Today I want to talk about how to get your leg up higher in develope to the front and to the side.
It’s not easy! But, it’s possible. And if you do what I share with you in this letter every day, you will see excellent results in about three to four weeks. I will tell you what I did to improve my develope and the five points that you should pay attention to. In the following newsletter I will share a detailed list of exercises you should do on the floor. So without further ado….
First – Stretching, stretching, stretching!
I used to do a 30 minute stretching routine every day with one in the morning and one at night. It consisted of about 15 minutes of yoga exercises to warm up the body followed by some extreme stretching of the leg to the front, to the side, and to the back. If you are doing ballet and haven’t tried yoga yet, I highly, highly recommend you at least take a beginner class once a week. It will help you with your flexibility and posture. In future newsletters I will provide a detailed list the stretching exercises, including the asanas.
Second – bring attention to your supporting foot.
Is it strong enough? Check that when you are standing, your weight is mostly over your toes and you are ready to go up into releve at any time. I call it ” jumpy feet” or “cat feet” or bouncy feet. What I mean is your supporting foot should always be feeling that its pushing from the floor.
Also make sure your supporting foot is not over turned out. In the beginning, you need all the support from it, so put in a comfortable position such that you can feel all your toes holding that floor and pushing up from it. Later on, when your leg is high enough, you can slowly work on turning your supporting foot out, but for now keep it in a comfortable position.
Try this for me and see how true it is! Do a develope with your supporting foot over turned out and then do it with your foot comfortably standing on the floor. Can you feel there is a difference?
Third – how close can you bring your working leg with the bent knee to your body?
A lot of my students had a tough time doing that for one reason or another. Next day you are in class, try lifting your leg after passé with the the knee still bent as close to your body as you can and then try opening your leg into a full develope to the front or to the side. I guarantee, your hip muscle will feel some pain and you won’t be able to straighten your leg completely. But if you commit to using this technique every day for couple of weeks it should definitely improve. Let’s give it ten days and if after that your leg is still not higher – write to me about it!
Fourth – building your lower back muscles!
A lot of students are compromising the height of the leg by bending the spine, especially in the lower back. Why? Because it’s extremely hard not to…
But by holding your spine straight and strong especially in the lower part of your spine you are working on the most important and valuable thing you can possibly do for yourself and your technique. By never allowing yourself to relax your back muscles you are multiplying your efforts by a thousand times! Remember this important point all throughout your ballet class.
Fifth, but the hardest one…
is to build and strengthen your hip muscle “sartorius” (longest muscle in the body!) – the one that is responsible for the actual holding of your leg up. According to wiki, sartorius “assists in flexing, adduction/abduction (weak) and lateral rotation of hip, and flexion of the knee. Looking at the bottom of one’s foot, as if checking to see if one had stepped in gum, demonstrates all four actions of sartorius.”
Again give yourself three/four weeks for doing this exercise every day and you WILL see the results.
One of my former teachers, Natalia Dudinskaya, had this as one of her favorite exercises. It’s actually called divise en quart. It’s brutal, but it does the trick. This step is demonstrated in a very old video which you can view here (sorry for the bad quality).
Until next time and live with passion,