In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
My extensions are totally uneven. I'm great to the front and side with my right leg, but can barely reach 90 degrees in arabesque, and my left leg is strong in arabesque but weak to the front and side. What can I do to balance myself out?
I had exactly the same problem—in fact, almost every dancer does! Most people are naturally a little lopsided. The solution is to develop both your flexibility and your strength. For your arabesque, focus on working the large muscles in your back, which will help you support every inch of the height you do have in arabesque. Odds are good that your left hip is tighter than it should be, too, which can limit your range of
motion to the back on the right side. Use a tennis ball or foam roller to loosen up that left hip joint, and you might find that your arabesque rises an inch or two.
Opposition is equally important when it comes to front and side extensions. So, to improve your leg height to the front and side on the left, work on strengthening your right leg and hip, and stretching and rolling out your left hamstring.
I've found that Pilates is especially great for the kind of back and hip strengthening that benefits extension. Explain the issues you're having to your Pilates teacher, and ask if she can create a customized set of exercises for you. You also might want to have a teacher or physical therapist look at your alignment, to make sure there aren't larger technical or physical issues to blame for your unevenness.