Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Importance of Dance

     For thousands of years, dance has been considered a classic art. Not only does this art hold longevity in history, but it is also born into every human being. Even babies begin to jiggle and hop to the sound of music at a young age. This improvisation of natural movements feels harmonious to the body and mind, and has been proved to increase brain activity and boost self-esteem. Dance is one of the most widely enjoyed sports, being able to express your personality and worldview through artistic emotion.
      While many may stand by the belief that dance is not a sport, the physical activity exercised while indulging in dance is just as much as more competitive, rigid sports such as football and baseball. These sports must follow narrow rules and are unbalanced between the body and mind. Dance is simply an artistic way of staying fit, and increases balance and spine alignment. A multitude dance forms, such as ballet and hip-hop are proven to release endorphins. Endorphin is a combination of endogenous and morphine, meaning a morphine-like substance originated from the body. These hormones bring a sense of power and control over the mind. Given the extreme physical exhaustion dance classes bring, it can only be concluded that dance is, in fact, a sport.
Irish Dance
          Depending on his personality, the dancer may choose Irish Dance over the cool, crisp, isolated movements of Animation. If he desires a more upbeat, festive, historical tempo, than the slow-and-steady protocol of ballet, Bollywood is the best choice for him, combining the fun and bouncy movements with ancient Indian tradition. Some of the widely enjoyed dance forms include: ballet, contemporary, musical theater, clogging, time period dance, ballroom dancing, Latin Heritage dance, African Jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, rhythmic gymnastics, and krump.
Elena Podymova as Death in Romeo and Juliet.
     All forms of dance maintain the Greek Ideal: combining mental and physical activity into a harmonious balance. Also, all forms of dance can tell stories or bring morals to the audience. Contemporary almost always tells a story of love or sadness and other extreme emotions, while hip hop and krump show a competitive and exciting side of dance, bringing viewers to the edge of their seats. Ballet is a common form of dance that is performed in both public and private shows that is appreciated by an audience of all ages; whether dancers, or dance fanatics, or simply ones who soak up the beauty of all art. Classic tales such as Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, and nearly every nursery rhyme can be interpreted through EVERY style of dance. 

Fred & Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
     The bravura sentiment of dance is what sets it apart from all other sports; making it one of the most pleasant of them all. The innate impulse of dance implemented in every human being can be directed into structured dance by taking classes of any of the myriad of dance styles. Retaining the Greek Ideal, dance brings balance to both the dancer and the audience, and thousands of people will gather at each show to pay homage to one of the oldest arts.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Understanding Turnout: Anatomical Tips to Success


     I have created a couple of posts about turnout, but today, we are going to take a trip deeeep into anatomy class, Magic School Bus Style. So get your Ms. Frizzle wig on and put on your x-ray earrings. 

     Has your instructor ever told you: "Turnout from the HIPS!" or used the terms "turnout" and "hips" in the same sentence? I never quite understood what was meant by this until one of my teachers gave us a lesson on turnout from an anatomical perspective. She used the book Inside Ballet Technique, which used diagrams of the hips to demonstrate proper turnout. 

A Mental Battle

Perfect turnout is one of those seemingly impossible mountains that every dancer strives to climb. Among it is 32 fouettés en tournant, 180 extensions, and a perfect arch. And here is where I am going to get painfully honest: if you do not want to push yourself to the limits of sanity, you are not cut out for ballet. Ballet requires constant diligence and attention. This is perhaps what makes it both appealing and appalling. I can't count on my fingers the number of times I have cried over something relating to ballet. It is an emotional sport as well as the physical.

Now, let's just stop for a moment and think about why we dance. It's not easy. It doesn't feel "comfortable". Sometimes I would rather be sitting on the couch watching The Hunger Games and stuffing my face with Oreos than doing petit allégro. So why do we do it? The answer isn't as simple as you think. For anyone who TRULY loves dance, they know the answer. For those who are just doing it, well, just because... *channel inner Yoda*... search for it, you must. Every dancer may have a different answer, and mine is because I strive to challenge myself in every way possible and master what I begin.
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Now that the guilt trip/crying bout/contemplation of life is over, let us begin today's lesson in anatomy.


     The first thing to understand is that some people are born with hips easier to turn out. See Figure 1. In Picture 1A, a normal hip is shown. 1B displays femoral anteversion. This means that the toes point inward, or the feet are pigeon-toed. This makes turnout difficult for the dancer, and the knees naturally point forward when turning out from the hips. 1C shows femoral retroversion, which is the exact opposite of anteversion. The dancer may have a natural turnout of up to 180 degrees. (From DanceAdvantage.net) In fact, Gayanne Grossman, associate professor of anatomy and kinesiology at Temple University suggests that “most dancers have a maximum rotation of 55 degrees in their hips.” [see this 2008 article from Dance Magazine]. This definitely plays into the individual turnout of dancers.

Figure 1


     Do not, however, mistake this as an excuse for not having good turnout. This simply explains why turnout is difficult for some dancers. Turnout is increased by the flexibility and strength of the three ligaments surrounding the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. These three ligaments are called the iliofemoral ligament (which connects the illium, the upper part of the pelvis, to the femur), the ischiofemoral ligament (which connects the ischium, the lower part of the pelvis, to the femur), and the pubofemoral ligament (which connects the pubic bone to the femur). All three of these become stretched in exercises like grande battement derriére, and become relaxed in exercises like grande battement devant. 

     The iliofemoral ligament stretches across the front of the joint, and is also the strongest ligament in the body. This ligament helps restrict full arabesque. The ischiofemoral ligament restricts movements of the leg crossing the midline. The pubofemoral ligament restricts à la seconde.


Far too often, the gluteus maximus is used as the primary muscle of turnout. While it is the biggest muscle involved in proper turnout, the true ballerina muscles lie deep within. These six muscles are built exclusively through ballet and become a key part of a ballerina's technique. The sartorius muscle also aids in proper turnout.

Figure 2

I know that this quick study of the hip joint has helped me feel my turnout. Follow me for more anatomical summaries! I am more than happy to do the research!

Friday, October 26, 2012

11 things to make your day better.

i'm having a bad day today.

in the hopes that you are having one, too, i made this lovely compilation of things that make me feel better.

this guy got a text from a stranger and decided to play along with it! must read! I almost died from laughter, SO FUNNY.

1. read this.

I have never needed anything more

2. this t-shirt

Daily Odd Compliment

3. this compliment

Freshly washed ballerinas

4. this long-awaited ballerina meme


5. and this other one

23 Easy Ways To Instantly Make Your Day Better. 14-18 I AM DYING

6. these ways to make one feel better

Shakespeare insult kit

7. this insult kit

8. note to self: never go on a ride with Janice.

9. this cracked me up. i'm still laughing


10. THIS. trust me. just go. watch it.


well, i hope that made your day better!

geez louise.

oh boy.

i'm a mess.

i have abandoned you once again.

so i ask to trespass upon your hospitality in hopes that you would accept me once again as the loving author of this bloggety blog.


1. I had a birthday. And let me just say so far this new year is pretty much NOT what I was hoping. DON'T GROW UP, CHILDREN! IT'S A TRAP!
2. I quit ballet for Irish Dance.
3. I quit Irish Dance for ballet.
4. I went camping.
5. I got an abhorrent case of poison ivy. Nasty nasty stuff.
6. I decided to put a little magic in my life and start blogging again!

so...... yeah. life of a ballerina. pretty uneventful, yet most agreeable.