efforts to thwart the process! But do not let some adult like me tell you not to have and enjoy all of those feelings, too. They are yours. What would happen if we went along with the process? Did not rebel? Would we achieve more, watch time passing, be more aware of what is happening around us. Doubtful-it wouldn’t be life and adolescence and youth any other way. Is it like a sixth sense? Kind of. Knowing those who have all gone before us as we continue to go.

The process is important in all phases and one should relish those opportunities for change and excitement and new things. For knowledge. New insights will come at every turn, so turns and twists are very important. Without them, no change, no excitement, no epiphanies can occur. Motion makes change and action makes motion. It is the unstable part of youth where we begin to fear the possibility of the future passing us by-don’t let it-not-a-second! Think of all of the other possibilities! For 20 years later, those of us who do not fully live, regret what we did not do, will have unfulfilled expectations. We will remember when we could have amounted to so much, done so much, if only we had given it out all when we had all to give…..and that fear, for it is the only valid one, somehow gives us the momentum, if not the incentive, we need to move ahead, for surely nothing happens if we sit still-time passes us by as we feared.

(It is short and meant to be read out loud, spoken to hear the rhythm)

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam



  Edward FitzGerald's Translation (1889).

			1

	Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
	Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
	And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
	The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

			2

	Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
	I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
	"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
	"Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

			3

	And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
	The Tavern shouted--"Open then the Door!
	"You know how little while we have to stay,
	"And, once departed, may return no more."

			4

	Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
	The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
	Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
	Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

			*****

			5

	Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
	And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
	But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
	And still a Garden by the Water blows.

			6

	And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
	High piping Pehlevi, with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
	"Red Wine!"---the Nightingale cries to the Rose
	That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine.

			7

	Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
	The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
	The Bird of Time has but a little way
	To fly---and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

			8

	And look---a thousand Blossoms with the Day
	Woke---and a thousand scatter'd into Clay:
	And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
	Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.

			*****

			9

	But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
	Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot!
	Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
	Or Hatim Tai cry Supper---heed them not.

			10

	With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
	That just divides the desert from the sown,
	Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
	And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.
			11

	Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
	A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse---and Thou
	Beside me singing in the Wilderness---
	And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

			12

	"How sweet is mortal Sovranty!"---think some:
	Others---"How blest the Paradise to come!"
	Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;
	Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

			*****

			13

	Look to the Rose that blows about us---"Lo,
	"Laughing," she says, "into the World I blow:
	"At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
	"Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw."

			14

	The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
	Turns Ashes---or it prospers; and anon,
	Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
	Lighting a little Hour or two---is gone.

			15

	And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
	And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
	Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
	As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

			16

	Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
	Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
	How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
	Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

			*****

			17

	They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
	The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep;
	And Bahram, that great Hunter---the Wild Ass
	Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

			18

	I sometimes think that never so red
	The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
	That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
	Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

			19

	And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
	Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean---
	Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
	From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

			20

	Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
	TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears---
	To-morrow?---Why, To-morrow I may be
	Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

			*****

			21

	Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and best
	That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
	Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
	And one by one crept silently to Rest.

			22

	And we, that now make merry in the Room
	They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,
	Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
	Descend, ourselves to make a Couch---for whom?

			23

	Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
	Before we too into the Dust descend;
	Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
	Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and---sans End!
			24

	Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare,
	And those that after a TO-MORROW stare,
	A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
	"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!"

			*****

			25

	Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
	Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
	Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
	Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

			26

	Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
	To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
	One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
	The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

			27

	Myself when young did eagerly frequent
	Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
	About it and about: but evermore
	Came out by the same Door as in I went.
			28

	With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
	And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
	And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd---
	"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

			*****

			29

	Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
	Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
	And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
	I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

			30

	What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
	And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
	Another and another Cup to drown
	The Memory of this Impertinence!

			31

	Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
	I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
	And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
	But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

			32

	There was a Door to which I found no Key:
	There was a Veil past which I could not see:
	Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
	There seemed---and then no more of THEE and ME.

			*****

			33

	Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried,
	Asking, "What Lamp had Destiny to guide
	"Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?"
	And---"A blind Understanding!" Heav'n replied.

			34

	Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
	My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
	And Lip to Lip it murmur'd---"While you live
	"Drink!---for once dead you never shall return."

			35

	I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
	Articulation answer'd, once did live,
	And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
	How many Kisses might it take---and give!

			36

	For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,
	I watch'd the Potter thumping his wet Clay:
	And with its all obliterated Tongue
	It murmur'd---"Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

			*****

			37

	Ah, fill the Cup:---what boots it to repeat
	How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
	Unborn TO-MORROW, and dead YESTERDAY,
	Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!

			38

	One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
	One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste---
	The Stars are setting and the Caravan
	Starts for the Dawn of Nothing---Oh, make haste!

			39

	How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
	Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
	Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
	Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

			40

	You know, my Friends, how long since in my House
	For a new Marriage I did make Carouse:
	Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
	And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

			*****

			41

	For "IS" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line,
	And "UP-AND-DOWN" without, I could define,
	I yet in all I only cared to know,
	Was never deep in anything but---Wine.

			42

	And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
	Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape
	Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
	He bid me taste of it; and 'twas---the Grape!

			43

	The Grape that can with Logic absolute
	The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
	The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
	Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

			44

	The mighty Mahmud, the victorious Lord,
	That all the misbelieving and black Horde
	Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
	Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

			*****

			45

	But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
	The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
	And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
	Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

			46

	For in and out, above, about, below,
	'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
	Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
	Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

			47

	And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
	End in the Nothing all Things end in ---Yes---
	Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
	Thou shalt be---Nothing---Thou shalt not be less.

			48

	While the Rose blows along the River Brink,
	With old Khayyam the Ruby Vintage drink:
	And when the Angel with his darker Draught
	Draws up to Thee---take that, and do not shrink.

			*****

			49

	'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
	Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
	Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
	And one by one back in the Closet lays.

