Many times a dancer’s flexibility develops more quickly that their strength; particularly in terms of leg extensions. While this delayed lack of control can increase injury, implementing exercises that balance the two components can increase the range of motion as well as help a dancer identify the muscles working and initiation of movement.
Below is a quick, effective exercise you can do with your dancers to work on developing arabesque and grand battement while helping them achieve increased strength and flexibility as well as proper hip alignment.
See you in the dance studio,
Part I: Have dancer stand with their back to the barre and hold on with both hands. Begin in parallel first position and have dancer come to parallel passé. As they begin to developpé the leg front, hold on to their leg and slowly lift the leg up into a stretch while the dancer presses down and resists against it. Have them release and rest the leg in your hands. Repeat the extension 3-5 times.
The focus for the dancer should be to hold and resist; understanding they are not gripping at the quad and feeling underneath.
Progression: After the final repetition, let go of their leg and see if the dancer can hold the extended position to the front on their own.
Part II: Repeat exercise in turned-out second position.
Part III: Repeat exercise in arabesque.
Part IV: Have the dancer stand at the barre in turned out first position and repeat 10-15 grand battement swings front to back. This will help to loosen the muscles they just stretched and feel the hips and legs working in proper alignment while supporting the control of the leg and using their flexibility.