5:04 PM

“If you’re not grounded EVERYWHERE, you’re not grounded ANYWHERE.”

I have a crazy teacher. Her name is Eileen Juric. She’s what I’d call “nutzo-bananas crazy” but she’s completely brilliant. She’s the one behind Ballet Barre None, and you can check her out on facebook and on her website. I’d totally recommend watching every video she has on youtube because it’ll all change your life.

“If you’re not grounded everywhere, you’re not grounded anywhere.” This is one of her favorite sayings. Grounded means you are attached. You are not moving. You are cemented. You are rooted, like a tree, and no matter how hard the wind blows, that tree isn’t going anywhere because it’s grounded. So I’m going to blow your mind and give you another example of opposition in ballet.

The more grounded you are, the more you can do. This means: the less you move, the more you can move.

Think about it.

You’re in fifth position. And you’re not just hanging out there, your legs are stretched and your heels are pressed into the ground, and your toes are pressed flat against the floor. You can do anything from that position, literally.

You’re in arabesque in plie, and your weight is distributed correctly on your foot, your toes secure and your hips are lined up. your leg is reaching and elongating back, your arms are reaching and elongating front. You are grounded. You can stay there forever. Or until you decide to releve. Which you can without falling, because you’re grounded.

I do an exercise with my kids where we’re laying on the floor in first position, demi plie, with the feet flexed and the arms out to the side. It is amazing how hard it is for them to hold still and ground their bodies. If their arms are grounded, their feet are moving. If their feet are secure, their head and shoulders are up. They have a hard time grounding their body completely. But the thing is, if they’re grounded in their head and their back, but not their hands and their shoulders, they’re not completely grounded, so they’re really not grounded at all.

How can you learn to be grounded in your dancing, and what does that look like?

Try this combination. From 5th right foot front at the barre
1 - demi plie
2 – slide the outside foot to 1st
3 – stretch straight
4 – slide the front foot to 4th
5 – tendu front
6 – tombe to a lunge
7 – demi plie on the standing leg, squeezing both legs back to fifth,
8 – stretch both legs straight.

Repeat En Croix, with a tombe to the side in second position.

then repeat the whole combination but change count 7 by keeping the back leg straight and  stretching the front leg, and compressing the working leg to fifth with straight knees.

Here’s a video breakdown.

Then try this combo. This is a simple combo that my dance classmate took home to us from UNCSA’s summer ballet intensive quite a few years ago. I use it often. It will show you whether or not you are grounded.
From first, in the center
1 – degage side
2 – degage side
3 – degage side
4 – releve
5-8 – (Repeat with left foot)
1 – degage side
2 – degage side
3 – Releve
4 – degage side
5-8 – (Repeat with left foot)
1 – degage side
2 – Releve
3 – degage side
4 – degage side
5-8 – (Repeat with left foot)
1 – Releve
2 – degage side
3 – degage side
4 – degage side
5-8 – (repeat with left foot)

Here’s a video breakdown.

Advanced students can do the same exercise with jumps instead of releves, adding a demi plie before the count.

Now it’s not all about the feet.

Being grounded in the shoulders means the shoulder knobs are rotated under and pressing down on top of the “bird-cage ribs.” and they’re pushing continually, not just put there once. If they’re constantly pushing, they’re not going anywhere.

Being grounded in the back means the back is elongated and the stomach is pressed against the spine. If your abs are engaged at all times, your core isn’t going to fall away.

Being grounded in the hips means both legs are rotated equally and the pelvis is elongated down. You’re not going to lose your turnout any time soon.

Being grounded in the ankles means the legs are pulled up and the inner ankle bones are at the same level as the outer ankle bones. You’re standing up and you’re not going to fall in on your foot.

Being grounded in the toes means you’re pressing down, not curling them in or under. You have push power.

But it (“it” meaning ballet) only works if you’re grounded EVERYWHERE. If you lose just one of those, you’re done for.

So go down the checklist, or up the body. start with the feet (or the head, whichever you prefer) and make sure you’re secure in your positions, and your body isn’t moving. Then once nothing is moving, you can move with freedom! The less you move, the more you can move.

Side note. I asked one of my students what “grounded” means. She said “it’s where you can’t watch TV.”

I laughed.

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