			50

	The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,
	But Right or Left, as strikes the Player goes;
	And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,
	*He* knows about it all---He knows---HE knows!

			51

	The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
	Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
	Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
	Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

			52

	And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
	Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
	Lift not thy hands to *It* for help---for It
	Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

			*****

			53

	With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
	And then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
	Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
	What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

			54

	I tell Thee this---When, starting from the Goal,
	Over the shoulders of the flaming Foal
	Of Heav'n Parvin and Mushtara they flung,
	In my predestin'd Plot of Dust and Soul

			55

	The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about
	If clings my Being---let the Sufi flout;
	Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,
	That shall unlock the Door he howls without

			56

	And this I know: whether the one True Light,
	Kindle to Love, or Wrathconsume me quite,
	One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caught
	Better than in the Temple lost outright.

			*****

			57

	Oh, Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
	Beset the Road I was to wander in,
	Thou wilt not with Predestination round
	Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

			58

	Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
	And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
	For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
	Is blacken'd, Man's Forgiveness give---and take!

		KUZA-NAMA ("Book of Pots.")

			59

	Listen again. One Evening at the Close
	Of Ramazan, ere the better Moon arose,
	In that old Potter's Shop I stood alone
	With the clay Population round in Rows.

			60

	And, strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
	Some could articulate, while others not:
	And suddenly one more impatient cried---
	"Who *is* the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"

			*****

			61

	Then said another---"Surely not in vain
	"My Substance from the common Earth was ta'en,
	"That He who subtly wrought me into Shape
	"Should stamp me back to common Earth again."

			62

	Another said---"Why, ne'er a peevish Boy,
	"Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;
	"Shall He that *made* the Vessel in pure Love
	"And Fancy, in an after Rage destroy!"

			63

	None answer'd this; but after Silence spake
	A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:
	"They sneer at me for learning all awry;
	"What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

			64

	Said one---"Folk of a surly Tapster tell
	"And daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell;
	"They talk of some strict Testing of us---Pish!
	"He's a Good Fellow, and 't will all be well."

			*****

			65

	Then said another with a long-drawn Sigh,
	"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry:
	"But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,
	"Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

			66

	So while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
	One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:
	And then they jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!
	"Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!"

			67

	Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
	And wash my Body whence the Life has died,
	And in the Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,
	So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.

			68

	That ev'n my buried Ashes such a Snare
	Of Perfume shall fling up into the Air,
	As not a True Believer passing by
	But shall be overtaken unaware.

			*****

			69

	Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
	Have done my Credit in Men's Eye much wrong:
	Have drown'd my Honour in a shallow Cup,
	And sold my Reputation for a Song.

			70

	Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
	I swore---but was I sober when I swore?
	And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
	My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

			71

	And much as Wine has play'd the Infidel
	And robb'd me of my Robe of Honour---well,
	I often wonder what the Vintners buy
	One half so precious as the Goods they sell.

			72

	Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
	That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
	The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
	Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

			*****

			73

	Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
	To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
	Would not we shatter it to bits---and then
	Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

			74

	Ah, Moon of my Delight who Know'st no wane
	The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
	How oft hereafter rising shall she look
	Through this same Garden after me---in vain!

			75

	And when Thyself with shining Foot shall pass
	Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass,
	And in thy joyous Errand reach the Spot
	Where I made one---turn down an empty Glass!

		TAMAM SHUD (It is completed.)

			*****


Self loathing passes, too, many of the doubts, and all the uncomfortableness of the onset of maturity, with the acceptance of ourselves, but not complacency (!). We need to kick if only to make sure we still can. This process takes time and energy itself, and if we can just keep busy, active, focus our energies into the positive, second by second, minute by minute, day by day, we pass through it, and it cannot depress/suppress us so much if we use some of the indomitable will we possess innately, to repress IT, to conquer IT, and our own self-doubts. It is important however, now, to keep moving, to keep busy, and to keep dancing, pressing on, because we must go through the whole inevitable period of self-examination, self-prejudice and fault-finding in order to come through it a learned person, knowing the most about ourselves (whom we should know), a stronger person and one more grounded in who we really are and what we can really accomplish if we put our mind to it, and to finally realize that after our heartbreaks and changes, we are complex and fascinating and beautiful people, and not a shell, like the ones held up in photographs and poses, not fake and pasty pearls,, made shiny for the instant, but sea-hewn and rock hard, with mirrored finish and indomitable strength-the challenge is to be a better, stronger person and to emerge loving our faults, embracing them, and liking ourselves better for them, for they are actually our strengths-sometimes it is slow going, just a little of ourselves better each day, like washing an arm or the neck, with love, a little bit better every time, and a little more, if not love, then respect and awe, because we alone did it-made it through. It is us.

Our perseverance teaches us that we were better than we thought we were, and that there IS improvement in the way we see ourselves. Self-loving, self respecting and generous in our accomplishments to ourselves. Thankful. It requires bigger thinking. Huge thinking. And yet simple logic-a stronger brain. Some can articulate and some do not.

More importantly, we will emerge from this journey to find that we are still in the running-the race is not run, there is still time and even more importantly, more and better races, to be proud of not only how much we have accomplished, but realize we do possess that extra bit of mettle necessary to make it through the fire and survive and go again. All of this is coming, the hard part is looking it in the eye and moving forward with the courage and conviction necessary to achieve even half of what we set out to do, first we leave the gate, and then finishing up the rest of it like dessert because we finally realize we do have room and the ability! Then we look back and go, “Wow. What if I had stopped? It is about hanging on, baby. It is about the survival of the fittest, not just being super flexible and posing. It is about dancing and spirit and tenacity. A dancer is not born, a dancer is made. It is about hard work, now more than ever! It is about love, too.

