Your posture makes a huge impression, whether you’re on stage or just walking down the street. Awareness of your posture will help you project confidence and strengthen your upper back. That is why if you’ve been dancing ballet for a decent amount of time you would have definitely received this correction, to keep your chest up and open. But it’s very easy to get the action of this wrong. Our instinct is pull our shoulders behind and compress our back, which isn’t the aim of the adjustment. Keeping your chest up is supposed to give a sense of openness and elongation in your posture overall. The idea is to flatten both the chest and back evenly.
The easiest way to understand that action is to lift from the sternum. Your sternum is basically the long, flat bone shaped like a necktie in the center of the chest, serving as a support for the collarbone and ribs. It is also called breastbone.
If you spend a lot of time bent over books or a laptop its very easy to pick up the habit of dropping your sternum and hunching your shoulders forward, which not only ruins the aesthetics in your dancing but is also very unhealthy for your body.
Poor posture can also affect our energy output, make us look heavy and out of shape, cause stress, and cut off circulation. Continuous bad posture leads to weak muscles. Although many people believe poor posture comes with age and is unavoidable, there are certain changes to the way you sit and stand that can help prevent the development of spine weakening conditions, which is why as time goes by we have “old age problems” which is actually just a lack of strength to hold yourself up in the right way.
Posturing in a slumped or slouched position can also put added pressure on the vertebrae.
Many dancers struggle to stop habitually hunching their shoulders. Raised shoulders not only erase the look of a long neck, but also make it harder to correctly use your back muscles and core.
But posture is a habit, which means it can be developed.
Practicing the correct way to stand can have a tremendous effect on the alignment of your neck, back and shoulders, which is the key to beautiful ‘lines’ in ballet.
Many people make the mistake of holding their head forward and jutting out their chin. So whenever you’re standing, walking, or sitting, practice keeping your head in perfect alignment with your shoulders and keep your chin supported.
To avoid poor posture, we must train our bodies to stand, walk, sit, and lie in a position that puts the least amount of stress on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine, especially during movement. We should train ourselves to apply this control while we eat, walk or simply stand with a drink in our hand.
Watch your posture outside of the studio, ask friends to point out when you’re slouching, this will help train your back to support you even when you’re feeling tired or tense.
Don’t underestimate the subtlety of slightly sinking the sternum or proudly presenting the collarbones. As mentioned by Pointe magazine, the audience most frequently looked at the movement of a dancer’s chest when a dancer is enacting happiness or sadness. So keep the slouch at bay and always remember to maintain the space in your chest by lifting up so that you can have the right alignment and posture to develop your ballet technique and stay safe while dancing.