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Strong, lean muscles


gazelle
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My daughter received her report from her associates class yesterday and is delighted to have secured her place for a further year.

 

Her report highlights the need to work to have long, strong, lean muscles and to take care not to 'bunch and bulk'.

 

I am hoping to speak to her teacher, but in the meantime would welcome any thoughts about how to go about achieving the lean muscles and avoiding the bulk!

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I know this has something to do with engaging and using the right muscles, for example I know a lot of the girls find it hard to engage with the inner thigh muscles. I am sure dr dance, Anjuli and some of our other forum experts will explain more clearly than what i can.

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I am not sure how old your daughter is as uncertain if junior or senior associates. I am assuming the former. In this case she is still young and growing. You will notice that muscle tone varies a bit amongst dancers but this can be due to many factors. With one so young, learning to work the correct muscle groups so she is engaging her core muscles and inner thigh muscles should help to encourage muscle development in the right places. Stretching of the quadriceps and calf muscles will also help. With one so young it is probably something which will develop over time plus she is still growing. Practicing exercises such as tendus up a wall or mirror can help to train the muscles in a static manner but I would not place too much emphasis upon the comments with your daughter at this stage. I would just continue with basic exercises which she has no doubt been taught. There is always a risk that comments made about muscle bulk can lead to issues relating to body image in later life. Some children naturally have more defined muscle tone than others. It is also likely if she is a JA that she will go through subsequent growth spurts so everything may change through the process of physical development anyway. I am not sure if she is of average height for her age and the height and build of other members of the family?

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A lot of how one is constructed is based not only on how the body is used but also on genetics.  The same discussion as nature and nurture.

 

Generally speaking, it is thought that static movement (which seems a contradiction in terms) such as in sitting (stopping the dynamic movement) in pliés, leads to a tendency to grow the bulk of a muscle rather than stretching it.   A plié should be a flowing constantly dynamic movement.  It should be seen as the end of one step and the beginning of the next - not a time to rest.

 

A well designed ballet exercise generally has a stretch to oppose each contraction - a relaxation to oppose each tension.  An example is a rise to demi/full pointe and then a lowering into plié or another example, a dynamic plié to empower a jump and then a continuous flow downward into plié after the jump. 

 

The body works best in opposition - stretching against itself - a contraction and a release. 

 

This is the work of the teacher, too - to design a class exercise to accomplish this.  But the student needs to recognize what is happening, why it is happening and why it is important to pay attention to it. 

 

It would be interesting to speak to the teacher and ask if she had anything specific in mind - or could give an example.

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I guess I have one more thing to say - my apologies for a double post.....

 

A statement by the teacher like this:

 

"Her report highlights the need to work to have long, strong, lean muscles and to take care not to 'bunch and bulk'."

 

is too general.  It needs to be more specifiic.  Especially for a young student - the teacher needs to give an example so the critique can be understood and translated into specifics -and actually be of use.

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well my DD is continually being told shes weak even though she has long lean muscles and no bulk...then she has had huge growth spurts and is looking strangely out of proportion ..I don't know if its good to push a body to be stronger during this huge growing bambilike phase

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Thank you all for your replies.

 

Balleteacher - my dd is 14 and a half. She has always been on the tall side for her age and has had two big growth spurts in the past year. I haven't measured her recently, but would think she would be around 5 ft 5. She has never been tiny in terms of build, but has definitely filled out considerably over the last 12 months. I am a similar height to her and am fortunate to be naturally slim, but her father is 6ft 4 and of a big build.

 

Anjuli Bai - thank you for the very clear explanation. I will show your post to my dd and will feel more informed  when I manage to talk to her teacher.

 

I was wondering whether doing some Pilates classes might help?

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I think this is a very common issue in that group between 13-15 as that is usually the puberty growth spurt and all sorts of changes are going on then!! My friends DD is just 13 years old and has gone through huge change these last 8 months or so. Unfortunately for her she is the first in her group to go through is filling out process and it has been a bit uncomfortable for her this year to go from sylph like to fuller figure and is still growing!

It seems ballet teachers do generally get a bit worried about weight and muscle issues when these changes start!

 

However if the teaching is fairly sound your daughter (beyond genetic issues of course) shouldn't develop overly bunched muscles so I'm sure this can be worked on together. And it's very good news anyway she has been offered another year! :)

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Gazelle, two suggestions, speaking on a little experience of this very issue ... session with a dance physio/body conditioning person to look closely at how she is working and offer corrections/exercises in the event that she may be over reliant on strong thigh muscles. Secondly, a good all over sports massage on a fairly regular basis.

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Guest Autumn days

Moneypenny, I am assuming from what you have said that these have been successful for you. Does the masseuse have to be dance trained or familiar with dance or do you think that any qualified masseuse could help? Is this to effectively stretch out the muscles and is it best to do it Immediately after class or does it not matter?

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Genetics is going to be the major factor here! It's all to do with whether the muscles are primarily fast twitch fibres or slow twitch fibres. Fast twitch fibres are prone to bulking but generate power and speed, and slow twitch will look longer, leaner and are better for endurance. Compare a sprint athlete or footballer with a long distance runner - the difference in physiology is clear.

 

In dance there is an issue with performance versus aesthetic. Dancers want to be able to perform all kinds of movements and be strong and powerful whilst having no muscle!

 

As for the 'elusive' inner thigh muscle... I'd seriously love to know what teachers mean when they talk about this. If a dancer stands parallel, the inner thigh muscles are the adductors. In flat turnout 1st position, the inner-most thigh muscles are the hamstrings. Neither muscle group is actually an external rotator of the hip joint so doesn't contribute to turnout however the adductors do help. There's an interesting article here http://www.danceadvantage.net/2009/08/05/inner-thigh/

 

I second the suggestion to ask!

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An interesting way to think about using the inner thigh (or under the thigh) is to visualize the difference between:

 

In a développé of the leg - a hand has grabbed hold of the dancer's tights on the front of the thigh midway between hip and knee and is hauling the leg up.

 

and

 

In a développé of the leg - a hand is underneath the thigh and lifting the leg up.

 

Yes, I know this is not a scientific explanation of which/where muscles - but visualizations do work.  The leg hauled up from above will look (and often feel) heavier than one lifted from below.

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http://www.getbodysmart.com/ap/muscularsystem/thighmuscles/anteriormuscles/gracilis/tutorial.html

 

This is a link to an illustration of two important muscles in the thigh, the Sartorius and the Gracilis.   From the inside of the knee the former goes diagonally to attach at the outer edge of the pelvis and the latter at the front.  If the leg is correctly turned out the inner knee will  facing upwards so these muscles will help lift upwards.

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My daughter received her report from her associates class yesterday and is delighted to

have secured her place for a further year.

I'm sorry to change the subject, but how did you received the report? I was looking forward to receive my DD's report and I received lots of paperwork from RBS today, but not the report. Do we get it from our teacher in the class or is it send by post? We got the next year acceptance letter months ago. I am supriced that we need to send all the forms and a photograph etc once again ( every year I guess). Does every child in every centre receive a report every year?

Edited by Happymum
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