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Swayback knees


taxi4ballet
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I'm hoping that someone might know whether swayback knees can cause problems when landing from jumps. My dd's teacher has mentioned that dd has trouble bringing her heels down on to the floor, and dd says that she can't relax her calf muscles enough and tenses up as she lands. Are there any exercises she could do to help?

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I don't think it is the swayback knees themselves which are the problem. It is more likely that they are a visible sign that she has long, soft tendons and hypermoblility. This most likely is also the case for her feet too. Therefore it is the intrinsic muscles in her feet which need strengthening so that she can catch herself with the pads of the toes and roll down with resistance though the foot when landing from jumps. Then she will be able to release her calf muscles and achilles tendon to go fully into demi plié with the heels down.

 

All the exercises for strengthening metatarsals, those for rolling through the foot, and correct use of pressure against the floor in battements tendus should help.

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Pas de Quatre - yes, she is hypermobile, and she is lazy with her feet too, so foot strengthening exercises do sound like what she needs.

 

DD tends to instinctively tense her muscles, even when trying not to - perhaps it's the body's self-defence mechanism kicking in to stop her over-stretching her joints (?) and it seems to give a jack-in-a-box effect.

 

She' been told to not 'lock' her knees, as otherwise she has a gap between her heels in 1st position, and also has to work hard to releve close together in 5th, and she finds it really frustrating that her body is almost working against her.

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That is a very interesting description "her body is working against her." I would say not quite against - but it is a difficult body construction with which to work.

 

She must never push back on her knees - this will aggravate the condition and certainly alter her allignment and center of balance. She has to learn to "feel" what is correct - and this takes constant reminder from the teacher not only to tell her when it is incorrect, but just as importantly when it iS correct so she can record what correct feels like.

 

As for putting her heels down at the end of a jump - many students (even professional dancers) have this problem. It will help her to learn this at slower tempo and learn to transfer it to faster tempo. She has to learn to think "toe - ball - heel."

 

The jump is not finished when she reaches the floor - the jump is finished in demi-plié - heels down. Some students are helped to learn this by (strangly enough) jumping several jumps in a row on one foot - that gives them no choice but to use the demi-pllé heel down pushoff for the next jump. This can be practiced at the barre facing a mirror. It can also be practiced using two feet.

 

The faster the tempo the more difficult it is and the more tempting it is for the heels to be left off the floor - so practice it at slower tempos. The problem usually occurs in sequential (more than one jump) rather than in a single jump.

 

This also needs to apply this throughout the barre work in every dem-plié and in steps that are not usually seen as a jump but more like a glide such as glissade or turns like pirouette. She has to learn to apply it in more places than just jumps.

 

I hope something i've said here helps.

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Anjuli, yes, it's really helpful, especially the bit about heels down in demi-plie. She really does struggle with this, particularly with several jumps in a row, and so can't get the elevation because she's pushing from the balls of her feet.

 

Interestingly, this was picked up by her modern teacher, and not by the ballet one.

 

She doesn't get constant reminders from her ballet teacher which is why we are moving (I talked about this on another thread).

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