One of the most frequently asked questions I get from dancers as well as one of the most requested technique tips I get during private coaching sessions and intensives is “how do I improve my extensions' ' and it’s a completely fair question! As dancers, we all strive to achieve that perfect length and height, particularly in adage. I still remember how excited I was the first time I finally achieved a 6'o’ clock penaché!
So if you’re wondering how to get a 180 degree développé or how to get your leg even higher in arabesque, here are 4 tips to help you improve your extensions!
One of the most important things to remember is to spend equal amounts of time stretching as you do strengthening, as good extensions require a great deal of both! Think about it for a second, you can be the most flexible person in the world, but if you don't have enough strength, you won’t be able to hold your leg in place so focus on strengthening your quads, adductors and hamstrings. One of the best ways to do this is to add some resistance with power equipment like a Power Band. We have a whole host of amazing strengthening exercises available on the Claudia Dean App, and more specifically, exercises that will strengthen the muscles required to nail your extensions like attitude devants with powerband, high retiré lifts with extension and hip flexor pulse with the powerband.
Even though extensions appear as though they’re happening through our legs, don’t underestimate how hard our back and core are working to help lift and stabilise, particularly our Erector Spinae. While stretching and strengthening the legs is an important factor, make sure you pay equal attention to your back and core too. We have a whole series of back exercises available on the Claudia Dean App including pulses on all 4s, swan lake lifts, upper back lifts with the Powerband and so many more, which all require minimal equipment, making them easy to do at home or if you get a break during class.
One of the best tips I have for nailing extensions is ensuring you’re staying turned out to keep your hip joint in the correct alignment. Good turnout is a combination of flexibility and strength - plus it’s one of the most fundamental parts of ballet, required for most exercises! For this reason, I created a whole series of exercises on the Claudia Dean World App dedicated to the hip flexors including froggie starfish, open my hips and dead ant 2 legs (don’t let the name scare you, it does wonders for the hip flexors).
So if you’re ready to take the crown and become an Extensions Queen, remember it’s a journey and while it won’t happen straight away, if you consistently show up and put in the work, I promise that you will see results! Don’t forget to take before/after photos, which you can log on the Claudia Dean World App to help track your progress.
Love CD xx