Why do our our dancers struggle with holding their relevé? This is an ongoing question we often ask ourselves and an aspect of training that we continually try to improve upon with our dancers. It is also one of the most important and crucial elements necessary to progress. Whether we are dealing with lack of core strength, placement issues, sitting in one’s hip, weak ankles, not pulling up or a whole host of other possibilities, below is a sure fire, challenging exercise to help young dancers find their balance in relevé. Plus, it’s fun!
Here, dancers will begin to understand how to self-correct and make the minor adjustments necessary to hold the position for an extended amount of time and train themselves to make it muscle memory, where the body and the brain work together to achieve consistent positions through practice and self-awareness.
Part I: Have dancer stand in relevé fifth position, arms in fifth. Right foot in front. Make sure they are in a supported sous sous position with thighs tight, hips rotated, tailbone facing the floor, core engaged, ribs closed and weight equally distributed on feet, on top of the legs.
Part II: When dancer is stable and is holding position, have them extend the front leg to a low 45 degree front arabesque, all while maintaining the relevé. This will force them to counterbalance and make the minor adjustments necessary to maintain the progression, whether it be pulling up on the supporting leg, or engaging the core more, supporting their port de bras, etc.
Part III: When the dancer has achieved this position and feels comfortable, have them ronde de jambe the leg to the back and hold the low back arabesque position, still maintaining the relevé. Close in fifth relevé with leg in back now.
Part IV: Reverse exercise, back to front. Repeat 2-3 times. Repeat other side.
Progression or Variation: Change port de bras positions. Change head position and focus. Extend the leg to 90 degrees. Developpé into the extension from relevé fifth. Try exercise with eyes closed.
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