So you got the claw… and other bad habits…

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So you have the claw… It’s not the worst thing in the world. Actually, maybe it is… If you don’t know what I am talking about…. a lot of Balanchine dancers are accused of having the claw… It is basically a distorted version of the Balanchine’s hand…. I don’t know if it is because of the way SAB teaches young students how to hold their hands from a young age, or it is because somewhere down the line someone made an impromptu decision to change the shape…. I don’t know. But, this really has nothing to do with the criticism of the “Balanchine” hand… Actually… I am talking about tension…

So, usually, the claw is a result of a Balanchine dancer holding a lot of tension in the hand. Some dancers get the pointer finger, some get cheeseburger hands, some get spatula hand… Regardless, a lot of dancers hold tension in their hands… As a result, the tension distorts the line… Whether it is the breaking of the wrist or the tension in the fingers our hands play an important role in the ballet. Hands complete the line and largely create or direct the negative space the line creates. How to get rid of hand tension? Shake your hands out and get hand massages… Also, put the tension somewhere important… Like your core.

Holding tension in the wrong places creates for the most awkward things:
1. double chin- for dancers who hold their tension by locking back in their neck.
2. Ginchy foot- usually a dancer with good feet pulls their arch back while doing a hard jump, which makes no sense because they have good feet…
3. Splayed ribs- dancers who don’t hold any tension in their core like they should, have a tendency to splay… (I had a really hard time with that… plus having a hypermobile back didn’t help the cause)
4. Drowning face- dancers who don’t breathe usually result in drowning face, or they finish dancing and are hyperventilating and need their inhalers… Oh and some of these people hold tension in their teeth by biting down really hard or clenching their jaw shut… No shade or anything… but I would hate when a particular dancer would come off stage and be like, “I can’t breathe, I need my inhaler” and make this big scene, and cause all the dressers and crew backstage… even though this happened every performance…. like seriously…. I get asthma is a real thing… Totally understand it… but this particular dancer (and you probably know someone like this) would create the most drama out of this… dancers who dance at a higher elevation you totally get to be dramatic because that is like death….
5. Man shoulders… some dancers hold tension in their traps and shoulders which cause a really distorted neckline and unusual muscle build… I think dancers with this issue have an easier time turning, but I could me wrong…
6. Quad Grippers- this is actually really bad for you… gripping of the quads is, well just wrong…. and prohibits technique… and causes thick thighs…. so never a good thing… You probably will need to stretch out 100 times more than most, get massages, and have to start ballet 1 again and work properly… This is the hardest habit to break.
7. Tongue Sticker Outer- Yup… there are those dancers who stick their tongues out to improve concentration…

So- if you are holding tension in places besides your hamstrings, core or back… You need to go get a massage. You probably should also get into lower level classes and focus on where you are holding tension and correct it. It sounds crazy, but tension in the wrong places causes you to work ten times harder than someone who is properly working… Tension in the wrong places is never a good thing… So, get into lower classes and correct your bad habits.

In other news… my Leading Ladies of American Ballet Theatre will be auctioned off by ABT. There are only 6 prints left to purchase… So if you live in the US and would like one, just click the image… Sorry international… these shipping rates are kind of killing me… I will look into it more, when I am not sick.

Leading Ladies of American Ballet Theatre
Leading Ladies of ABT

I am sick with what my best friend is calling bird flu- mostly because I have this weird sounding cough.

Also don’t forget to follow me on instagram to see more of my doodle! @aballeteducation


a ballet education


2 responses to “So you got the claw… and other bad habits…”

  1. Ginchy foot! Now I know what to yell at my students on Sunday. Or, well, what to yell at those who aren’t getting, “Point through the whole foot!”

    …I do try to yell *nicely,* of course 🙂