I guess I was told in my twenties by my then husband, that my body changed (all the time). I couldn’t see it. I was a little vexed with him. But he was honest, though I did not (want) to realize it at the time. Sometimes I dieted, but usually I didn’t have to=the less I got on the scale or thought about it, the less I ate. Before I knew it, I was slim again. Svelte. Once told no one rocked the little black dress better! I didn’t think that day would come, but it was true. I just had not seen it all along. What a waste! Worrying about anything, never made it happen, or unhappen, but it took experience even to know that. Discipline is a part of it, but like other areas of life, you have to find solutions that work for you, aren’t really sacrifices, and it takes a while to prefer the taste of some foods over seemingly better-tasting ones. You can choose healthy and still taste good! If weird things aren’t your bag, by all means don’t eat things you don’t like. People were eating healthily before Whole Foods! Diets also aren’t meant to be permanent=that’s why you start eating better and you just learn to eat better forever. But in our teens, some people develop weird eating disorders and issues because of fad diets, body image issues, peer pressure, media, and the rest-sometimes their parents foist those problems upon them, because they want to create phobias like “your teeth will fall out!”, “you will put your eye out with that!”, “you do not want to be FAT!”. But there is fact and fiction. Nature guides us, too. That is why it is important to eat what you like, and use moderation in all things.

Teenagers do not see the rest of their lives, they only see the right now this minute and it is because of this that they are vulnerable to all sorts of things. When we realize there is a tomorrow and another slice of pizza or a bagel in the FUTURE, we do not look at the one today as if it is going to be the last one EVER! Trust me, at forty I was sick of Chicken, Beef, and Pork so Fish became much more appealing, and other options sprung up! Vegetables and other foods became interesting and playful until I was not eating very much neat all of a sudden, only sporadically. Nature must have intended it that way. Having worked in a bakery, I can say honestly that I hate baked goods! I had my fill of Napoleans, Cannoli, cakes and pies-For the most part food is ever plentiful and ever available. A cornucopia awaits, never empty! I completely gave up fad diets when I realized that I could honestly eat a favorite food once a day for the rest of my life and it would always be different, never ending, and the thought kind of bored me, like ohhh….kind of like the number of restaurants in New York-you can go to a different one three times per day, and STILL never try all of them in your whole life.

The key is to see if we want it as badly in 5 minutes or this evening, tomorrow, or on Saturdays or Sundays, teaching restraint and perspective. Mostly perspective. That way, by 6pm, tomorrow or Sunday, something nearly always looks better, and we begin to see how whimsical our choices are on the spur of the moment. When we are craving something, and fail to see how recent exercise or physical need might be the culprit-that our bodies crave certain foods, at certain times, and why. Unfortunately, I do not know a good book on this subject, but I do know of a writer who deals with it in dancers specifically. I have posted several articles by her from her blog. She is full of good advice and offers recipes and facts on food. But the information is everywhere and in our brains there is common sense. You have to eat right. Live right. Eat a wide variety-variety is the spice of life! Take care in preparing your food, eating your food and enjoying your food. Sit and eat. Don’t run and eat for then you just feel hungry and as though you haven’t eaten at all. Mealtime should be a ritual. A time to sit and relax, and eat enough. Don’t overeat. Don’t try not to eat, rather eat something good and juicy, healthy, enriching, flavorful, whatever. Eat less, but eat more! Enjoy food. It nourishes you!

We all prefer to see ourselves as we once were, whether that was a nubile young thing, a mature teenager, “in my twenties”, “before I was married,” and it goes on, so that by the time we are 51 or 94 we are able to (at least) pick and choose which body we want to be, which period we most liked and ALL of them have reasons to be liked, eventually. But we are much more than a body. I would much rather be someone, if I could, and not just her body! We just have to be mature enough it seems to finally LIKE all of them that we are, that we have been. And you will. In time. For me, it did happen young, it has happened, and now I am perhaps too comfortable with myself….Sometimes I wish I could just pick any one of those former selves and be that for a night out, a day in class, at the beach, in my paddling pool, again. But I realize I am all of those, too, and much more. I am a complete package and to extract one of those different bodies is impossible, because a human is an organism and changing all the time. Those images are literally in our mind like a snapshot in time. Our image of ourselves might be static, but we are never just as we remembered anyway. We are live actions figures and not dolls!

We really were different and changing all the time, like the sea. As women, we change daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and as different systems in our bodies take over, work on their own for different reasons, from birth through life, such as when we bring a life into the world, and as we get older, we change sometimes drastically. Would we deny our baby’s good health by fretting too much over our own self-image during gestation? Cheat the wisdom of old age? No, it would spoil the emotional moment of our lives, and risk our baby’s health. Why would we treat ourselves differently? Risk our own health? Worse?

We don’t want to interfere or to control that body too much until we are perfectly comfortable with its ebbs and flows. It can take care of itself. We just have to learn what those are. They have a rhythm too. We just have to love it and deal with it. Some cultures celebrate all those changes! Some people never learn acceptance of themselves. They do not realize these things. They do not love themselves-it isn’t the food. Their behavior is boring and repetitive and predictable. I cannot imagine thinking about it all of the time, worrying about it all of the time, wasting time feeling bad with what-ifs and denying myself things I like-in moderation.

