Struggle street

Struggle street

I had another ballet class (different teacher, same studio) last night. I learnt something: I am distressingly bad at balancing. I was just like…worse than the majority of the class. Maybe it’s because I’m 5’11” and my centre of gravity is way up in the clouds. I actively tried to engage my core, I wasn’t flopping around up there… I just wobbled a decent amount.

I’ve heard that practicing balancing every day with your eyes shut on two legs and then on one leg helps. I guess I’ll do that. If anyone knows of any sneaky lil techniques you should let me know!

The struggle is real, friends.

On the upside, my arms looked really floaty and lovely when they cooperated during barre. Oh but then I looked like a starfish when I tried to alternate between a pas de chat and something else across the diagonal.

On a non-ballet note, work was completely shit today and I was unbelievably glad to be home. It’s now the weekend and I have ballet on Monday so that’s my silver lining.

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20 thoughts on “Struggle street

  1. Our Yoga teacher always teaches us to pick a stationary point in front of us and lock eyes on that to help our balance in class. Doesn’t have to be at eye level, can be slightly above or below (like the barre is in class). I’ve heard that’s a good way to start until you’re ready to take a gander at looking around a little more. I’ve tried to stop doing it, but then I always fall or nearly do, and end up goin back to locking on a stationary point lol :P. Sorry work stunk, but kudos to you for finding the silver lining 🙂

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  2. Okay, this is going to sound kind of weird, but I find that kind of squeezing the inside muscles in my butt helps me keep my legs stable. It’s not all of the butt muscles. Like, pull your face into a fish shape and then locate muscles in the similar region of your other cheeks.

    Also, try to use a lot of visualization. A string pulling you up, your toes pushing you away from the floor, and et cetera.

    Make sure that you’re keeping your arms strong and stable; if they’re not, they will throw you off balance. Also make sure that your hips and shoulders are square and that you’re pulling up properly. You don’t want a huge curve in your lower back, and you want your shoulders to be parallel to your hips.

    Building more ankle strength will also help. Do slow releves in all of the positions at home, and also do slow releves on one foot (in coupe and then in retire). For the first couple of weeks, do then just at the barre/at a table you’re pretending is a barre. Once you develop more strength, do half away from the barre and half at the barre. Ankle circles and theraband work also helps with this.
    Strength in your knees is also imperative. Get on your leg and with your working leg, kick forward slowly and gently from the knee until you start to feel it. Don’t push past that point; add one or two more reps every week to two weeks and stop once you hit 25 or so. Do this both in parallel and turned out, and alternate between pointing and flexing your foot during the reps.

    For a higher and more stable demi-pointe, roll out your feet with a tennis ball before and after class, and stretch/massage your toes and arches before bed.

    …sorry for the rant, lmao. Balancing is my shit.

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    1. Oh, and try not to think of it as a stationary thing, but rather as a constant lift. You never stop the movement; you’re always pushing and lifting yourself up. So, don’t think “hold,” just think “lift up.”

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      1. The constant pulling up and not holding is what helps me the most. If I get too tense and grippy then balancing doesn’t work at all, but if I just think if energy flowing upwards, it works!

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  3. Ahhh, balancing, my old nemesis!
    I, too, noticed that when it came to balancing I was clearly the worst in the class my first semester. Unfortunately, even by the time this last semester came along I was still super wobbly. It felt so weird doing the arms correctly, and having nice pointed feet, everything going well, and then we go up into releve balances (on two feet) and I tip over. Felt like I went right back to square one almost…
    What has really helped me is strengthening my ankles and core, and more recently, remembering to keep my shoulders back (not saying that you have weak ankles or forward-shoulders or anything), and a LOT of patience. My center of gravtity is off compared to girls with a more typical ballet body as well, so I knew I had to work on it extra hard.
    I hadn’t heard about practicing by balancing with eyes shut – can’t wait to try it! But did you mean on two and then one leg on flat, or on releve?

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  4. Balance; my instructor gives great physical descriptions, such as, imagine you have a string from your belly button pulling you up, it’s tight and solid, you’re pulling up. Envision the string, actually think the movement through in our mind, core tight, lift up, string pulled. And yes, having a focus is key, however when I have my eyes open on a focus my mind is still imagining the tight string. I hope I make sense here
    One thing I am so bad at is remember the name of any ballet moves, which is a major fail. You seem to have it down, you go girl!

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  5. I guarantee you are not the worst in your class. Here’s what helps me…
    Practicing with your eyes closed is really (imo) about improving balance once you have it. For LEARNING to balance, you should probably keep your eyes open and pick a fixed point at eye level to focus on. Getting in that fixed-point habit will have you more ready for spotting on turns, anyway.
    Your height shouldn’t stop you. 5’11” is tall, but men balance well, and they are tall. You have to find it in your own body. Use the barre (or something barre height at home) to hold on to while you work on adjusting your alignment and find that secure place. (Lift the front of your hips so your pelvis isn’t rocked back/down, get your weight on the first two joints of the ball of your foot, so you aren’t standing on sickled feet, relax your shoulders back, bring your ribcage slightly forward, play with the level of your chin). Then when you have it… feel it… lower and go right back up and get back to that good place more quickly… again… until that’s your automatic go to position.
    Let go only when you feel totally secure (like days or weeks from now) and like you are not actually USING the barre. Better to use the barre and practice a correct balance, than to let go and practice a crazy pose of anxiety!
    Sorry this was so long. 🙂

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