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jamquint1

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Reply with quote  #1 
Anyone else have a dancer who is absolutely not flexible and has to work her butt off for every bit of it? My daughter, being a mini, this is hard because the crazy, contortionist moves are in right now. Can the inflexible dancer still do well?
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Kayleemom9

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Reply with quote  #2 
Dance is mainly for fun so I would not worry about it.
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meatball77

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Reply with quote  #3 
Move to ballet.  They don't care if you're a contortionist. 

My daughter is 13, she got her three splits this year, she has no amount of extreme flexibility at all.  Her teachers now are just worried about her tight hip flexors which she's working on.  She is very successful in ballet, getting into competitive summer intensives.

Competition dance rewards extreme flexibility in a way that is not needed in working dancers (unless you're doing circus work).
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jamquint1

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Reply with quote  #4 
Ugh. I wish she would move to ballet. She wants to stay at the comp studio.
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sarahannexo

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Reply with quote  #5 
How much of a mini are we talking (age?)? Where are her problem areas?
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jamquint1

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Reply with quote  #6 
She's 7. Back flexibility, hip external rotation, tight hamstrings. I mean, it's not terrible. She does have her straddle and right splits flat. She's getting close to having her left split flat. Definitely no oversplit.
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sarahannexo

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Reply with quote  #7 
She just needs to stretch regularly. 7 isn't a cut off point for flexibility. My DD is nine and doesn't have a straddle, she's still doing fine in elite, but stretches to try to get closer.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #8 
Mine was never flexible and she still works at it daily at 20.

Know that the contortion trend is just that, a trend. It's not favored as they get older and the judges want to see more than step, trick, step trick. To me, it's a scary tend because the potential for long term damage is very real. I suspect it isn't behind taught properly at many studios. There are actual contortion classes in some places where it is taught safely.

At 7, my DD also did not want to switch to ballet when I offered/encouraged. There truth is that she did not really have ballet yet and did not understand what it was really about. When she was a little older, she saw the light, seeing past the excitement and glitz of competition. It
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #9 
She is a mere baby in the dance world, be patient.  It can take years to increase flexibility safely.  
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funkychika03

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Reply with quote  #10 
I have a 7 year old son in his fifth year of dance, however this is his first year at a new studio, and his first year competing on a mini team.  

My kiddo is NOT bendy (he's not overly athletic either, lol) and was scared to death he would be the "weakest link" on his team due to his lack of flexibility.  He did not have his splits, or a heel stretch when we started at the new studio (in August), now he has his right split, and a heel stretch. He is a kid who practices every single day and dance is life for him.  I always (and still do) worry about how will he do not being the most bendy kid. I quickly came to realize that a good choreographer will highlight your child's strengths. So, he may not have a scorpion, or a leap, or whatever else--he does have amazing stage presence. He has faces for days. So he does really well performing, and they play that up as much as possible.  He was given a split and a heel stretch in his solo and that has really made him work hard for those things. I'm not as worried about his flexibility these days, he's still young and if he keeps working hard we will see some improvement! 


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prancer

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Reply with quote  #11 
Of course!  Flexibility is only one of many dance skills.

Offering a broader perspective, I really think studios and competitions need to regain a bit of perspective about minis in competition. My daughter is 14 now.  Five years ago she started competition dance at age 9.  The average age of her first competition group was 8, so she came in at the top of the petite age group.  In her first three years, I think we saw ONE mini group at a competition - petite groups were the youngest groups at her studio and at the comps.  Now competition teams regularly begin at the mini age group, and clearly the reason for this is the opportunity to make more money for the studios, competitions, and conventions.  

So, when 5 years olds are dancing competitively, they don't have very much dance technique because they are so young.  Because they can't be judged on dance technique, things like flexibility and acro are overemphasized for the younger kids.  I am concerned about what this will mean for the long term health of our youngest dancers, and for the long term interest of dancers who may not be as athletic as the tricksters they think are the best dancers of their age.  Being the best acrobat does not translate to being the best dancer in the long run. (Believe me.  I had a best acrobat who has had to work very hard against some of the heavy musculature her early gymnastics training piled on.)
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #12 
DS has some anatomical issues that meant he never got any of his splits.  His DT capitalized on his strengths.  He could leap and he could spin.  He was also an amazing tapper and great at ballet.  Flexibility is not the be all end all in dance.  The concentration really should be on proper technique.
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Julieg

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Reply with quote  #13 
My daughter is not flexible.  She only ever had her right splits.  Her left splits were close, middle splits were nowhere even close and what little back flexibility she did have was lost when she broke her elbow.  Luckily, she is a performer and her coaches learned to choreograph around her limitations.  She had no problems placing in the top ten with her solos.  She also was awarded many scholarships at conventions over the years.  At first her lack of flexibility was frustrating but as we saw all the girls in her age group injuring themselves doing over-splits we started looking at it as an asset.  We saw at least one girl per season injuring themselves to the point of needing surgery and months of therapy.  One year it was 3 girls.  I don't think it's a coincidence that all the girls with over-splits also had torn labrums.  Some, but not all, eventually made it back to dancing.  Maybe if your daughter isn't scoring well with her solo you should skip doing them until they can score her more on artistry, musicality, etc.  My daughter didn't have a solo until age 16.  If she had had one earlier I have no doubt they wouldn't have scored well.  But, once all those other girls were hurt and the coaches had more time to choreograph specifically for her, she did great.  
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nodrama15

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Reply with quote  #14 
The best dancer at our old studio never had tricks in her solos, and she wasn't super bendy...what she did have is amazing technique....and she did very well at comps...I always keep that in mind.
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NCKDAD

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Reply with quote  #15 
By today's competition dance standards my daughters are "not flexible"... yet compared to many dancers including professionals they are actually flexible. They have to work at it and are not super bendy, but they are more than flexible enough (all splits, etc.)

