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Stretches and Excersises

Here I have put together some good stretches and excersises that I've heard from my teacher and other dancers to help alot with ballet.

The Arabesque Stretcher

Lie on your sommach streight as a pencil. Then push your back up (with your arms) and back so that it's curved. Try to go back as far as you can without hurting yourself and see if you can get it to where you are able to look at your legs. Be sure that your muscles are warmed up before doing this stretch! When you feel that your back is warm and stretched out to the max, stay lying on your stomach and lift push your torso up so that you are in a right angle position, then try to lift your legs one at a time slowly and turned out. Do any other back stretches you like while you are still stretched out. Then you must be sure to end with this stretch: Lie on your stommach and pull your knees in under your chest keeping your arms stretched out in front of your head. Then slowly curve your back inwords until you finally are sitting up.

Arabesque Back Strengthener

First you need something that you can lie ontop of, like a table or a long bench. Lay stommach down on the bench/table, but from your waist up you should be hanging off the table, so that only the lower half of your body is actualy on the table. Have a friend hold your feet down. Now put your hands on your shoulders and, (with your tummy and back muscles) lift your whole upper body as far as it will go. You should now have your upper body streight up and down while your lower half is still lying on the table. Do these lifts in sets of three, but on the third one hold the position for a few seconds. I like to do the stretch above this one right before I do this excersise. Doing these every day has improved my arabesque ALOT! If messing with the table os too much of a hassle for you, then just do this one lying on the floor. See if you can lift your upper body without a friend holding your legs.

Pointe Strengthener

This one's good for non-pointe dancers who want to build up there strength so that they can get en pointe. And it's also good for dancers already en pointe. You start out by standing on the edge of a stair, (or some kind of ledge) with your heel hanging off, so that it's only the ball of your foot that's on the step. Push your heel down as far as it will go to give your calf that nice stretch. Then slowly releve and slowly put it back down into the stretching position again. Do thirty of these on each foot. Make sure your not sickling! Sickling weakens your ankles. Roll right up through the center of your foot.

The Froggy Stretch!

I love this one just 'couse it's called the froggy! hehehe! No, I also like it because it improves your turnout. Lye on your stomach with your knees bent outward like a frog, keeping your heels together so that someone standing above you would see the shape of a diamond. The goal is to get your feet to touch the ground. But you HAVE to keep your pelvis flat on the floor! Otherwise you'd be cheating. Some people have naturally good turnout and can get there feet and pelvis all the way on the floor like a breeze! But people like me have to keep working at it. The good thing about this stretch is that after you get used to it, it does'nt really hurt that bad. So you can be reading a book or watching TV while doing the froggy! And when people ask you, "What n'the heck are you doing?" you just tell them that you're doing the froggy, and they'll leave you alone, hoping your mind sickness is'nt contageous!

Leg Streches

FRONT: I always do these ones before I do any of my splits. Lye on your back, and I always make sure I have something to hold on to from the side, (like the leg of a table or a couch). Now pick up the opposite leg of the arm thats holding on to something. Leave your leg bent for this part. And with you free hand, hold on to the arch of your foot and push your knee into your chest. Keep the bottom of your foot parallel to the ceiling. Stay in this position for about ten seconds and remember to keep your bent leg as close to your body as possible. Now stretch your leg. Get it as streight as you possibly can while still holding your leg close to your body, and hold this position for ten seconds also. Keep changing between the two positions, (bending and stretching) until you've done each position about five times. Switch sides and do the same thing with the other leg.

SIDE: The side is pretty much the same as the front, except you do it to the side! So when you hold your foot, you hold it to the side of your body for both the bent position and the stretched position. Everything else is pretty much the same, you keep switching, and hold each position for ten seconds. To finish off take your hand off the thing you were holding onto, and lay both your hands out away from your body, flat on the floor. Keep your leg absolutely streight and slowly lift it up to the ceiling then lay it accross your body to your opposite hand. Remember to keep both your shoulders flat on the floor. Stay there for a few seconds and do the same thing with the other leg. If you do these leg stretches every day you are sure to have much better extension in no time. Just remember to be warmed up and stretched out before attempting an intense stretch such as these!

Straddles to the Wall

I am able to do the splits with either my right foot in front or my left foot in front. I can do both. But I still can't do it with both legs out to the side, (straddles). So here is a good way to improve upon that. Lye on your back and scoot your bottom up against a wall so that your in the shape of an "L" with your legs lying virticly against the wall. Now slowly pull your legs apart until they are in the furthest straddle position you can get to. Don't hurt yourself, just get far enough to where you can get a good stretch. I like this one because the gravity gives just enough pull to stretch your muscles, and having your legs on the wall lets all the blood rush to your head, keeping you refreshed. Stay there for at least thirty seconds. You can also do the straddles sitting up right and do it against the wall that way. The good thing about doing it that way is that you can see how much closer your getting. It's your body, so you choose what you like best.

Inner Thigh Excersise

Lay on your side, and make sure your comfortable. Bend the knee, of the leg that's on top, so that it's pointing toward the ceiling with your foot flat on the floor in front of you other leg. Your legs should make this shape /\__ (roughly). Now lift the underneath leg (the one that's stretched out flat on the floor) slowly, and lower it to the floor again. Do this about thirty time before switching legs. You should feel a burning in the inner thigh muscles. That is the feeling of fat burning away, and muscles getting stronger!

Tummy Strengtheners

Wait, at least, an hour after eating to do these excercises, and wait another hour after doing them to eat.

1) Lie on your back, knees bent, with the feet flat on the floor. Grab the inside of your thighs, lift you elbows toward the ceiling and slowly lift your chest, trying to fold it on to your tummy. Let go of your thighs and hold you arms parallel to the floor. Almost your whole back should be flat on the floor, except your shoulder blade area. Think of trying to roll your chest and shoulders into your torso like a scroll. Hold for 100 slow seconds.

2) Do the above excercise only this time hold your left leg streight up toward the ceiling during the whole excercise. If you feel ambitious, you can also hold your right leg out, parallel to the floor. Hold for 100 slow seconds, then do the same thing with the right leg.

3) Do the same excercise, but now your going to hold BOTH of your legs up. As you get stronger throughout the excercise, slowly lower your legs, keeping them perfectly streight. Don't get them too low too quickly. It puts stress on your lower back.

4) Now keep your legs in the air and put one leg in front of the other with pointed toes like you would in a sote in fifth. Roll your upper body in like in the above excercises. Now you quickly switch your legs like in a changements, putting your right leg in front then your left leg in front, then your right, left, right, left and so on. Try to do it as quickly as possible, like you would if you were jumping in the air. While your legs are quickly changing, they are also slowy lowering and rising, lowering and rising.

Quickly improve your arabesque!

1. Find a table or something sturdy that stands about three feet from the ground.

2. Stand with your back to the object, and place your stretched leg ontop, keeping good turnout in your supporting leg and in your working leg. Pull up through your tummy and keep your back well supported with your hips square. Make sure you're doing everything correctly for your arabesque. (It is okay to hold on to something for ballence.)

3. Slowly and carefully lift your leg off the object, keeping everything well placed. When that leg refuses to work any longer, switch sides.

4. When it starts to get easy at that hight, start using a higher object! (How exciting!) If you are having trouble holding your back up, you need to strengthen your back muscles. Refer to arabesque strengthener.