An account of learning in Adult Absolute Beginner Ballet
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

We heard from one of our adult students, Molly, that her learning in UI Youth Ballet and Community Dance School classes had profound effects on her life. Working in class over multiple semesters has changed her understanding of her body’s mechanics and renovated the way she approaches movement and alignment. In a message to her instructors, Molly describes relationships she's discovered between her knees, hip joints, pelvis, and spine.

Thank you for the thorough explanation of hyper extension in class today. It was life changing for me. I had no idea I was hyperextending, but now I am hyper-aware that it is affecting my dancing, walking, and standing.

Today's class also helped me put together two ideas of body positioning/awareness that I had thought were in conflict. In grad school, I studied Alexander Technique, and one thing I remember is the idea of my hips being in line with my legs instead of pushed forward. I was also taught about the natural S curve of the spine. But because my knees were hyperextended, aligning my hips with my legs really meant that I was situating my pelvis further back and putting an unnecessary bend in that S curve (and unnecessary pressure on my lower back). In ballet, I have had trouble squaring the idea of [tilting the pelvis upright] with what I thought was proper Alexander Technique. It's been difficult for me to find that space in my lower back that is necessary for ballet.

Now, I see that with the adjustment of aligning my knees with my heels (i.e. not hyperextending), it's easier for me to turn my pelvis [upright] and find space in my lower back, and I can still maintain a slight S curve.

Wow! I'm going to be thinking about all the time now and trying to gently correct myself.

I look forward to the next class.

Thanks again,

This semester, veteran instructor Jason Schadt and undergraduate assistants Talia Howard and Paige Waller are working collaboratively to create a positive learning environment for students working on strength building, bodily alignment, and movement mechanics in the context of ballet fundamentals.