In ballet this week..

I discovered yesterday that Misty Copeland is only 1.57m tall. This is super tiny, especially since I’ve always thought of her as being rather tall.

In fact, Tamara Rojo – who looks minuscule on stage – is taller than Copeland at 1.64m. Copeland is also shorter than the minimum height required to be a supernumerary in most professional ballet companies, which is usually about 1.65m.

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I recently bought my first ballet wrap skirt – mainly because I’d also bought a gorgeous new leotard that matches neither of my two dance shorts.

I wore my skirt in class yesterday but was dismayed to realise how fiddly it is! I was constantly adjusting it to tuck in the ribbon that kept coming above the waistline  of the skirt, which is distracting at best and annoying at worst. I like the floatiness of the skirt when coming down from jumps and turns though, so I might give it another go.

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Speaking of my beautiful new leotard, I have learnt the lesson to never ever buy dance wear that has fastenings of any sort. I had to strain to snap the press studs together when trying it on, then strain again to unfasten them.

I take two back to back classes on Friday, and while rushing to the toilet between them yesterday, realised that if I were in my new leotard I’d be spending precious minutes just trying to get myself out of it so that I pee and dash back to class. Seems like I have to save my leo for when I’m doing single classes then. Meh.

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I’ve been experiencing calf and groin strain on my right side, and have also recently noticed the occasional clicky hip, which resulted in my realisation that I have the following problems:

  • weak core
  • poor turnout muscles
  • tight hamstrings
  • gripped quads
  • uneven strength between my leg and right sides, leading to unnecessary strain

It’s disheartening to discover, after years of dancing, that my technique isn’t anywhere as good as I thought it was, and dismaying to experience all these issues in the run up to a performance!

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As we’ve been busy learning and practising the variations for said performance, yesterday was the first time in forever since we did petit and grand allegros in class. And I’m pleased to discover that I still can do a pretty good grand jete to the right! Oh yeah!

It’s a whole different story to the left though. My left leg lacks the power to achieve height and my right groin/hip is a bit tight and lacks the flexibility to get horizontal – see what I mean about being so uneven between my sides?

During this section, I got very paranoid watching some of my classmates land heavily from their grand jetes with a sickled foot as well. It brings back memories about how I broke my 5th metatarsal after coming down wrongly on grand jetes (I blame the slippery, hard gymnastics floor that is so unlike that of a ballet studio), and the THUMP from a heavy landing plus the visuals of a sickled foot makes my imagination to go places I’d rather not be.

And to be honest – and at the risk of sounding like a snob – it makes me extremely nervous to see people attempting steps beyond their ability. Sure you can try to do a grand jete, but keep it low and aim to get the technique right, instead of going so high but doing so with bent knees, poor feet, etc.

Note what I said above about all my problems resulting from poor technique? I am walking proof that dancing with the wrong technique results in injuries. It is in your own interest and for your own safety to take things slow and focus on getting the basics right first. I can’t emphasise that enough and wish more people felt the same way.

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