……That is the question

Every five years or so certain stylistic changes happen in the dance community that filter down to studios and end up served, on mass, to every eisteddfod stage in the country. Even though it’s original intention or use has evolved into something else, it sticks around at the studio level for years often taking on a life of its own and not necessarily being performed with the understanding of what it was originally use for in the first place. A bit like Chinese whispers!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love strong flexible dancers and the beautiful line they can create, but when did a stretch become a dance step?

I’m talking about the Leg Mount people.

That stretch we used to do after barre work and before coming into the centre.

I guess it can be a good display of balance, strength and flexibility but PLEASE train it and if you are going to use it, do it sparingly so your ‘dance’ routine doesn’t resemble one of the compulsory elements in calisthenics (no offence to the calisthenics community).

I still use it as a stretching component in class and when done correctly it can really open out the hips and teach good weight placement ready for Develope and Grand Battement. Here’s how I work it at the Barre.

- Stand on your supporting leg on slightly turned out leg (don’t say foot or the students will just turn out their foot and leave their leg rolling fwd)

- Start like your doing a Battement Fondu and hold your foot under the heel with your arm on the inside of the leg so that you can use your elbow and upper arm to encourage the lifted leg to open out more effectively.

- If the dancer is really inflexible then just ask them to straighten the supporting leg making sure their weight is over that foot and everything is aligned before trying to extend the lifted leg.

- If they are stronger and have more flexibility then extend the leg up and out to second maintaining that alignment and make sure they don’t ‘pop’ their hip and lift the bottom up.

- Slowly work on rotating the leg and working for more flexibility in second.

Please focus less on how high that leg is and more on the alignment of the supporting leg.

- Get that right and the dancer will gain the flexibility anyway plus their technique will improve with it.

Don’t forget to do both sides.

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