Anna Greenberg of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, photographed by Jayme Thornton for Pointe.

Where Do You Hold Your Tension? 6 Top Trouble Areas and How to Ease the Strain

All dancers have their go-to tension area: shoulders that creep up towards the ears, a hand that becomes a claw, or feet and ankles that grip. Yet "Just relax" can be the hardest correction to apply. We spoke with four teachers for their tips on releasing tension throughout the body—and how it's all connected.


The Core 

Jayme Thornton

Most teachers agree that your core should always engage. But that doesn't mean just sucking your belly button in and holding it. Jaffe finds that students who do this are not really pulled up and ready to move. "They're still sitting in their backs, and can't breathe."

"The core is a dynamic set of muscles," Jaffe explains. "It's a circular feeling." Saland describes the pathway as "an ellipse that goes in reverse: down through the back of the spine, beneath the sacrum, under the pelvic floor, behind the pubic bone, back up the front to the roof of your mouth."

Jaffe uses the example of a tendu to apply this idea. "Circle in your core to lengthen your leg down and out through the floor. To get your hips high enough for your leg to come back in, pull up through that circle, all the way up through the center and out the top of your head."

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