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Ballet - Adult Dancers
Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By pelerrojamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1125, member since Fri Mar 18, 2005
On Sun Jul 27, 2008 01:36 PM

Hi All,

I'm posting this in the adult forum because I think I'll be more likely to get answers that are useful to me. However, please feel free to move if necessary mods.

So- I'm an adult beginner, have been dancing 3 times per week since the middle of March now. My teacher spends a *lot* of time talking about placement and we spend a lot of time making sure our weight is placed properly on our legs etc. I'm usually fine until the moment I have to stand on demi-pointe on one leg and it all goes to pot from there...and since I can't even balance like this, it's making things such as pirouettes practically impossible.

Does anyone have any ideas why it might be a problem? I wonder if it might be my weight. I started at 'the wrong end of 200 pounds' but havce since dropped about 30 pounds, thanks to dance and weight watchers...still, I'm having to pull up an extra 50 lbs than everyone else in the class and maybe I'm lacking the strength?

I suppose it might also be my placement but I'm really quite stable with everything else and I'm careful to keep my hips square. I do have a tendency to drop my head though...

Anyway- any ideas or tips would be thoroughly welcome!

16 Replies to Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help!

re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By PerfectFeet Comments: 342, member since Mon Feb 11, 2008
On Sun Jul 27, 2008 03:56 PM
Don't worry, I am pretty thin and still have trouble with this as well!


Trying to balance on a turned-out foot in releve is just plain hard to begin with!

One instructor gave us a decent analogy; To think of a balloon insider your head and chest, just pulling you straight upward. It won't feel quite so much like everything is resting on that one foot. When you're properly aligned and "letting" yourself rise like this (I know - yeah right!), the balance and strength are easier to obtain.

I gotta ask, "adult beginner"... how old are you? :)

I too am one of those and am doing quite well with it. I love to hear of others who are applying themselves whole-heartedly!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By miraclefrmheavnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2064, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Sun Jul 27, 2008 04:12 PM
Pelerroja,

Thanks for your post. Congratulations on your weight loss!!!!! I am so proud of you! You are very blessed. Remember that! I will try to help you in regards to your other questions my friend.

Well, what I can say is I can't keep my balance much either and always have to hang onto something.

1) Question, do your ears hurt?

I ask that because an ear infection can put your balance off whack. I've had a double inner ear infection so bad before to the point where I fell over from dizziness.

If your ears don't hurt, then try to do balancing exercises at home. Like stand on one leg holding onto something if you have to and learn to balance that way before going to demi-pointe.

2) Now here's another question for you (sorry for the questions just trying to get a better feel of what is going on with you darlin, that's all). Are you all the way up on 3/4 demi-pointe?

I'm not because I'm very overweight and I can barely lift my heel up off the ground in ballet slippers standing on one foot. That's why I ask. And that's something I have to work on tremendously to build the strength in my feet and legs to be able to hold my well over 250 pound frame. It hurts and it is very hard.

So, in essence, I would basically say try to do balancing exercises standing on one leg to get adjusted to it and then trying to rise to demi-pointe from there.

I'm sorry if I'm not clear on my post. Please PM me if I can help you any further darlin. *HUGS* to you. I am so proud of you for your weight loss! Woohoo! YAY! Gooooooo Pelerroja!

Sincerely,

begstretcher2008 :)
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By catd Comments: 264, member since Sat Oct 14, 2006
On Sun Jul 27, 2008 06:00 PM
Try to be patient with yourself. You only just started dancing and it wouldn't be unusual for an adult starter to take many months before being comfortable balancing on demi-pointe. This balance takes a whole list of skills and a lot of strength. Placement may be just one word but it's a hundred little adjustments that take time to develop in your muscle memory. Really knowing how to engage your turnout muscles can also take a long time. So just keep practicing every day and one day you'll surprise yourself!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By miss_step Comments: 90, member since Sat Jun 24, 2006
On Sun Jul 27, 2008 09:01 PM
I've had 3 classes a week for almost 4 years and still find balancing on one foot on demi-pointe challenging. Give yourself time...