Sometimes it takes less time to control radical changes, other times , sometimes more, but I wish I had known then what I know now-that at least is unanimous among people. In the case of adolescence, people make it through. I remember looking in the mirror in a store changing room after my first child and going, “What the???” Even that changed and healed. Passed. A few years later, back into my stride, someone commented about how (based upon my appearance) it really was true that dancer’s bodies just sprang back, at how amazing my physique was, but I saw all my faults-or were they? It was at that point that I began to think differently, realizing I was good. Okay. Better even. Like scars, maybe our faults or perceived flaws, give us a kind of character, a chance to build on them, to strengthen, to love, they are a marker of where we have been even, cliche, but true. Unavoidable and part of life, so why fret life? But, so do all of those mental phases  and other memories, which become associated with times of our lives and are woven into the fabric of US, who we become, and cannot be separated. Don’t get lint in your warp! So make the most of them, enjoy what you can, and take time to smell the flowers. Make good memories, too. Eat what you want. My mother was good at telling me not to worry. She said I did not have to worry about getting fat. She was right. At my age it is when I look into the mirror to make a physical assessment, it is not like it used to be and yet, I am surprised that I do not look as bad as I feel. Sometimes I check and make myself laugh-I am still there, I am still me. Thank GOD. There was a time when I would not always like what I saw, I was too critical. I just didn’t see me! Now I do, and I am happy to greet ME!

I see the chubby girls with glowing skin, beautiful eyes, buxom beauties, so to speak, I see the slender girls with knowledge that they meet a certain body type, and I see natural beauty in all sorts of people, and less beauty in that which is continually thrust before me in media etc. I remember once closeted in an elevator in college with a bohemian film type and he prefessed his deep regard fo me and my Rubenesque (Rubens was a painter of scantily-clad and fleshy nymphs) figure. I was not Rubenesque, but even if I was to him, I was loved! I was appalled and fairly ran from the elevator. I see the marketing industry changing and attempting to glamorize fat, and obesity in order to market fashion for it. So the focus on weight has shifted from one end of the spectrum, to try to capitalize on people being fat, in other ways, and I do not mean weight loss centers-I mean fashion and money. Keeping them fat is big business nowadays. They even try to market fat food to fat people!

I do think people need to be disciplined and eat what they need and not waste the food on the planet. I think fat is fat, and if you love a person you want them to be healthy, not fat. If someone you love gets fat, would you leave them? But that goes to values and people. We should love people not ideals. But when someone is perfectly healthy and not fat, and is just seeing fat which is not there, which is their beautiful body and that person is not fat, I am concerned with what that person is worrying about and why they think they are fat. Obesity is a health issue. Dancers are healthy….

I would tell someone they do not look fat, I would not judge, I would say, “you look fine.” I tell anyone the truth who asks. Eat right. You are healthy. You’re you. What are you worried about. You are perfectly normal. And I do not like ballet companies who only hire dancers that are of one body type because usually they are not all good dancers. Boring. If I wanted to see a lot of strings on the stage I would cover it with silly string (and save alot of money-and make a statement). Lines are not about weight, and dancing is not about weight (partnering IS), but here I might insert good partner and bad partner-people who do not want to lift their own weight, let alone other dancers. Tall girls weigh more than small girls-they just do. There is someone for everyone. Ballet is about ART and art is not about modelling or fashion-art is not pop. Art is about truth and beauty and other things. It is about strength and agility, stamina and interpretation. It is about entertainment, and not only one person’s who is creating the piece. It is for the world and the whole world is not going to judge by image. They judge by talent, ability and beauty and many other things. It is not all orgiastic claptrap and perfect bodies. That is pretentious and real art, passionate art is anything BUT pretentious! They do not want to admit it, and say, “so and so is just g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!”, and what they mean is “I am saying the right thing.” But they speak false. If truth is beauty, and beauty is truth, how can truth be false or false be beautiful…..? That is as much posing as anything and that is not art. No matter how deep they try to make it appear to be, some of it is just like a 45 minute fashion show and I do not find that moving, or relevant-except in context possibly, or meaningful. It is certainly not a forever theme. It is not real. It is not engaging. It is not interesting. It’s not even history. It is more a political statement than anything and art is not, or should not be, politics. It is boring! Perfect bodies have not necessarily been perfect artists-they have been perfect bodies. That is all. Not always perfect dancers. Some just can barely dance! Dancers have muscles and strength. They have to. Rarely do the two combine…..I love imperfections. They are unique! If you look hard enough, everyone has them. But don’t dwell on them-look at the dancing! And keep on dancing!

New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival’s Two Free Evenings of Dance| Sept. 16 & 17….


NYC Dance Stuff

10th Anniversary Season of New York City Center’s

 FALL FOR DANCE FESTIVAL

Kicks Off with

 FREE Dance in Central Park, September 16 & 17

 Hosted by The Public Theater

New York City Center will celebrate the  10th Anniversary of its Fall for Dance Festival with two FREE evenings of dance at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park,hosted by The Public Theater, on September 16 and 17 at 8 p.m.(rain date, September 18).

The FREE performances at The Public’s Delacorte Theater will feature four Festival alumni:

New York City Ballet (Red Angels, 1994)

Paul Taylor Dance Company (Esplanade, 1975)

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence (Upside Down, 1998)

STREB Extreme Action Company (Human Fountain, 2011)

(The same program will be performed on both nights.)

Free tickets will be distributed, two per person, at The Public’s Delacorte Theater on the day…

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Turn-out, Injuries, Hips, Knees and Feet: The importance of not overtraining, crosstraining, and specifically strengthening the opposing sides….


