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Over splits


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#1 tomuchtallent

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:02 PM

Should dancers that are flexible do extra stretching to achieve over splits or is this getting to gymnasticy?

My dd is flexible and i have noticed in the lessons that they are working on over splits on both ways.Will this help with anything or is it more of a show off thing?and is it nessasary?

#2 dancerbabe82

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 07:25 PM

Having oversplits allows dancers to get to 'splits' or near splits in movements like leaps and penchee arabesques more easily. There are 2 types of flexibility - active and passive. Passive involves using the floor, or a hand or a friend to help and often dancers can get into splits this way but find it hard to actually 'use' their splits in an active way. Active flexibility is the flexibility you can use yourself eg using your own strength to developpe into split or hitting a split in a leap. There is always about 30 degrees less active flexibility than there is passive. So if a dancer can get 30 degrees past a straight split passively, it's more easy to get a straight split in other movements.

Does that make sense?!
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#3 All4dancers

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 08:40 PM

There is always about 30 degrees less active flexibility than there is passive. So if a dancer can get 30 degrees past a straight split passively, it's more easy to get a straight split in other movements.

Does that make sense?!


Thank you for that explanation. I was also wondering why oversplits were practised and now I understand :)

#4 Jellybeans

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:04 PM

It has always been my understanding that over splits a unnecessary and dangerous! I know some people are naturally very flexible but, personally, I don't think it is worth the risk of injury to achieve them! far better to work on the strength to use what flexibility you have!
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#5 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 11:18 PM

It has always been my understanding that over splits a unnecessary and dangerous! I know some people are naturally very flexible but, personally, I don't think it is worth the risk of injury to achieve them! far better to work on the strength to use what flexibility you have!


I agree with this. The problem of trying to attain an oversplit - even passively - is that it shows up in performance. (I'm not sure I like the word "passive" - since I see dance as dynamic - even in practice as dynamic.)

We are seeing more and more pictures of dancers in performance oversplit in the air - an....er....uh....that's a crotch shot. Sorry, that's what it looks like.

The original beauty of a grand jeté was not a split - but ballon - how it floated - hovered. I don't really want to see an oversplit hover and I don't see any beauty in it - nor do I see any meaning in it - or musicality.

I think such stretching is beyond the ballet structure and I'm sorry to see it used and/or practiced. The body was not meant to do this - and I was not meant to watch it.
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#6 petipacat

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:12 AM

So beautifully said Anjuli you are so right about the ballon :)

#7 thequays

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:09 AM

I always think images of an oversplit not only look unnatural,but really gross too.!
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#8 dancerbabe82

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:23 AM

Anjuli I agree that dance is dynamic - but there is nothing dynamic about sitting in the splits!

#9 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:35 PM

Anjuli I agree that dance is dynamic - but there is nothing dynamic about sitting in the splits!


Well, I see that as dynamic too - silly me!

If something is happening - good or bad - then it is dynamic. I know that's not scientific - but I am not a scientist! :)

One sits in a split so that something will happen. Actually, I'm not sure I like the word "sit" - a split is not a sit - it is a done so that something will happen.
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#10 dancerbabe82

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:12 PM

You're not silly! But the 'technical' term for flexibility where there is an external 'thing' or 3rd party applying the force is 'passive' versus active. Just sayin'!

#11 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:33 PM

You're not silly! But the 'technical' term for flexibility where there is an external 'thing' or 3rd party applying the force is 'passive' versus active. Just sayin'!


I divide ways of stretching into three groups:

1. The body against itself - example - if you stretch your arms up in the air - or stretch out your foot in pointe or a heel in hand.

2. The body against an inanimate object - example - body against the floor such as brushing out the foot with weight on the foot against the floor - isometric - or such as going down into a split or stretching the leg along the barre.

3. An object moving the body - example - such as someone pushing you down into a split.

I see the first method as a safest. The second a bit less so - and the third as the most precarious.

I think that the body should always have an escape route - the first provides that, the second a bit less so, and the third the least.

Another factor is whether the body is bearing weight whilst stretching. Asking the body to bear weight while also asking it to stretch is a bit more complex than asking the body to stretch while not bearing weight.

Example: if one is going down into a split with a hand on either side to help catch the weight, should something occur -- a sudden pain/twinge that feels like trouble - the hands are there to help and the weight can be divided up between two legs and two hands. Also the floor is close by and this limits the "fall."

But if you take that split stretch and do it where one leg is run up a wall - the body is being asked to bear all its weight on one foot - the floor is a longer way down and the hands not in as good a position to help.

But - that leg up the wall has wow factor - so people do it. What's to be gained?

As you can see I don't do much with technical terms - just as old ballet teacher who made up her mind in 40 yrs of teaching she would try to do no harm.
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#12 akh

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:51 PM

Would everyone had your wisdom Anjuli. Always a sensible and considered comment. Thank you.
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#13 tomuchtallent

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:47 AM

I agree with everything you have said Anjuli.The only problem is that ballet seems to get harder and harder and demands more of the dancer and being more flexible is one of them.If you want to be a professional dancer these days, to be the best you have to keep up with the joans!!
Today i think there are more people that like to watch higher legs, more turns,nicer feet,great flexability and that seems thats what the schools are looking for too.
Just doing normal splits seem not enough these days!And with youtube ect more people are in competition with eachother and feel they have to acheive the same to stand a chance of success.
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#14 Jellybeans

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:14 PM

I'm not sure that you tube plays a great part in the selection of dancers. It seems to be that the very vast majority of clips on there are posted because the dancer wants to show off. It is the same with Facebook. The profile pictures of so many student dancers show them in positions of extreme flexibility and I am not sure that that demonstrates a particularly accurate understanding of the art.

