You must have good balance to do anything in life. You must have extraordinary balance to dance. Learning how to enhance your body’s awareness of its joints and muscles is a key to developing this skill.
What is proprioception?
From Wikipedia: proprioception is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement
In order to dance well, a dancer must have a sense of balance in movement and be able to balance in any position. We need to feel where our muscles, joints and bones are in relation to each other. In the ballet classroom we tune into our body so that we can control it. Standing turned out is a difficult assignment!
Here are some suggestions to train your proprioception which enhances your balance.
Romberg balance test
Romberg’s test, Romberg’s sign, or the Romberg maneuver is based on the premise that a person requires at least two of the three following senses to maintain balance while standing: proprioception (the ability to know one’s body position in space); vestibular function (the ability to know one’s head position in space); and vision (which can be used to monitor and adjust for changes in body position).
For Dancer Level 1-balance test
- Stand facing a chair or barre and lift one foot off the ground without letting it touch the other leg. Close your eyes and lift your hands from the chair or barre.
- Balance for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat on the opposite leg.
- As you gain stability balancing barefoot, you can progress to doing this in pointe shoes (while standing on flat) for more of a challenge.
- Add a plié to the challenge.
- Add a plié and straighten with eyes closed. Open your eyes.
This improves proprioception, the sense of your position in space. This plays a major role in ankle stability, balance and overall body awareness when you’re dancing.
Level 2 balance test
Repeat the above with one foot sur le cou de pied in a turned out stance. Close and open your eyes in 10 second intervals. See if you maintained not only your balance, but your turnout! Try it again in fondu.
Level 3 balance test
Add a pillow or round cushion to your routine. You do not need to close your eyes. You can find a balance disc and the two small balance pods as shown in the video at the end of this post.
The next challenge is how to move well and keep your balance. This is called kinesthetic awareness. Some people have better command of this sense than others but dance does enhance it.
Wikipedia: The word kinesthesia or kinæsthesia (kinesthetic sense) strictly means movement sense, but has been used inconsistently to refer either to proprioception alone or to the brain’s integration of proprioceptive and vestibular inputs.
Leg strength, proprioception and batterie video
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Solid pointe work will not develop without a heavy does of proprioception, dedication and strength.
Do the exercises in this post and they will help get your there or just help your technique in general!
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