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Too injured to start ballet at University? Or give it a go for fun anyway?


Thumper
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I'm about to start University in London, and my Uni has a Ballet Society which I'm really interested in joining. I did ballet for maybe a year when I was four/five years old and then dropped it, but I always loved to watch the professional ballet productions when they came to town. Now I've got the opportunity to learn again, I'd really like to try it. They cater for beginners as well as intermediate/advanced dancers, so I'm not worried about being out of my depth/starting a new activity.
However. I have a metal screw holding my left heel together after I broke it in two when I fell out of a tree when I was eight. Thankfully, most of those problems have more or less cleared up for the meantime, but I also have four screws in my left hip after hip surgery when I was 13 (which was unsuccessful).
I find certain movements quite awkward, and some lateral movements can be quite difficult for me to do, but I'm also going to join the Yoga Society with the hopes of increasing my flexibility to make things a little easier.
My question is - how much of a problem do you think this might be? Obviously having limited movement isn't going to help, and I struggle to completely turn my feet out when I try first position because I can't rotate my hips all the way. Heavy landings on my heel aren't ideal, but I've adapted over the years to always land on the balls of my feet. I've also got very high arches which has made for some very interesting shoe fittings over the years since I struggle to find ones that fit me properly!
Any advice? Could I still join the ballet society, or is it a bit of a silly idea? I'm not expecting to be some dance prodigy that improves at a rate of knots, but it would be quite nice to have a part in a production a few months/years down the line :) I'm 5ft 7inches though, so I suppose I'd be relegated to the back rows ^^
Thank you for any advice in advance! I hope I haven't posted this in the wrong forum.

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Hi Thumper! Welcome to the forum. If I were you I would have a chat to the teacher and see what he/she thinks. Jumping may be a problem for you on both counts but I don't see any reason why you shouldn't do beginners' ballet and perhaps sit out for any exercises which may exacerbate injury. Perhaps you could do one or two trial classes?

 

We have some wonderful teachers on balletco so hopefully they can advise you from an expert point of view (instead of an injured p.o.v. which is all the expertise I have!) :-)

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I would go and see your gp first to check that you couldn't do yourself any lasting damage. If they say ok I would try it and see what you think, may be ok may not but you've got nothing to lose by trying! Ballet shoes are quite unforgiving for any pre-existing foot problems as there's not really any cushioning, do you know whether they have studios with a sprung floor?

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According to the website ~

"The Activities Studio has a fully sprung floor and mirrors down one side. It is open throughout the year during term time and hosts many sports and societies . . ."

So - yes :) It does have a sprung floor.

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Giving it a go for fun would be a lovely idea, and I agree with the other posters that it would be best to get checked out first, and then discuss things with the teacher, so that they are aware of your medical history.

 

If flat ballet shoes do prove to be unsuitable for you, then perhaps (with the agreement of the teacher) you might be able to wear ballet shoes with a small heel - I think they're called teaching shoes and ballet teachers sometimes wear them instead of flat shoes. They would still allow you to move, and I dare say they are a lot more comfortable. :)

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Thank you ever so much for all the input!

I had a chat with my GP about taking up new activities a little while ago, but the general consensus was "Have a go and see." 

Helpful stuff :)  

I was planning to inform the ballet teacher before lessons begin just to let him/her know why one of their students is doing their best impression of Bambi on ice!

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Hi well I'm 65 and have to be careful too after returning to ballet..well just on three years ago now after a 20 year gap!

 

Ive broken both ankles within the last twelve years.....just simple running and falling over accidents....but your ankle and more your hip injury does sound more serious....even though a while ago now.

 

What I do for the jumping part of the class is quickly insert insoles into my normal leather ballet shoes(not split soles....probably not good for you to wear these) these insoles have a cushioning gel in them....not much....but it definitely helps and if you are on a properly sprung floor this is half the battle with doing any jumping.

 

You would be in a beginners class....and make sure it is a proper beginners class and not a "general" class and if you get this right you won't be doing loads of jumping anyway!! Just a small section in the last 10 mins.

 

All you can do is try!! Stop immediately if there is any unusual pain better to start slowly and build up.

I am amazed at how much progress I have made in three years because I was pretty awful when I started up again and got puffed out just doing half a dozen little jumps in first!! Also don't worry about getting your feet too turned out....you always work with your natural hip rotation and initially anyway err on the side of caution......lots of people who are good dancers haven't got complete turn out in first position so definitely not something to worry about.

 

And you do have Youth on your side!! Which is great!! But like with any knew exercise just take it carefully and see how it goes.

My bone density was down a bit four years ago and when Inhad a scan a couple of months ago the score for my spine had gone up only slightly but is now back in normal range. My hip score had remained same but hadn't gone down.....so the GP was pleasantly surprised on both accounts and said to "carry on dancing"!!

Best of luck....do give it a go and let the Forum now how it all goes many will be interested here!! Linda x

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Sorry forgot to say ALWAYS inform the teacher about any condition you may have whether a permanent or temporary injury. Teachers like to know this and it helps so that you don't overdo something because toy think you OUGHT to be able to do something when often a teacher will advise against if they know about it!!!

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