#15 alison

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:00 PM

We are seeing more and more pictures of dancers in performance oversplit in the air - an....er....uh....that's a crotch shot. Sorry, that's what it looks like.

The original beauty of a grand jeté was not a split - but ballon - how it floated - hovered. I don't really want to see an oversplit hover and I don't see any beauty in it - nor do I see any meaning in it - or musicality.


Ugly, ugly, ugly, and shouldn't be encouraged, in my book. And made worse by the fact that the general impression given is that both legs curve upwards in a flattened "w" shape. It turns my stomach most of the time.
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#16 glowlight

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:08 PM

Has anyone seen the imagary on the new 'Royal Ballet' range of cosmetics currently being promoted by Dance Direct? One of them illustrates just this issue - it's not pretty.

#17 dancerbabe82

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:17 PM

So if companies like the Royal Ballet are using oversplit leaps and oversplit penchees etc to sell stuff, they must think that it is desirable?
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#18 janice and ellen

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:18 PM

Glowlight. I have just had an e-mail with the pictures you mentioned and I agree the one of the dancer standing in one leg is awful.
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#19 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:24 PM

There is a difference between "desirable" and "eye catching." Eye catching doesn't mean it is positive - when someone falls it catches our eye. An advertisement is meant to catch your eye - not present an art form.

If my child had a ballet teacher who was stretching his/her body past a split - I would say "no."

Someone has to say "no."

Otherwise silence is assent.

Otherwise where does it stop? There was a time that all sorts of horrors happened in (regular/not dance) schools - especially in boarding schools. Until someone said "no."
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#20 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:35 PM

Sorry for the double posting, but there is one thing I would like to add....

There are a lot of young dancers on my FB page and they like to send me pictures of dancers dancing. Most are very beautiful and/or emotive of a role. However, they also send me pictures of exaggerated stuff like oversplits, etc. because they love the wow factor and they want to share it with me.

I always reply - and try to let them know that this type of thing is not ballet - it's not beautiful. I try to do it in a way that will inform - not castigate.

We all have opportunities to teach or at least let our opinion be known. I want them to be discerning - not to just accept everything as the norm. I want a youngster to question what is presented as "norm."
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#21 Jellybeans

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:14 PM

Anjuli, I would love to have seen your face if confronted, as I was recently, with a young dancer "warming up" by doing the splits with her feet on two chairs, placed a "splits width" apart!! There were lots of even younger dancers in the room that thought she was so very clever, even when I tried to suggest that it was not something that they should be copying!!

#22 Ja Sm

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:29 PM

Ouch! Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it!

#23 spannerandpony

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:29 PM

My jaw just hit the floor!
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#24 Pups_mum

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:38 PM

[

Has anyone seen the imagary on the new 'Royal Ballet' range of cosmetics currently being promoted by Dance Direct? One of them illustrates just this issue - it's not pretty.

I was just coming to post exactly the same thing as I had an advert for this in my inbox today. I thought these items might make a nice present for a young friend who has a birthday coming up, but that picture put me right off. I don't know a lot about the technicalities but I know what I like to see and I think overspilts and so on just look ugly. I can't believe it's good for the body either. I don't want to give or reinforce the idea that it's desirable to look like that by giving those pictures to an impressionable young girl. I definitely won't be buying these products.
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#25 spannerandpony

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 04:37 PM

That's a real shame, isn't it? I know it's only on one of the products - the muscle gel, I think - but it's enough to put me off buying that particular product for my daughter. :-(
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#26 glowlight

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:15 PM

And the great shame is that looking at the ingredients list is sounds as if it might be quite good.
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#27 tomuchtallent

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:50 PM

I dont think that positions in over splits looks nice either but it has crept up over the years and where will it stop!havent seen the new RB ad but it just goes to show you why young dancers want to achieve it.

And its true,its not ballet or beautiful or mean you can dance.
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#28 rowan

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 06:09 PM

Even ordinary splits positions shouldn't be appearing in a ballet, technically, never mind the oversplit positions.
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#29 Fonty

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 02:42 PM

I had never even heard of this until reading this thread. I went off and had a look at the Dance Direct web pages, and the pictures are truly shocking. :o

I've never seen anything so ugly in my life. Is this really what schools are encouraging now? I remember making a joke once to someone about six o'clock extensions would soon be seen to be too easy, and the dancers would strive to achieve five past six extensions. Somebody must have taken this seriously.
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#30 Ribbons

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 03:37 PM

I dont think that positions in over splits looks nice either but it has crept up over the years and where will it stop!havent seen the new RB ad but it just goes to show you why young dancers want to achieve it.

And its true,its not ballet or beautiful or mean you can dance.


It is sad that the gymnastic element of ballet has become a focus. If I wanted to watch gymnastics, I would go to the gymnastics events or the circus. Sadly all DDs friends try and copy the same pose that is on the RB product (before it came out) and they are more concerned with how high they can get their legs, how deep their splits etc than they are with whether they can dance or not. This isn't something they have just made up, it is influenced by the pictures they see on Facebook and the culture that comes from the companies downwards :(
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