How to improve ballet technique and having perfect Ballet Technique is a quest that all dancers are aiming for, as without good technique, your ballet dancing won’t look like it should.
In this blog post, I will explain what ballet technique is and will explain how to improve ballet technique.
What Is Ballet Technique?
You can always spot a ballet dancer, no matter where they are or were trained. They are the ones with the beautiful muscles, regal posture and turned out legs. Most dancers cannot help turning out their feet as they walk down the street, and they have a distinctive ‘duck footed stance’ that sets them apart from non dancers.
Technique in ballet is learned from an early age and worked on consistently in every class, as it takes years to perfect.
Ballet technique is made up of these three simple elements:
- Alignment or Placement
- Lift or Pull-Up
You need to work on and perfect all three of these elements within your ballet dancing if you want to improve your ballet technique. You learn these fundamentals right from your first ballet lesson, and your body eventually absorbs them so completely that they often stay with you forever.
How To Improve Ballet Technique
Here are a few ballet technique tips for you to try.
Start with your feet in ballet first and work your way up with this checklist:
- Are all ten toes on the floor?
- Is your weight evenly distributed on both sides of your feet?
- Ankles should be straight and not rolling in or out.
- Are your knees facing the same way as your toes?
- Are your legs turned out at your hip? Remember to keep your knees straight.
- Are your hips in line with the center of your feet?
- Make sure that your pelvis is not tucked to much underneath. The Coccyx should be facing downwards to the floor.
- Make sure your torso is slightly forward so that your armpits align with your hips.
- Are your shoulders open and your shoulder blades gently pulled down your back to support your arms?
- Make sure your rib cage is not sticking out.
- Is your belly button held?
- Is the back of your neck long and relaxed?
- Your chin should neither jut forwards, nor tuck in.
- Are both sides of your body even?
To move with speed and precision, you must be ‘pulled up’ or have lift in the entire body. Think of engaging and lifting the muscles of your feet, legs and torso, rather than clenching them.
Lift shouldn’t be rigid and shouldn’t restrict you vertically. Your body will still bend and flow, and your feet will make good contact with the floor as you feel your body growing tall, like a tree that has its roots planted into the ground and the branches and trunk reach up into the heavens.
Pull-up lifts you up and forwards, as ballet requires forward momentum in the centre most of the time. When standing still you need to prepare your body by pushing forward with the muscles on the backs of your legs and putting more weight on the balls of your feet than on your heels.
When working or standing on one leg, think of making the supporting side of the body long and tall. Don’t allow yourself to sink into your supporting hip.
Lift is hard work when done properly.
Ballet dancers have, since the beginning of ballet, always been turned out, as this enables the dancer to move easily from side to side, jump and travel without ever needing to turn away from the audience. Turnout just makes ballet look a whole lot better and prettier.
When the dancer raises her leg out to the side, the turnout enables her to do so without displacing her hips and torso. If she lifted her leg out to the side without turnout, the hips will become uneven and the alignment is lost. Everything done in ballet is helped by turnout.
Proper turnout starts deep in the hip socket and continues all the way down the leg to the knee, ankle and the foot. The entire leg rotates outwards lead by the inner thigh muscles.
Most of us have to work with what turnout we have, as very few dancers have 180 degree turnout. Turnout must be carefully worked and coaxed with gentle stretches. Never work from overly turned-out positions, as this can cause injuries over time. Knees must stay directly over the toes at all times and not roll forward, especially when the dancer plies.
- Don’t let the pelvis tuck underneath you in an effort to turn the feet out more.
- Make sure both legs are turned out equally.
- Rotate from the hips and avoid clenching the buttocks too hard.
- Don’t force your feet to turnout more than you are comfortable with.
More things you can do to improve your ballet technique:
Although it may seem boring, repeating what you learned in class is one of the best ways to improve your technique.
Focus on moving through your steps and positions slowly, making sure your technique is perfect. Do this until you can’t stand it anymore. And then do it at least ten more times. This is so that you can train your muscle memory to perform without having to think about what your body is doing. Once you have good muscle memory, you can work more on your performance.
Part of having great technique is being flexible. If you are flexible, you have less pain and more range of motion when you go through your movements.
Stretch at home, as there is not actually enough time in class to stretch as much as you actually need to in order to improve your technique significantly.
Just like repetition, you need to focus on steps you are learning and aim to perfect them.
I trust these ballet technique tips have helped you understand better how to improve ballet technique. If you have any questions, please leave your comments below.