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 hip flexors are constantly sore. What am I doing wrong technically, and how can I ease the pain? I've tried stretching and massage, but nothing seems to help much.
It sounds like you're gripping your hip flexors without realizing it. To keep that from happening, think about standing nice and tall, creating an extra inch of space in your waist. Don't tuck your pelvis or arch your back; just lengthen. Work on maintaining that sense of length when you dance. Dancers tend to grip their hip flexors when they're trying to flatten the turnout of their supporting leg, particularly during steps like grands battements and développés. Don't let your pelvis tuck when you lift your leg.
Also, make sure you're massaging your psoas muscle, which is in your stomach area (a quick web search will show you exactly where). Tight hip flexors are sometimes due to a tight psoas.
My father's in the army, so my family moves all the time. It's hard to find good, consistent dance training when we're never in the same place for long. What can I do to make sure my technique keeps improving?
I just married a military man, so I understand what you're going through. When you're constantly moving, it's helpful to keep a technique journal. Write down all of your corrections. When you move to a different studio, reread your journal. If the teachers at your new studio are giving you the same corrections you've been getting all along, you'll have a road map for what you specifically need to work on.
Also, do a lot of research when you're searching for a new dance school. Read faculty bios, look at the class schedule, and see if there are any performance opportunities. Taking the time to find the right school is important.
I know changing schools can be scary, but in the end it might be a good thing for you. It's helpful to hear different people's opinions about your technique! Make a conscious effort to think of your frequent moves as opportunities rather than problems, and stay focused on improving each and every day.
I love pointe, but even though I've been on pointe for a year now, I haven't developed calluses on my toes—I just keep getting blisters. How can I get calluses to form? Or am I doomed to have blisters for life?
I feel your pain! I had horrible blisters before my calluses developed. They do take a while, but the exact time frame depends on the amount of time you're spending on pointe. If you dance in your shoes every day, your calluses will develop more quickly. If you only have pointe class once a week, it'll take longer.
If your blisters persist no matter what, visit a professional pointe shoe fitter. Your shoes could be too narrow, or too wide. Sometimes shoes that are too big create more friction, which means more blisters. Once I found my correct size, I almost completely stopped getting blisters—and the same might be true for you!
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