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  1. #1
    Member Taslin's Avatar
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    Default Level Changes-need help.

    Grrrrrr. I have trouble with the things that i coming into BD i wouldnt have imagined. I can seriously master some harder technical moves but i have gotten really stuck on things that seem and look so simple as shoulder shimmy's (i have gotten help, they are coming along and there are threads on here about it), my arms, and now...Level changes.

    Yes i do have somewhat bad knees. Nothing serious, no surgeries or whatever just pain and some cracking IF i do not watch my posture. I do watch my posture now more than ever since i am intensely dancing, but from "pampering them" i have no strength to do simple level changes where you bend while doing a move such as mayas, omis, or etc. let alone dance down the ground, bounce and then dance back up-which i adore and want to do! I dont have the 1. strength 2. balance 3. when im off balance i hurt my knees.

    Rachel Brice recommended squats, squats until fatigued and then one more. What about balance? Do you ladies have any imput for how to improve balance for example im getting stronger but im wobbly leaning forward back, or just looking like a bowling pin about to fall down. Also i cant stand from off of the floor quickly or gracefully. where you put one knee on the floor and step up-it takes me forever compared to the other dancers and i look like im surfing on the way up.

    So far i have squats , ankle strengthening exercises in my bag of help tricks. Oh yeah, lunges hurt my knees.

    Advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member goddessyasaman's Avatar
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    I have good balance because I do martial arts and a bit of Ballet, try getting into a martial arts like tai chi, and look into Ballet just some of the practice. If you can't do this then just try small balance training like standing on one foot only a little bit at a time, well when I teach my students I teach them Balance and Grace, So I teach them How to walk and change levels in the beginning so they get good training time in, but not every teacher goes over balance enough, I also have some what bad neens, but really you just need to let them rest whenever you can.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Mya's Avatar
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    i have a bad knee as well .... chondromalacia patella on the left knee, level changes also hurt me, what i tend to do is when i'm practising, if i know that i'm going to be doing it ALOT, i give it extra support with a band and that does help me. i only do that if i'm going to be doing it alot though because you do want to give the knee a chance to get stronger, especially if you wear costumes where your knees show and you can't sneak a bank under your skirt.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Is it possible for you to do some leg practice in water? I have no experience of this, but I am thinking that you might be able to strengthen your thighs and the muscles that hold the knee in place, without putting to much strain on the knee itself?
    Or get a short private lesson with a personal trainer or a physiotherapist. It could be worth the cost.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taslin View Post
    i have no strength to do simple level changes where you bend while doing a move such as mayas, omis, or etc.
    Ok, here's where I venture into territory that is best prefaced with a "your mileage may vary" warning sticker:

    Squats, to me, are darn useless for my dance. I've asked three personal trainers about how to do these properly, and they've all agreed that I AM doing the movement correctly, but it has NEVER helped me with the kind of strength you're talking about.

    What DID help me was plies. I know it seems like the same movement, but it's not. Doing modern dance style plies in parallel position helped me develop the kind of strength you're talking about -- but if you don't use it, you lose it, so to speak, so you kind of have to keep doing them or lose the strength benefits.

    I actually really like this dvd for the kind of exercises that would help you with your goals:

    Body Motion :: All DVDs :: Cheeky Girls Productions

    Here's a book with some good strengthening exercises based on problems ballet dancers face:

    Amazon.com: Dancing Longer, Dancing Stronger: A Dancer's Guide to Improving Technique and Preventing Injury (9780916622985): Andrea Watkins, Priscilla Clarkson: Books


    let alone dance down the ground, bounce and then dance back up-which i adore and want to do!
    This movement is accomplished through using the legs, but also seriously engaging the "core" abdominals and thinking of never "stopping" the motion, but allowing it to be a gentle flex and straighten of the legs. A lot of people stop the movement when it gets to the bottom, and then you've lost the muscle -- "momentum" (I guess that's an okay word).

    Again, the dvd mentioned above has exercises for this.



    Rachel Brice recommended squats, squats until fatigued and then one more.
    She learned that from Suhaila, and it's one of those big controversial issues with the method. I think a LOT of the effectiveness of the squat depends upon other muscle strength and how you're built. I can do Suhaila's (and Rachel's) squats all day without fatiguing the muscle group that is actually supposed to be targeted. Also squats help develop strength in a particular set of angles of contraction, but focused and directed plies will develop a greater (and stronger) range of motion, working the muscles both concentrically and eccentrically, which (in my opinion) is what's needed for smooth descents to the floor.

    What I've noticed is that squats seem to help a lot of dancers on the DESCENT to the floor, but a different muscle activity is what drives the ASCENT up from the floor, and I've never seen squats help with the ascent.

    Most students I've met have fewer problems descending and a lot more problems ascending. What we need are exercises to work the muscle groups responsible for the ascent -- and I don't know any particular specific ones. Any trainers want to chime in?


    What about balance? Do you ladies have any imput for how to improve balance for example im getting stronger but im wobbly leaning forward back, or just looking like a bowling pin about to fall down.
    A great deal of your balance has to do with alignment and what's going on in your "core."