Margaret Barr's "Strange Children" [...
Margaret Barr’s “Strange Children” [ballet], 1955 / photographer unknown (Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection)

Dancers are strange children. For what other persons would set out to achieve the impossible, inch by inch, seeking a kind of perfection and freedom which allows them to communicate to others more artfully, those existing ballets created for bodies conditioned for performing these unbelievable and frequently imperceptibly impossibly difficult steps and combinations of steps? To the untrained eye, this intentionally looks easier than it is. But as they attempt to achieve more and more of the masterpiece that remains in the dancer‘s brain, only the very successful are considered to be so, and no one but a consummate artist can detect many of the imperfections and flaws contained therein. Certainly, no one but ballet dancers understand this, or stand united on the subject. Modern dancers detest it. The public doesn’t get it. And the trick is after all of that, dancers are forbidden to let you see their hard work. It is truly an art only really appreciated, deeply, by the best. And only they can criticize it, develop it, or lay at our feet the secrets of it. For most dancers themselves, you will find, find it difficult, if not impossible to explain, not all of it, anyway. They try. Misogynists or mystics?

jose limon

That photo is of Jose Limon. Sometimes, my thinking (and writing) delves into deeper, or more technical, areas where I am not an expert, but have concerns on the subject. Problems and experiences we have had may help to serve other people similarly facing such issues. That is by no means stating that I am, or have become, and expert on the subjects noted. It is very possible that I am wrong in stating some things, but I am thinking it out as I go-is there any other way? It is merely a line of thinking that I have found, or measures, which may prove to be, helpful to others. So I think, in this instance, I will share this. My daughter, has for some time been dancing and she is a hard worker. Because she started later, and had to learn so much to be caught up and prepared for her age level of dancing, she has traversed, in instances, very quickly, the long-practiced maneuvers, steps and poses of other ballet students, who frequently do not understand WHY they do things, or WHAT they are doing, but they do it everyday. So this is good for them, too. In addition to speeding up her practicum to achieve her dancer-sylph, she had had to work on her various short-comings.

All dancers have them. Each one, each area of the body needs to be fit, balanced and prepared for the hard work to come. getting to that point is obviously frustrating for even the best dancers (and the keeping it of it is also a repeated task). All dancers find they have some shortcomings. As the years, or levels, pile up, the dancing becomes more difficult, requiring the basic ability to execute various steps, and combinations correctly, and then more ability, and ultimately-perfection. But even at the preliminary stages when working, quickly, or more rapidly than they are accustomed to, and throughout your dancing career-however long that may be-foundation is forgotten in the moment of dancing, and you just dance as fast or as well as you can. It would admittedly be, a very tedious process,  if one had to stop every minute or so, and correct oneself, be corrected, or think about it, but that is what needs to be done, and what should be done, but it is NOT what is done beyond the basic level for many dancers. This is how most injuries occur.

Over-training is another common way to injure oneself. In order to become better, faster, it is very easy to get hurt and when you add on to that any other frailties, anatomical differences, technical abilities or shortcomings, it is a recipe for injury of some kind, all kinds, and we are finding-most kinds. One injury, when working at so high a level of training, can spiral outward, on the mend, with less than active (not as active) muscles, and result in consequential injuries, either to the first, or new. You almost can’t stop, but then you HAVE to. Most injuries will get worse if you continue to dance on them making the recovery time inevitably  longer and the possible injury itself-worse. My daughter’s injuries nearly all fall into this category, for nothing is essentially wrong with her-thank God. She is not deformed, has straight legs and only some hyperextension issues, which believe it or not is becoming more noticable with stretching and straining to become a ballerina. When anything is overstretched, it is a problem. Always.

She will have to watch out for these and many other injuries in the future, but for starters, these have been enough. In a nutshell, too soft pointe shoes (little support) resulted in an achilles injury (and a failure to really work her feet to make them stronger). While taking it easy on that (for months) and stretching to become able to do higher poses, achieve more turn-out and better grand jetes, she torqued her knee (and after 21 performances of Nutcracker, or something very close to that). Mind said, “turn-out” in plie, and knee refused. Overtraining and fatigue, I thought immediately. Then, while recuperating from that (80%) is about all I could rein her in-she experienced a deep groin pain preventing her from turning out at all, for no apparent reason. Many days had I suspiciously eyed her laying on the floor in the butterfly position, and thought,”too passive”, but….I was right, and wrong.

The hip injury is getting better, but for many weeks she has not been able to do much (involving turn-out) that does not cause pain. Oddly developpes do not hurt, while a simple ronde a terre-does, and a tendu! Movement of the whole leg in the hip joint. The hip. I came up with this after much research and found that most hip injuries in other dancers are down to five and we did want to rule-out the femoral fracture (Harkness/NYU). Whew! But all of them which did mention a pain, were on the outside or front of the hip and not deep inside it. The bad ones were deep, but, we knew it was

HTC modded keyboard running on my Samsung
HTC modded keyboard running on my Samsung (Photo credit: DanieVDM)

getting better and was not related to hip popping, so that ruled out all the rest except the femoral fracture-common to dancers, and she did not feel it was broken (she would deny it if it was!). They are very easy to break actually and require surgery…. Movements to the side hurt more and above the hip line in front???  Only certain positions means certain ligaments or muscles. Sometimes you can feel warmth (none), notice swelling (Ibuprofen), but she didn’t and neither ice nor heat were particularly effective. A warm bath might help, but it did not.

All of these things should be noted, and a journal should be kept following injuries so you can remember the activity associated with it that causes (caused) pain. My dancer cannot always recall what she was doing when it happened, especially if it becomes worse after class-could have been anything! A doctor will ask. The more you know, the better diagnosis they can give. Dancers do not like to think about their injuries, let alone, keep a journal of them. Morbid, but effective. Tell them to try recording it on their phones. Most Android phones have this capability and the recordings will show up in S Memo (or in Apps) and Media-they can find that; it is very handy for the lazy speakers. I did not say “lazy dancers.” These notes record by voice, too. Tell them to tell their phone to “record a memo.”

Her second injury, to the knee, I felt sure was related to her turn-out issues. I did not expect it was a turn-in issue. But is is. She has a great turn-out, but a poor turn-in. The doctor confirmed this, and we also ruled out hip or foot problems-basically they are perfect for life. We are still learning about dancing. Too much turn-out (stretching) has resulted in two injuries from weak turn-in-specifically the adductors and the hip muscles. If one is over turned out, and the body has to suddenly transition to a turn-in, and does not react quickly and forcefully enough-the counter-muscle strains-the one that helps you control turn-in and turn-out. Over turned-out-funny. In stretching, most dancers fail to realize strengthening has to be done in equal amounts as stretching, of the same muscles, for support and control. Teachers do not explain this. At all. And apparently, not effectively, especially for young students who have short attention spans.

