In our Dear Katie series, Miami City Ballet 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!
I've been trying to improve my front développé, but I just can't get it higher than 90 degrees. I'm plenty flexible, and my side extension is pretty good. What am I doing wrong?
Flexibility is one thing, but being able to hold it is an entirely different thing! Start by focusing on your supporting hip. The more we obsess over the working leg, the more we tend to grip our muscles, which can keep us from accessing our full range of flexibility. Shift that focus to your supporting side, and you might find you suddenly have a few extra degrees of extension.
Often dancers distort their torsos in an effort to get the leg up in front. Not only does that ruin the line, it can also result in lower front extension. To avoid rounding your back, envision it arching—just slightly—as your leg extends front, and think of that opposite shoulder reaching for your working toe.
Strength exercises will also help you support every bit of flexibility you have. I know I always recommend Pilates, but it really is fantastic for dancers! If you incorporate a few Pilates exercises into your daily warmup, you'll improve your extensions in every direction.
For more of Katie's helpful tips and advice, click here.