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Preparing Chaine Turns For Ballet Dancing in Pointe Shoes

Dianne M. Buxton

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Beginning at the barre, your postural plumb line, turnout and general placement must be correct and strong. It doesn't matter what kind of body you have. Posture can be correct, turnout can be held regardless of your flexibility, and placement can also be correct. I'm just saying that to encourage you. I know it is discouraging if others can do ballet more easily than you. If you are not flexible enough to get the legs extended above 90 degrees without losing placement, you do your best, and work on gaining strength so that you are not straining.

You see, once you get on pointe, any tiny incorrect ballet position is going to throw you off your pointe. You can struggle and overcome that, but you don't have to, you can fix anything.

For chaine turns, rise onto demi pointe in first position, sideways to a mirror. If you are standing straight, neutral pelvis, neutral spine, and turnout held, that's a good position.

Can you turn your head to the mirror to see yourself without tilting? If not, you need to do some stretching and relaxing for your neck muscles. You do this by tilting your head slowly, letting the muscles stretch a little, for three deep breaths, and then slowly bringing your head upright. 3 times 3 times a day, each side. Also, take a deep breath and then turn your head to one side, exhaling. Then try to turn a little farther, being careful not to tilt. Slowly bring it back to the front, and do the other side. 3 times, 3 times a day. Relaxing your neck is going to help with your spotting.

Being weak in your posture or turnout is going to make you tense your neck and shoulders, therefore throwing off a good turn.

Once you have established that your posture is good, and your turnout held, do a series of chaine turns along the barre, keeping your legs tight in first position. You do not step out. Practice this until you get the feel of it. This establishes correct muscle memory.

When you do the turns in the center your preparation will give you the push to get started. If you chassee into it, or step out from a plie, you then close the legs and they do not come apart at all after that.

There is always ongoing discussion of when someone should start ballet in pointe shoes. Regardless of age, ballet history or growth plates, your basic technique has to be strong, not just your feet. If you have to wait another six months or a year to correct your technique, you will enjoy pointe work a lot more once you start, because you will be able to do things. You won't be struggling.

Once in pointe shoes, chaine turns are a lot easier, as far as the turn goes. It's easy to spin. But your position and how well it is held will determine whether or not you can stay in a straight line, control the speed, and end the sequence gracefully.

Watch your favorite ballerina do chaine turns - they are tight, quick, and end quickly. You'll see how her ballet positions are perfect - and her control is perfect.

With understanding and practice you can do it too.

Click here and find out how a would-be ballerina and men in ballet get exactly the right fit in ballet shoes and pointe shoes, prevent dance injuries, get The Perfect Pointe Book, The Ballet Bible, and details about classical ballet technique. Dianne M. Buxton trained at The National Ballet School of Canada, The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and Toronto Dance Theater.


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