Never once has their flexibility been negatively commented on by a judge, etc. 

SO yep, trickless inflexible dancers here (will be 12 and 8/9) for competition season... and almost always place. There are comps that still value dance and technique. 

I have said it before and will say it again: a well executed and well choreographed dance with good technique and performance will out do any flashy trick-filled dance any day. Unless that trick filled performance has those previously mentioned elements.
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elastigal

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Reply with quote  #16 
My DD9 is not flexible either. She's working hard on her splits but still doesn't have any of them (I think she's close to her right straddle). But what she does have is strength and balance when she focuses. I was watching her one night last summer on the monitor while she was in lyrical class and she had to lift her right leg up vertically as far as it would go with pointed toe and hold it while balancing on her left left leg while holding her hands together in a heart shape - she's the least flexible kid in her mini group but she held that pose the longest and was the most solid while doing it. I was impressed. So what she lacks in flexibility she makes up in body strength and I'm hoping her DT's will recognize that. I have to admit that I get really bored at comps where I see nothing but trick filled solos - I'm not a fan of acro solos, seeing tumbling passes, to me that's not dance that's gymnastics. We have one mini in our group who is doing an acro solo again this year but apparently it's been choreographed using a lot of lyrical movement so it's being classified in the Open category this year since it's not straight up acro. We do have one sr. dancer on our team who apparently didn't make an Advanced group this year because she was deemed not flexible enough - this girl is strong and flexible, beautiful to watch, but she's no bendy pretzel and I guess the DT for this particular Advanced group wanted nothing but bendy pretzels. 
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pirouettemom

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Reply with quote  #17 
Is flexibility really not that important for ballet? It seems to be necessary for Russian ballet at least, along with 180 degree turnout. I know dancers who received the comment that they need to work on their flexibility on their YAGP scoresheet.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #18 
That was me, I was the inflexible dancer. Had to work very, very hard to gain flexibility. In my day contortion wa snot big but not being flexible impacted the quality of your dance, especially in jazz for leaps and kicks etc.

All 4 of my girls have inherited my tight muscles. DD2 is a high level gymnast and does A LOT of work on her flexibility at home, but she is doing fine because she is very strong. Lack of strength is actually far more of an impediment than lack of flexibility at the higher levels.

DD1, DD3 and DD4 all dance, and all three excel in Acro for their age. They are tight and fast, so tumble very well, but our teachers don't focus on contortion. Which I think is great because unless a kid has hypermobility syndrome it's just not great for their bodies. They all have to stretch at home a lot of develop and maintain flexibility. But it's just become something we do in the house. Everyone stretches while watching TV etc.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirouettemom
Is flexibility really not that important for ballet? It seems to be necessary for Russian ballet at least, along with 180 degree turnout. I know dancers who received the comment that they need to work on their flexibility on their YAGP scoresheet.


It's a different sort of flexibility. No chin stands or scorpions in ballet. Just "normal" flexibility, which is still far more than what a normal athlete needs!
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mom24

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Reply with quote  #20 

Assuming no physical issues, almost every kid CAN get their splits.  The trick is that you have to work on them every single day.  My kids used to say they stretched daily, but until I actually stretched them daily for about a month, none of the four kids was anywhere close to having any of their splits.  At the end of the month, all four had left and right, and two had straddles.  I should have just made myself do it sooner and avoided the stress!  [smile]  I just think maybe they didn't really know how to get those muscles stretched well.

After your kid has warmed their muscles and stretched themselves:  have your kid get in a tall kneel.  Stand behind them, with your knees on either side of their hips so they can't wiggle side to side.  Have them lift one leg straight up in front.  Grab that leg and pull it up til they say stop.  Hold for a while.  Lower a bit and flex the foot (you pull foot to flex).  Pull back up til they say stop.  Let go of foot but hold leg up, and gently push YOUR knees forward (which pushes their hips into the split).  Hold for a while.  Lower some and swing leg to side.  Lift to tension and hold.  Gently step toward foot, which extends stretch into inner thighs.  Lower a bit and go back to the front.  Repeat on the other side EVERY SINGLE DAY.  

My kid with tight hip flexors also needed to sit in a pigeon stretch for a few minutes each day.

I'm not a huge fan of crazy contortion, but splits are achievable.  Go for it!

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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirouettemom
Is flexibility really not that important for ballet? It seems to be necessary for Russian ballet at least, along with 180 degree turnout. I know dancers who received the comment that they need to work on their flexibility on their YAGP scoresheet.


180 degree turnout is not the norm though. Not even amongst professionals. Just another one of those myths that don’t do anyone any favors.
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nyklane

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Reply with quote  #22 
So my kid IS a bendy kid. She’s 8 now. But that did not mean she didn’t have to work for every single move. She had to stretch every day for a long time to get her split. And her straddle, and her other split. And her backbend.. etc etc. She practices and works on them every day - and if she stops for a period of time, she has to work a little to get them back. She is hyperextended too. Now - we don’t do over splits - I don’t encourage them and our teachers do not teach them. She’s has some ballet privates to correct some of her hyper extension in her moves as well.

So just to say - the bendy ones have to work at it too!!

Jacaranda - it’s funny that you mention your kids are good tumblers, mine is not yet - all the balance and strength moves are her forte - but the back or front handsprings are not! She’s too bendy.. and she does not have that stiffness that makes those easier. Not worried about her getting those skills right now - but it’s funny.. the grass is always greener!
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