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  1. #41
    Member RayaDancer's Avatar
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    i love the dramatic element that backbends can add to the dance! i think most any healthy individual can do them, though the more flexible types will probably be able to bend deeper than others. it definitley is important to work on the core strength as well as quadriceps strength, since they (and the gluteals) stabilize the position you will be in. it is also important to recognize that the bend must be in the thoracic (upper) spine; any bend in the lumbar spine will cause some major compression and potential injury.
    im really flexible and i have to credit years of yoga practice for keeping me supple. Some great yoga postions were already mentioned for warming up the spine (cat cow and bridge, for example), but one of the best poses that helped me really get nice deep backbends is Ustrasana (camel) pose. It really lets you practice the correct posture for your back, but you are on your knees instead of standing, so there is no fear of falling on your head! then you can really concentrate on back postion and core stabilization.
    Also danurasana (wheel pose) and urdva danurasana (inverted wheel pose) can really work on back strength, but they may not be so easy for everyone... but it can be something to work up to.

    oh yeah, one more thing.... when you are already in the backbend and want to deepen it, use breathing techniques, and deepen on the exhale.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 02-11-2011 at 06:39 AM. Reason: merge posts

  2. #42
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onela View Post
    I returned to ballet in January (adult beginner was too easy, so I'm in a class with kids preparing for their Russian Society exams) and I just can't remember how to ballet backbend, I just can't activate the muscles in my back the right way. I'm having a hard time getting a nice curve in the top of my back, I can't place my arm right :/
    First of all, your ballet teacher should absolutely correct your backbend if it is wrong and if she doesn't by herself (which she should), point it out to her.
    Now if you have problems with the positioning when doing the backbend at the barre one side to the bar and the other to centre, because sometimes the shoulders shift and are not in a straight line anymore (I have that problem if I don't pay enough attention to my shoulder alignment when bending back at the barre), what you can try is face the barre and try a back bend whilst holding the barre with both hands in front you. as for the arm position itself - once the shoulders are correctly aligned - it should be somewhere where the third position is, but again you teacher should absolutely correct you!
    For activating muscles, the camel pose mentioned (see above post) is a great one! I actually don't do yoga and this was what my teacher told me to do, without me even knowing it's yoga, but it works great. the cobra pose also works great to wake up and strengthen the back muscles.
    hope this helped onela!

  3. #43
    Member onela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranya View Post
    First of all, your ballet teacher should absolutely correct your backbend if it is wrong and if she doesn't by herself (which she should), point it out to her.
    Now if you have problems with the positioning when doing the backbend at the barre one side to the bar and the other to centre, because sometimes the shoulders shift and are not in a straight line anymore (I have that problem if I don't pay enough attention to my shoulder alignment when bending back at the barre), what you can try is face the barre and try a back bend whilst holding the barre with both hands in front you. as for the arm position itself - once the shoulders are correctly aligned - it should be somewhere where the third position is, but again you teacher should absolutely correct you!
    For activating muscles, the camel pose mentioned (see above post) is a great one! I actually don't do yoga and this was what my teacher told me to do, without me even knowing it's yoga, but it works great. the cobra pose also works great to wake up and strengthen the back muscles.
    hope this helped onela!
    For clarification, she does correct me every single time- that's what makes it frustrating, no matter how many times she sets me up right I just can't commit it to my memory, mental or muscle! My current ballet instructor is brilliant, she's a stickler for good technique, that's why I chose her class I just still have no capacity to figure it out on my own yet.

  4. #44
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maria_harlequin View Post
    I was recommended yoga too...the bridge pose to be precise.
    This sure is a perfect pose. Hadia of Canada shows how to do these backbends using the right muscles and joints. But any and all teachers I've ever had will say the same thing - gradually work into it. Granted, I could do these easy as a kid but as we get older, there is less flexibility that comes naturally so it has to be treated differently.

    This is a great thread - I agree, backbends are sooooo cool

  5. #45
    Senior Member Ranya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onela View Post
    For clarification, she does correct me every single time- that's what makes it frustrating, no matter how many times she sets me up right I just can't commit it to my memory, mental or muscle! My current ballet instructor is brilliant, she's a stickler for good technique, that's why I chose her class I just still have no capacity to figure it out on my own yet.
    Well there you have a good start then! just keep practicing and try back stretching exercises and the yoga poses mentioned
    good luck

  6. #46
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    I can only answer a few of these as I am not in classes yet (though I do believe that will change soon).


    Now the questions:

    2) I feel confident I'm doing them safely. I've included back bends in the dance while I'm learning because I could do them before I started. As a child and teenager, I was a cheerleader and had gymnastic training. I use that training to do them safely. Even when I wasn't cheering, I've kept my flexibility up and haven't let that level of muscle development fall too much. It was easy to reassure myself I was fine doing them as I eased it into the dance, first with little lean backs, and working my way up to deeper ones over several months. Doing floor work and incorporating even a small back bend is a good way to help your bend deepen while standing.

    4) Listen to your body. Be conscious of what it is saying to you - you don't have to push it. Your body knows what it can do, and it will tell you what you are ready for. Stretch and warm up, as well as cooling down, are important not only to get your muscles ready to dance and to tell them when you are done, but also it relaxes them both before and after. Being relaxed and using your muscles correctly to control your body and bend are very, very important. Learn your body's internal language and you can gauge how far is okay to go.

    5) I have never known anyone that has been actually hurt during a back bend. But most of the people I know who can do them had that same training as I did as a child. When I first started cheering as a very little girl, I did get cramps in the muscles sometimes when we started learning bends, but I told my coach and she helped me realize what I was doing wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    I love standing backbends. Rachel Brice's popularity really brought them into fashion in the Tribal community, though there are plenty of examples of dancers from the Middle East doing them as well. (Nadia Gamal, for example.)

    <snipped a bit for space>

    Over the years, I've had emails from Shira.net users who have asked for tips on how to do them without injuring their backs, which is why I have an article on my web site with instructions and recommended exercises to build the appropriate muscles. And I do know of some actual dancers who have injured themselves by doing these backbends.

    So I thought it might be good to explore some questions surrounding them. Here goes:

    2. Do you feel confident that when you do a backbend, you're doing it safely, or do you wonder if you're putting yourself at risk? Or maybe you just haven't thought about it, one way or the other?

    4. For those who feel confident that you're doing backbends safely, what tips would you offer to other people who want to learn?

    5. Have you ever experienced pain after trying a backbend? Or have you injured yourself trying to do one? Do you know anyone who has?

  7. #47
    Member Taslin's Avatar
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    I have a question gals, it sounds funny but im being totally serious: does anyones big ole butt get in the way when they do a layback or am i the only one?!?!

    So im at the point where i can do a layback, feels like nothing. My legs and tummy muscles are not straining at all. I do a yoga and stretch routine just for this type of flexibility/strength. i always warm up-i even feel comfortable in it except for the fact that ......my butt feels like its competing with my lower back for space. The top of my thighs and lower back squeeze my butt. not pretty.

    I can do it, and appropriately, but the bulge doesnt look very umm aesthetically pleasing. If i dont go so deep-well then its not a layback. sigh.

    Maybe i wont do that move-or do it in a one peice. boo.

    Any one else find they dont look flattering in it, even if executed correctly?

  8. #48
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default You are doing it correctly!

    from the description you give, you do a very good backbend (and a safe one).

    just look at all the dancers who do the backbends in a deep way... they do the same thing!

    you focus on something that the audience does not pay attention to and this is funny, because it seems that you do a deep backbend but you do not pay attention to your overall picture!!!
    Last edited by walladah; 01-25-2012 at 09:58 AM.

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