For anyone involved in the serious study of dance, no doubt, the discussion of turn-out has arisen in class. You probably know by now if you have good or perfect turn-out because you will have heard it from teachers. It’s the next thing down from “feet.” Remarkably, many successful dancers have notably deficient turn-out. It is the actual foundation of all classical ballet. It is stated by doctors that the ease at which it is obtained (sometimes) appears to be correlated with the age at which dancing is begun. In short, turn-out is relative to ballet, therefore, it will be stated by some that it should be learned early. It is and it is not. Let me re-state that many professional dancers turn in all the time-they fail to remember to turn-out. It is perhaps the conditioning of it, not physiologically, but mentally, that makes it more well-remembered by the earlier you start, but in fact, that has to do with memory and not actual ability to turn-out. There is also functional turn-out and structural turn-out. Even those very rare students with “perfect (structural) turn-out,” turn-in (do not have good functional turn-out). It is not only one part of the hip that is actually responsible for how much turn-out one has, and actual deformity-again, popular in ballet (only), does occur, and is therefore deemed “perfect.” FURTHERMORE, it is just as important for dancers with this turn-out to remember, all the time, to turnout at the correct times-and they don’t! Children who do not want to work on turn-out are quick to notice this in professional dancers as “okay,” but it is not, necessarily. Everyone is different!

Perhaps they can exhibit better turn-out, which is nagged about in the studio, but face it, when they get on stage-they forget. Any dancer is only trying to remember 6,000 things on stage, and as you watch most of them, particularly soloists, you will notice they turn in, frequently, or you will notice that they do not exhibit their perfect turn-out, except when at the barre in first position or in plies, in second. Ligaments change, and dancers have to not only stretch to initially achieve turn-out, and exercises to strengthen it-do not stop at the barre (I’ll tell you why), but most dancers have to maintain their own degree of turn-out by stretching daily and remembering to reinforce turn-out in the studio and while dancing, all the time, for the rest of their lives.

As people get older, much older, all of their ligaments and muscles begin to deteriorate, so not exhibit the same elasticity as when they were younger, but dancers continue to dance, turned-out, or turned-in, and they continue to get nagged about it, until it is second nature, for the most part, for them to remember to turn-out or they get beyond the point professionally when any teachers complain about it anymore. That is one indication of a professional-not having to be taught anymore. It is up to the dancer to work on it, keep it and nurture it. Holding turn-out is how you refer to it in class and that is exactly what it means. Therefore, it is not the degree of turn-out which is extremely important in all dancers, but their ability to control it; that requires strength! And the lack of control causes injuries. Wait and see or get on it now, to prevent  injuries.

Dancers with perfect turn-out also turn-in, because of strength issues-not just memory loss or forgetfulness. It is the body’s natural inclination to do so, and the mind of a dancer must think about so many other things, occasionally (LOL), that sometimes it can just go-that is why you train to control it, so it goes where you want it to, and how far you want it to.

There are many exercises in ballet, poses in variations, and most importantly, but never mentioned,transitions in classical ballet, which cannot be accomplished without injury to a dancer who does not possess adequate turn-out to do them. Perhaps more importantly, not turning-out first and then failing to hold the required degree of turn-out can be dangerous if not life threatening, then dance threatening (and this is the worse of the two-for dancers!). This is anatomy and physiology, and fact. It is fairly safe to say, then, and I do, that all dancers turn-out excessively, whether good schools tell them to or not, they learn to, it is conditioned in other ways, even if teachers tell you they do not force turn-out. They teach turn out, refer to turn-out and yell, “TURN OUT,” and they have to if they teach Ballet.

English: First Position of the feet in Ballet
English: First Position of the feet in Ballet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice the “over turn-out” in first position? Slightly? What is too much for many persons is simply put, too much without control. I always releve (turned-out) in every position, just to check that my alignment is correct and that the right muscles are engaged, and that I can releve from that position. It is evident when doing this, if you feel awkward, or forced, that you are! Fix it-turn a little tiny bit in and gain control from that position before you open further. Practice making transitions and moving from these positions, think of variables, so that when the time comes, it is no sweat-you have done that before, and the body remembers it. Sometimes, I also attempt a plie from whatever position this happens to be, all of them, to make sure there is nothing wrong, to see what I can do, and to strengthen infrequently used muscles that may contribute to a better position in the end, by cautious means. What a lot of teachers mean by teaching turn-out young is that they can put dancers in over turned-out position and due to the laxity of the muscles at that age they do not readily see injury-that does not mean that it is not occurring, only that you can’t see it. Ask Mikhail Baryshnikov about his knees and forced turn-out and I am sure you will get an earful. I have found, over the years, that my habit, hard to instill or demand in others, fixes almost any turn-out problem, assures that I can execute the position(s) correctly (with the correct amount of turn-out), in transitions, or quickly, without hurting myself, and that after years of doing it, I have no issues or injuries! It’s like falling, with practice, you can learn to fall without injury, or with substantial reduction of injury. Falls happen-practice. After years of doing this, and I am much, much older than any of you reading this, it helps strengthen those muscles directly associated with each position, the best. How do you learn to surf? You surf. Is there exercise for learning to surf or be a better surfer? Yeah, surfing. How do you build up the muscles used in surfing? Surfing. Practice, practice, practice-not repeat, repeat, repeat! Also, holding these positions is easier after many repetitions, and many years. I have good balance from it in most ballet positions, and I haven’t really danced as hard as you are for 30 years! But I still do the exercises….

