Ballet Exercises - Keeping Shoulders Down

by Missy
(New York )

Ballet Exercises - Keeping Shoulders Down

Hi Odette,
I have a question and concern about my daughter she is 15 and she is on a competition team and is doing a pointe solo. Well she is always being corrected by her teacher to press her shoulders down and she was also corrected for this last year. My daughter and I were doing research on how to fix this problem and the response we read said it was tension in her shoulders, which she has a lot of!!! Any suggestions for her on what she can do to help her work on and eliminate this problem area?? We would love to have this fixed before our first competition March 1st :)
Missy & Bryce Ripley


Reply by Odette
To:- Ballet Exercises - Keeping Shoulders Down

Hello to you both!
Thanks for your message, it's great to hear from you. Well, it sounds as though you are both focused enough to already be doing your best to fix this so I have to think of something 'out of the box' to help you even more.

The basic feeling of your shoulders should not be tight and tense, even if you are being corrected to press them down. Try not to interpret that as pushing or squeezing the shoulders, because this will just create more tension. It is more a feeling of length, pull up and the whole body working together to create the right posture for your shoulders to be well placed.

I know that on some dancer's structures it may feel harder to place your shoulders down, so if it is a structural issue then it could always be a little something which you do have to work on. This is ok though, because with time you will learn how to correct it and how to deal with your own physicality to make it better.

I would also reccommend pilates or yoga, which focuses a lot on elongating certain muscles and creating more of a sense of flexibility through the body. If you look at specific exercises in pilates that focus on the upper body, it may help build that extra strength to keep the shoulders placed down.

I particularly like the Darcey Bussell pilate exercises, which are exercises that are already popular with many professional ballet dancers. You can see my ballet videos page to get more info on her DVD.

I can already think of one exercise which may help the shoulders and upper body -

1. Lie on your front with your arms either just down by your sides, or at a 90 degree angle so your hands are by your head and elbows level with shoulders.

2. Engage your posture altogether including your glutes and abdominals.

3. Slowly pull the shoulders down entering into your scapulas.

4. Lead with your head and gradually lift it up, like something is pulling it out and up.

5. Just bring your upper body up slightly, so your shoulders and chest raise off the floor.

6. Keep breathing and lower back down into the lying position.

.... I tried to break it down to explain here, but it is a very simple exercise to just feel your back and get the sensation of keeping the shoulders placed into your body.

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts. Always happy to help!

Best wishes,

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