    Two tips:
    1) Keep your core engaged and stable as you plie or descend. Keep everything pulled in and up, and engage the kegels. When you're ascending, think of straightening the legs rather than "lifting" the upper body upwards. It's a small thing but it seems to really help some people.
    2) Keep the spine straight. Don't let the butt tip backward or the torso tip forward.

    Also you might try having a barre or chair or some method of support within arms reach as you practice. Don't pull yourself up with your arms, but have the support there in case you fatigue or start to fall.

    General balance issues can also be from poor ankle proprioception. The exercises on the dvd I mentioned help with that -- as can simple standing on one and two leg exercises. The book linked above gives ankle strengthening exercises, but keep in mind that if you're having a problem standing in one particular position, just actually STANDING there with good posture and alignment is a great way to help those balance issues.


    Also i cant stand from off of the floor quickly or gracefully. where you put one knee on the floor and step up-it takes me forever compared to the other dancers and i look like im surfing on the way up.
    That's a strength issue, and it MIGHT help to use the barre or chair -- but again, as a support and NOT a way to use your arms to pull you up.


    Advice?
    Personal trainer. If you show them the movements you want to do, and ask for exercises to help build strength for those movements, they can set you up with a pretty specific routine.

  6. #6
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I have lifelong knee problems that have steadily worsened over the years. It is an inherited weakness and not due to injury or lack of physical conditioning. I simply don't do squats, lunges, or anything else than hurts them. Period. It's not worth it. Bad joints are bad joints and I've just learned to live with my limitations.

    For balance, I teach my class plies, modified ron de jambes, and a few other exercises borrowed from ballet. I also emphasize posture and keeping one's eyes up- so many people try to look down at themselves while practicing instead of at the mirror and it always throws them off balance.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goddessyasaman View Post
    I have good balance because I do martial arts and a bit of Ballet, try getting into a martial arts like tai chi, and look into Ballet just some of the practice.
    Yes to ballet but I DO NOT recommend using marital arts to learn balance for BD. I had martial arts training when I was younger, I was quite serious about it in fact, and I presented a whole new set of problems for my teacher when she tried to teach me movements and posture. Yes martial arts teaches balance but it is a whole different set of movements and your center is very "grounded". Bellydance is all about being light on your feet. Martial arts teaches to never put yourself in a position where you can be knocked off balance. Bellydance is all about shifting balance and "toe work". The entire class would be following a movement or step change and my feet would "stick" to the floor because that was what they were trained to do. I had to shift to deliberately and consciously dancing in "cat stance" just to keep up. Now I'm back to doing gooey grounded movements and I'm running into trouble again. I'm fine while doing them but my transition...

    No martial arts training for balancing in BD it is the completely wrong posture/movement.



    Ok, now about knees. I have similar trouble too and squats aggravate it rather then making it better. What I find works for me is first a good warm up and second strengthening the leg muscles through practicing floor work and the afore mentioned plies. Good luck!

  8. #8
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    What good information on marttial arts, Ariadne! Thank you for insight into what the heck is going on with one of my students who is a devotee of karate.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Interesting! So, I guess I am not the only one who doesn't "believe" in squats, but who does think pliés help and are lighter on the knees.

    I actually don't have knee problems, but whenever I do squats, something feels odd. Nothing hurts, and I know the correct technique and pay attention to it, but something about the way my hips and knees are aligned make it so that my squats always look weird, and I feel like if I do them with heavy weights I will always be just one wrong move away from an injury.

    My husband is a big believer in squats, and I am sure if you do squats with heavy weights you can gain some serious strength on those legs (and back, and core), but on the other hand I think certain body shapes are very injury prone when doing squats. My mom, who is shaped a lot like me, got seriously injured doing squats with weights, so that makes me think I should trust my instinct.

    My legs aren't very strong, but I do feel that ballet is what has helped me the most with strengthening my legs (and my core), as well as improving balance, which I don't naturally have much of, either.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Fencai's Avatar
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    I told my trainer at the gym about my BD classes, and he added a balance exercise in there for me. He makes me do it, and then when I get balanced, he changes something.
    So, here's what he has me doing currently.

    take a weighted bar (He called it a balance bar and said there are ones with different weights in them) and hold it in both hands in front of you.

    Take one leg, lunge back with it. Not too deep you want to keep your front leg at a 90 degree angle and with your knee safely positioned over your ankle. as you do this, bring the bar over your head

    then, as you start to rise, continue to bring your back leg (the one you just lunged with) up so your foot is off the floor. He made me bring my foot to about knee level. and slowly lower the bar back in front of you

    then, keeping your back flat, bend at the waist forward at the waist and try to touch the floor with the bar and keep your foot off the ground.

    raise back up using your abdomen muscles, and bring the bar back to your waist and your foot back to the ground.

    Do it 15 times each side. One leg will be easier than the other. Ive found it helps a lot on balance and it doesn't bother my right knee (which I totally blew out back in 2001.)


    and i ADORE squats. Those are my favorite weight lifting exercise. I LOVE them! I can get really deep with them, and have been told by several trainers that I have impecable form. Even with my old knee injury, I am still able to do them, as long as I watch my form and do them properly.

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