If, as a dancer, you attend a new class, and the teacher has you do something for which you are not physically prepared to do, you will fall out of it. That is the best sign, this muscle is not trained. Train it by doing the exercise over and over. Do not think to use the fail-safe quadriceps for anything except stability and pumping-force. The Amish say, there is always another way, and there is almost always another muscle that needs work when your quadriceps engage to protect you-they do not jump into action unless it is to protect you from a major tumble-from everything. The finer muscles responsible for controller finer movements-are ignoring you, not engaging, not working, because you haven’t trained them to listen. Most dancers think they have no faults, are not lazy, but mentally, there are things we just do not bother to do. We ALL do this. We also rely on routines and it is virtually impossible to do all of the exercises you need to do in one routine, so make list and rotate them-less chance for injury! It is hard, harder than 64 small jumps in center, all of them a foot or more off the ground, and then again, because it seems so easy we just take it for granted, but I bet you can do those jumps. Working and strengthening the finer muscles is hard, because these muscles are hard to find, hard to visualize, and they all work together at times, making the isolation of them very difficult to sort out, or the use of them fathomable. They are truly not as complicated as they seem, but you have to take the time and think about them, research them, practice using and finding them-or try to-and prevent injury.

Adequate turn-out for dancers is that degree of turn-out required for that dancer, based on his/her body structure, bone shape (especially the femur, acetabulum and pubis) which determine the range of movement of the hip, and also the ilio-femoral ligament, obturator externus (front-see picture below), and piriformus, gemellus inferior, obturator internus and externus (front), which in addition are responsible for the strength of the hip movements. Overstretching in the butterfly, for example, which virtually no teacher will tell you is harmful (“do it 3x a day!”), but it is. It is when you do not strengthen the hip, or stretch the hip sufficiently in the opposite direction. But enough is said about this to beginning or ambitious dancers who

OBTURATOR EXTERNUS MUSCLE

must stretch to attain a better degree of turn-out and they need to be particularly watchful, especially if they are teenagers. No exercises are specifically given for it in ballet class. Repeated 2x per day, these stretching exercises can overstretch the adductors, resulting in serious groin pain in the student, usually deep in the tissue, where ice and heat may have little impact. Ibuprofen can help, but must not be relied upon for daily use. The pain can be so severe the dancer cannot turn-out-that is actually the key to the cause of this pain, for most other injuries to the hip result in different kinds of pain inside or outside the hip, but not affecting the turn-out per se.

Piriformis - Muscles of the Lower Extremity An...
Piriformis – Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 8 (Photo credit: Rob Swatski)

From all of the material I have read about possible hip injuries, it is my own conclusion, and that of a venerable dance doctor, that without sufficient strength in the adductors, and overstretching present, a sudden twisting or turning can result in a straining of the muscles of the groin and on the inside of the upper thigh if they lack the tone to prevent overstretching. The pain in the upper thigh is frequently called “rider’s strain,” and is caused by too much stretch of the adductors when doing movement a la seconde (Dancer’s Book of Health, L. M. Vincent). It is said that some dancers, with ligament laxity, may even feel the thighbone “go out of joint.” This continual dislocating may lead to joint degeneration, so the importance of good muscle conditioning and avoidance of over stretching cannot be ignored! He says to “always seek control more than height”, and when warming up, do not risk strain by caving in to the temptation of placing the leg on the barre for the first stretch. Check with your dance teacher/physical therapist before performing these exercises to make sure they do not interfere with your goals.

Interestingly, students who feel that they do not possess enough turn-out can fall prey to this type of injury if their leg is inclined to drop “backward,” so they will often find that their turn-out is not lacking, but rather their ability to control it is. These types of exercises will help, but for specific muscle attention (there are six sets- count them- of muscles and ligaments responsible for turn-out, and a few other muscles besides) it would do to look up and verify which muscles to strengthen, what each set does, and the individual ones, and to go over where they are, when they are used and what to do to strengthen each one and each group, just to prevent injury and to be aware of this rather complicated area of the body, prone to injury in female dancers with a high level of ballet classes, training or just plain dancing. There are classes, sometimes, led by physical therapists (and dancers) to integrate whole body strengthening and conditioning to prevent injury in the different parts of the body that ballet dancers are susceptible to. These injuries are particularly a problem for adolescent students for growth and hormone reasons. Look no further than the Nureyev Foundation in Switzerland, to locate a dance doctor (a real one-not a quack) in your area, or a dance-trained physical therapist, who can help you discover more about your dancing body and its limits, as well as its possibilities!

http://www.noureev-medical.org/content/contact-information

Deep muscles of the medial femoral region.
Deep muscles of the medial femoral region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Your hip adductors (left) are all responsible for moving your leg in toward the midline of your body–a movement called adduction. Located on the inside of your thigh, your adductors stretch from the inside of your knee to the bottom of your pelvis. Strong adductors are important in knee and hip stability, and if they become weakened, you may find your knees are prone to dropping outward. Additionally, performing exercises for your adductors will tone the area of your inner thigh. There are a variety of exercises you can perform for this important muscle group.
Medicine Ball Squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place a light medicine ball or soccer ball between your knees. Keeping the ball in place by squeezing your knees together, squat until your knees are bent to 90 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push your hips forward and straighten your knees to stand up. Make sure that you concentrate on pushing your knees in against the ball throughout this exercise.

Lying Side Inner Thigh Lift
Lie on the floor on your left side with your body straight and your head resting on your outstretched left arm. Cross your right leg over your left and place your right foot on the floor, creating a figure-4 shape and allowing space to lift your lower leg. Raise your left leg inward by using your adductor muscles. Lift your foot 8 to 12 inches off the ground. Slowly lower your foot back to the floor and repeat before rolling over and changing sides. Make this exercise harder by wearing ankle weights-no more than 1 lb, and work up to that!

