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Ballet/shoulders down? Enough of this nonsense


Dear Dianne,

I read some of your articles and couldn't agree with you more. I'm having ballet classes for almost 2 years now. During this time, I heard some times the common ballet phrase "shoulders down", although not directed to me especially. But this phrase kind of depresses me. And I came to the conclusion that proper ballet posture has nothing to do with forcing the shoulders down. In fact I came to a lot of ways of achieving proper ballet posture and none of them involves forcing the shoulders. For example, lifting the shoulders to the ears, keeping the lenghtened posture while gently droping the shoulders. Or simply lengthening through the back of the neck like pulled by an invisible string. Also lifting the chest a little is another way. Drawing the abdominals in and up. There are many ways. I think that what really is the base of correct ballet movements are the abdominal muscles.

Hi Ciro. You are correct, and I see we already agree that to push the shoulders down in ballet class is getting to the problem at the wrong end of things.

Good posture, and strong core muscles allow a dancer to relax the shoulders and lift the chest properly. This also improves breathing.

Lengthening through the neck is a good image - to a point - as the neck has a natural curve that does not need to be pulled straight, literally. Telling students to "look at the horizon" usually keeps the chin up in what is actually a neutral position. This retains the curve in the neck.

Enjoy your dancing! Regards, Dianne

I'm glad you've enjoyed my articles at or!


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Dianne M. Buxton


I can answer questions about ballet positions, ballet movements and ballet technique, pointe shoes and pre pointe exercise, mens training, ballet diet, general health issues related to dance, artistry, performance, modern dance, rehabilitation from injuries, and teaching ballet. I have taught ballet, choreographed, produced and directed dance companies. For any answers related to health questions I will offer my experience, and give references to information, but I also automatically include "see a professional".


dancer, ballet and modern, choreographer, dance teacher, artistic director, ballet mistress, producer

I.S.T.D. Actra, Actors Equity


Graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada where I studied Cecchetti, Bournonville, Vaganova and Graham technique. Taught at the National Ballet School of Canada, York University, George Brown College and Harvard University.

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