The Height vs. Stability Trade-off

As I alluded to at the end of my last post, this is about my short conversation with wednesday evening ballet teacher.  There was a question that had been bugging me for a bit – in fact, I as I was having trouble sleeping on tuesday night because of the heat it kept circling my mind – so I told myself that I was going to work up the nerve to ask one of my teachers.

Some background info first: As I have mentioned many, many times thoughout this blog, my balancing (while in releve) is not that great at times.  Many other aspects of ballet – my overall coordination, flexibility, timing, –  have been steadily improving throughout my 20ish months of ballet. But my balance, in my opinion, is worse than the average beginner’s.  There is nothing that sucks more for me in class – well, I can think of a few things, but not any that have actually happened – than to be one of the first people to lose their balance on releve.  Then I looked around (using the mirror, I wasn’t obvious), and noticed that many of the other students’ heels were actually not very far off the ground at all.  And I though, “If I don’t go up all the way, I guess I do feel a bit more stable.” But when at the barre – and all those times that I actually do find my center of balance – I can go all the way up. “It’s a trade-off,” I thought, “of height vs. stability.”

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I happen to enjoy looking at – and making – graphs and charts for whatever reason…

But the questions lingered in my mind : is it correct technique? Which is a bigger priority, the height (full releve) or being able to maintain stability for a sustained period of time?

This wednesday, I walked into class with my mind made up – I was going to seek an answer to my questions!

According to the teacher, if it’s not all the way  up it’s not a real releve.  Fair enough.  I’ve seen so many ballet recitals on youtube and while a high releve looks great – sometimes I almost forget they’re not en pointe – a not-so-high releve looks somewhat sloppy.

After explaining my issue ( the height vs. stability trade off), I asked if it was an ankle strength – or lack thereoff – issue.  She agreed that doing more ankle strengthening excercises would help, and  of course, more practicing. Which makes sense, because when I do my theraband excercises immediately before attempting to balance I have noticed that I’m more stable.

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A half-ass releve, heels only 4 in. off the ground. 

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A “real”  releve, or as real as it gets for me. This one was in first position.

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Releve sous-sus. My feet are too far apart, but I thought it was cool how I literally can’t see my right foot’s heel from this angle.

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And just for fun, a picture I took yesterday. Both my heel and toes are touching the floor and I was pushing up the rest of my foot off the ground far enough to fit my hand between my foot and the floor.  Just though it was a crazy thing to see my feet do, though I’m not claiming this is impressive or anything. This was taken immediately after finishing up theraband exercises.

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