Hip Adductor Machine

Sit on the machine with the leg pads against your knees and your legs as far apart as comfortable. Press against the pads and push your legs together until the machine arms touch. Pause for one to two seconds before slowly returning to the starting position and repeating. This machine can strain your muscles if you are weak here, as most dancers are, it is advised to put it on its lowest setting and do no more than 12 reps the first several times, working up to three sets of 10 or twelve. Dancers also have to be careful not to bulk up-so many of these exercises have to be done in moderation, compared to general athletes, or those trying to get into shape. Dancers have a preferred shape, and need to remember to work the opposing side EQUALLY. In this case, that means, to put the pads on the outside of the leg and reverse the exercise. Most dancers will find it is easier to press the pads out (a no-brainer), than in. That is where you need work!

Lying Pillow Squeeze

This one is easy, so you will really feel “the pee” muscles working. My daughter hates it when I say this. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor (also on the bed or while you are waiting for lights to change to green in the car-anywhere and from any position). Place a large pillow between your knees. Keeping your head on the floor and your arms by your side, press your knees together and squeeze the cushion as hard as you can for five seconds. Relax slightly, but keep the cushion in place. Push your knees together again and continue repeating for the desired number of repetitions. Only a few will be possible at first, so do not overdo it. It is more important to hold it for 5-10 seconds than to repeat it often. It is also more challenging. Work up!

Many dancers experience imbalance between the hip adductors or inner thighs and abductors, the hip and gluteus muscles. To counter this muscular imbalance, here is a stretch which needs to be held at least 30 seconds. Personally, I do not recommend “adjustments” like pulling the leg (performed by some over-zealous chiropractic offices, and  frequently, without any warning!).

Preparation:

1) On floor or mat, lie face up with arms extended at sides

2) Lift one leg straight up then bend knee and hip to 90 degrees flexion

Execution:

1) Lower bent knee leg to opposite side toward hand.

2) Hold stretch for 30 seconds, maintaining 90° flexion in hip with both shoulders flat on the floor.

3) Repeat with opposite side.

For definition and reaffirmation:
Think that some dancers use the outer thigh more than they ought to, when it is the inner thigh which is typically responsible for turn-out.  Working the turn-out muscles require isolating them and using them-nothing else will work. The adductors are the frequently forgotten five muscles of the inner thigh that connect to the pelvis—the Pectineus, the Adductor Magnus, the Gracilis, the Adductor Brevis, and the Adductor Longus. Look those up and write down their meanings, then locate them in yourself and work on them. When a dancer has had an injury to the knee, for example, these muscles will have atrophied while the dancer was resting from the knee injury. The tendency for the dancer to resume the level of previous training that his/her body was accustomed to is presumed, since most dancers who have not had a previous injury will not be aware of or expect these initial limitations so they just jump right back into class “to get back to where I was”! Right? NO.WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
Even a few days off, literally, can lead to some scary loss of muscle tone and requires s-l-o-w and steady passive and active stretching to get back to ground zero. I also recommend the warm-up exercises of Ballet for Dummies (Evelyn Cisneros is one of the authors-and certainly NO Dummie!) In it, they well discuss passive and active stretching and the importance of EACH for dancers. Too much passive stretching before dance class can also lead to injury in dance class. Best to do moderate exercises (warm up) before class, and stretching OUT after class, for up to 45 minutes.
Yoga and Pilates demand strong inner thigh muscles — fortunately, routine practice of both strengthens the inner thighs.The Pilates Reformer is also said to produce amazing results, but work with a trained professional. Don’t do any stretch to the point of discomfort and don’t force any stretch. Work up!
A good stretching program is key to maintaining muscular balance. Hip and adductor muscles are focused on in CORE workouts, but prior to this, which can result in overworking some muscles and under working others that dancers use, dancers had to rely on themselves to diagnose and usually fix what was wrong, and in good ballet classes, teachers address this, usually through modern dance techniques and other exercises. There are many modern dance exercises which I believe prevent any issues in these areas through dancing. On The Count of One and The Dancer Prepares give some really good advice, and there is no end of information available on the subject. You will not hear this through an orthopedic doctor, who relies on personal links with general physical therapists to practice exercises, get patients “back”, which might be good for octogenarians or football players, but are not fulfilling for a dancer beyond an early stage of injury recovery. Dancers demand more-faster.

Although some of the same muscles come into play with athletes and the general population, dancers refine their use, and rely on a good deal many more muscles than does a football player, and also work at a higher level of training each one for specific uses not understandable to most orthopedic doctors unless they are also dance professionals. A dancer also uses them a lot more and a lot more turn-out stretches, means a lot more and tougher turning-in exercises. My argument here is that most of these types of injuries are turn-in injuries, rather than turn-out injuries, actually. A good modern (basic, then intermediate) technique class-Graham or Horton is best and can also work absolute wonders to this balancing act; it can act as the antithesis to ballet, thus working all of the needed muscles in a dancer’s range, while being easy on the body, when exactly properly performed, and done at least four days per week for any significant results. Since this is not available or possible for all professional dancers (who do not have the time to become modern dancers), many of them rely on yoga. Yoga is everywhere and gets you in places nothing else does, but is not as active as modern, and not dancing.

The important points here are to listen to your own body, and do not readily accept the physical therapy or medical advice of a medical professional untrained in the dance profession. Dancers are different and require the patience themselves to identify areas of concern, underwork, overwork and injury. All bound together, usually. Any pain in executing any position might indicate the dancer is doing something wrong, and the sooner this is diagnosed and corrected, usually through re-teaching and strengthening the affected part, ASAP, the better. You might say that dancers are continually pushing the limits and need to train smartly. They hold their fate in their own hands and how they approach such injuries can be the end of one or most connected injuries as well, or the beginning of several more related ones. Therefore, it is important to sort it out, when you can’t dance it out.
Keep on Dancing!