Also, pay attention to how you are losing your balance. It will give you clues on what you need to adjust (falling backwards? maybe your weight isn't shifted forwards enough. Falling sideways? Are you pulled up or are you sinking into your standing hip?).

I've also lost weight recently and wonder how much losing weight is affects one's center of gravity (it must, obviously). Maybe when you reach and maintain a stable weight, it will be easier...
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! (karma: 2)  en>fr fr>en
By YellowFairy Comments: 418, member since Sat Jun 21, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 02:34 AM
The balancing on one leg in demi came almost like a revelation to me. I don't know if your weight affects it or not, but in any case, you've lost 30 lbs. Congratulations! So, here's what has helped me understand balance quite a bit - ed.fnal.gov . . .

Take a look at this document about physics and how it is related to dance. Specifically, the diagrams on page 4 & 14 have really affected the way I think about placement and balance. Depending on where the hips are lined over the FULL demi can really enhance your ability to balance. One of our teachers from Ballet de Marseilles would say, "When balancing, most people are like trees. The problem is, you try to keep your balance by reaching out with your branches when you really should be pushing down with your roots."

Pulling up is very essential, but if aren't pushing through your full demi, aligning your center of gravity over the point which your demi contacts the floor, it may prove to be a harder task to balance. That center of gravity, your abdominal core, should also be strong and tight. Pilates can help you isolate your core and control your center of gravity so that you can place it where you need for balance.
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By Dancingmummy Comments: 353, member since Mon Jun 09, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 09:25 AM
Yep, pilates is the way to go! Core strength. Abdominal muscles. Being only three months since child birth, i feel your pain! But just a week of pilates conditioning and i'm doing better.
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By miraclefrmheavnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2064, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:00 AM
I'm using my Pilates for Weightloss for Dummies DVD and I sweat like crazy doing that. It's a good workout and then I do more stretching when I'm finished with it. It is a good thing and it's very gentle (although some of the floor work is hard. I just skip that part and do stretches in between as she's doing the harder exercises), or sometimes I do do it. It all depends on how I am feeling at that moment in time.

You can do it! It's wonderful. Something I also like to try to help me balance is doing an arabesque while holding onto something and then once I have my toes braced on the floor to hold me on standing foot. I let go and try to hold it. I'm getting better. I just need to use my toes more as suction cups to the floor. Never knew that until recently. LOL!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By emmaleex99 Comments: 681, member since Mon Jun 09, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:53 AM
working on abdominal strength helped me balance wayyy better. also, one thing they tell us in marching band when we have to march backwards on our toes is to squeeze our butts.

sounds silly, but it helps keep you centered and stops you from flopping around. :]
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By jenna_dance Comments: 777, member since Thu Sep 20, 2007
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:04 PM
yeah - hold your centre

your core is where its at for balances. Also, focusing above your eyeline (not straight up, maybe a foot taller than you on the opposing wall) will also help. Don't move your focus around either, it creates havoc with my already temperamental inner ear.

I think balancing in retiré is hellish. There are days when it's like "yeah, easy peasy." other days though, I'm like where's the barre guys
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By odile53 Comments: 1913, member since Thu Sep 06, 2007
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:35 PM
All of the core exercises help a lot, as well as working on flat with your weight correctly distributed over the balls of your feet. That will help you get used to the placement.

Warm up first, and then start doing lots of frappes, battements tendu, and ronds de jambes en terre on demi pointe at the barre at home (kitchen counter for most of us,) keeping turnout and a correct placement as you do so. Engage your core. Then face the counter, and do several reps of releve with one foot in sur le coupe de pied. Essentially, you are going to be doing a mini-barre. Do this on non-class days, and you should start to see some results soon.

Congratulations on the weight loss, and more importantly, taking measures to improve your general health. You will enjoy the rewards!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By pelerrojamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1125, member since Fri Mar 18, 2005
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 07:58 PM
Thanks for the tips and encouragement, guys! And the reminder that I'm only just starting! Now I'm more familiar with the basics, I'm starting to push myself on the things I'm struggling with. Balance seems to be my biggest issue but apparently it's a big issue for everyone!

