Teaching Tips

Ask Deb: How Do I Get a High Développé With Proper Placement?

Everyone in my dance class can get to at least 90 degrees in their développé with the correct placement, and a few of them can get to 120 degrees with the correct placement. I can only get my legs to about 45 degrees to the front and side before my teachers tell me that my placement is incorrect. How do I get my développés to consistently be at least 90 degrees and keep my placement correct?


Most dancers can maintain correct placement as they bring their knee to 90 degrees of flexion when the knee is bent, but once you straighten the knee, things can get tricky. The hamstrings stretch, while the hip flexors contract to bring your leg up. If the hamstrings are tight, they will pull your leg down as you straighten the knee. If this is the case, then you want to focus your energy on hamstring stretching.

Another thing that might challenge your développés is a tight iliopsoas. If you stand with a slight swayback, it's harder to keep your pelvis upright. In this case, you want to focus on stretching out the iliopsoas. That being said, the iliopsoas muscle needs to be strong enough to take your leg above 90 degrees. It's not unusual to find dancers with weak iliopsoas muscles who try to muscle the leg up by using the quads. Try some targeted iliopsoas strengthening to help this.

Lastly, what I would like to de-myth is the idea that dancers can keep their pelvis square without the hips lifting or tilting above 90 degrees. This is impossible! The hip must adjust for the change in leg height. The audience won't notice, though, if you can maintain an erect and upright alignment. Try imagining the spine lengthening upward as you lift the leg.

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail askdeb@dancemedia.com, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

To work with Deb Vogel in person, check out her summer workshop, A Dance Teacher's Retreat to Tuscany!

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.