The first time I told my beginner students to think about lengthening their waists was during a fast battement degage combination. I noticed that they had a tendency to lift the side of the hip when they performed fast degages in first position. When they did this, it resulted in a shortening of the waist on one side, sort of a side crunch. I asked them to look in the mirror and do the exercise so they could see for themselves if they were lifting the leg instead of brushing it against the floor.
"Ohhh!" they all said when they saw they were indeed shortening their waists. But when they concentrated on brushing the foot against the floor and visualizing l-e-n-g-t-h-e-n-i-n-g their waists, they began performing the degages properly.
I do love those moments of revelation.
Then I realized there were many other applications for the visualization of lengthening the waist. Here are a few of them with some handy tips!
For a helpful look, I include this photo. I have no idea where it originated but I found it on a blog called Bobby Pins and Lip Gloss:
|(Cropped image from website)|
1. Releve - whether you are rising en pointe or in flat slippers, on two feet or one, if you think about separating the ribs when you press down into the floor, you will find your balance easier to maintain.
2. Pirouettes - with the possible exception of turns in attitude, if you focus on keeping the shoulders down but lengthening and widening your waist, you will feel more lift in turn, as well as a more "floaty" feel.
3. Grand battements - each time you execute a big kick, especially devant and a la seconde, think about that strong core and how your sides are centered and long.
4. Adagio developpes - it's hard to hold yourself steady when you are moving slowly or when you don't have a barre to hold onto. Try to visualize your waist lengthening as you shift from two feet to one and bring the leg through passe and away from you to a full developpe. This will aid in balance.
5. Pas de chat - when we bring our legs up to meet in this jump, we often do the opposite: we bring the body down to the legs instead. If we concentrate on keeping the waist long and the ribs spaced evenly, it will be easier to stay aloft and allow for room under our hips to bring the legs up to passe.
Generally speaking, for jumps and turns, engaging your torso on the front, sides, and back will aid in ballon and suspension so if we keep the shoulders down but lengthen our waists and keep space between the ribs (no, of course you're not changing the position of the ribs in relation to each other because they are bones, but you are using this as a visualization), it will a lot easier to execute them.
Now get back to class and visualize! Maybe it will make you taller too! Happy dancing~