I looked at my feet today and I actually have quite high arches and I do try and pull up to the full demi-pointe (although I'm overweight I'm actually pretty fit). I've been wondering why none of my class mates seem to be having balance issues (I know I shouldn't really compare but I can't help it) and most of them don't seem to be all the way up so maybe that explains it. Is it better to go for the balance on a lower demi-pointe or to keep pushing myself on the full?

I'll also be checking out the pilates and the presentation on physics was great. Thanks to my fellow adults!

And to the person who asked my age - I'm 23. So it's not like I'm ever going pro, lol. I just want to have fun and be the best I can be!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By Dancingmummy Comments: 353, member since Mon Jun 09, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 09:11 PM
Good for you! I'm so glad you want to dance for better health and fun. Ballet is an excellent activity!
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 12252, member since Fri Aug 27, 2004
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:33 PM
Here's a simple little exercise you can try: Place yourself in first position. Then lift up your heels to demi-pointe. From there, try shifting your weight over to one foot while lifting the other foot just an inch or so off the ground. Then lower your foot back to the ground and shift the weight over to that foot and lift the other one off the ground. Basically you are shifting back and forth from foot to foot, all the while getting used to the weight transferring from two legs to one leg. The idea is to practice this and over time increasing the duration that you remain on one leg. You should be holding on to something while you do this, but as you increase your endurance for one leg holding your weight you can start to let go and balance. The foot in the air is still just a little bit off the ground. Then you can increase the duration of balancing, then you can increase the distance of the foot off the floor.

This is a great way to:

Increase the-load bearing ability of one foot
Practice pulling up while on one foot
Feel the transfer of weight onto one leg
Gain strength overall

You can do this in any position - 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th.

Happy dancing! :)
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By miraclefrmheavnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2064, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:44 PM
Edited by begstretcher2008 (197101) on 2008-07-28 22:46:50
All of these are really good answers. Thank you everyone for answering, but I agree with pelerroja. What we both are trying to know (I believe) is, is it still safe if we are on a low demi-pointe (meaning our heels are barely off the ground) on one leg and working our way up to full demi-pointe? Or should we 'force' ourselves to stay up on full demi-pointe after the weight transfer? I, myself, am totally unable to do this.

I just watched this on Lisa Howells' tonight too about demi-pointe, and it is virtually impossible, especially for me and being a larger woman to not lower my heel down on the weight transfer.

Isn't that what you were asking too Pelerroja? If not, I'm sorry that I misunderstood. But that was what I thought of your question.
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By YellowFairy Comments: 418, member since Sat Jun 21, 2008
On Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:30 PM
I don't think that a low demi point is ever good really. In fact, from experience, it's much harder to balance and even harder to turn on a low demi point. Just think of your foot as a line. The higher you are on your demi, the straighter that line is. The lower you are, the more skewed. You couldn't turn a top in place if it was angled.. it would fall. However, when it is straight up and down, it will turn much more easily.

Don't worry, once in a while, when I am balancing on demi point, I lose balance and lower my demi all the time.. I just force and push back up from my lower demi. It's better to lower your demi and from that low demi to push back up to your full eleve than it is to fall out or put both feet on the ground.
re: Argh! I cannot balance on one leg on demi-pointe. Help! en>fr fr>en
By Nicolemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1262, member since Sat Sep 03, 2005
On Tue Jul 29, 2008 09:23 AM
If you have to catch yourself in order to stay up that's fine, you just have to work at it and soon you won't have to put the other foot down to stay up. It's not that it's not safe, it's just kind of counter productive. My teachers like us to see which way we're falling off. (You'll fall to one side more than any other, like back or forward or right... etc.) Try to fall the other way and it should kind of balance you out. I'm not kidding, this was the only way he could get me to learn to balance on one leg releve passe!

Another one of my teachers says we think about holding too much. Once you get there don't think "Oh my Gosh. I have to STAY here. Stay. Stay. Stay. CRAP Why am I falling?!?!" You should think of it as a movement. Hold for a while, but don't be stuck there. Ballet isn't meant to be posy it's fluid.

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