3 Ballet “Flaws” And How To Use Them To Your Advantage
We all have an image in our heads of what a ballerina looks like: tall, rail-thin, hair in a bun, perfect feet etc. And while that may be the status quo in the professional world, it’s an almost impossible standard to live up to in the real world. And that’s ok! The goal of adult ballet class is to derive benefits from the art form without all that pressure! Consider three perceived physical weaknesses common among adult students and how you can use them to your advantage.
1. You have straight feet.
Feet with high arches are often called “banana feet” for their gorgeous curves. Though these feet look stunning in a pair of pointe shoes, extreme arches can be a beautiful cover-up for weak ankles. Flexibility is great as long as it’s paired with strength and stability, and overly-arched feet present a downside. While it’s true that the exact opposite, flat feet, are not considered aesthetically pleasing, having a mediocre arch is not as bad as you would think. Not sure which category you fall into? Try this: Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Point your toes. If your foot slopes downward and your big toe touches the floor, you probably have some amazing banana feet. But, if you can run your palm from your shin over the top of your foot in a straight line, you most likely have a good “straight” foot. You can still manage a pointed look, and you can get directly on top of your box on pointe, without spilling over the edge.
2. You’re short.
They say good things come in small packages, right? In fact, petite dancers have an advantage over their taller peers. At their best, they have greater speed and agility because they have less to carry. One of the best adult dancers I had ever seen, Jennifer Mabus, barely reached 5 feet and was making a name for herself in the Dallas dance scene. She covered space faster than anyone else and could really put on a show. I don’t remember anyone else on the stage, but I remember her. Of course, there’s the argument that tall dancers are not challenged in these areas. Po-tato, Po-tot-o. The point is, shorty can dance. A few key points all short dancers should remember: (1) Don’t slouch. Maintain perfect posture and alignment. It will make you appear taller than you actually are, and (2) Exude confidence. It’s a tough crowd.
3. You’re thicker.
Again, in the professional world, a stringent ideal is enforced. But in adult ballet, you’re welcome to join no matter your shape or size. Keep in mind, you can’t dance if you’re overwhelmed with health problems due to poor choices. You also can’t dance if you’re malnourished and weak. “Skinny” doesn’t equal talent or strength. (Look at the above photo. She’s beautiful! She is by no means overweight, but she has some amazing, solid legs!) Every student should strive for balance. If you combine your hard work in class with healthier choices, you should notice a change in your overall strength and ability. This doesn’t mean you can alter your inherent body frame – some are built thicker than others. Instead, it means you will shed extra pounds, gain muscle, and be a better dancer.
So you don’t look like the cookie-cutter ballerina? Who cares?! The most important thing is that you are healthy, and you recognize where you can make improvements based on your unique circumstances.
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