What does the above term have to do with ballet? Nothing really, but I’m guessing you’ve already figured out that this noun turns into a verb in ballet class (your grammar lesson for today is complete). Tucking your pelvis is a big no-no-it weakens your back, makes your knees vulnerable, and can lead to injury and pain.
What is tucking?
Tucking is often the result of trying to rid yourself of that pesky, curvy thing behind you, also known as your butt. Somewhere along the line, someone started passing along the rumor that dancers should not have curves. ANYWHERE. My hope is that folks are a little more enlightened now, since this is not true-everyone has a derriere (walk down the street and take a look some time) and people who dance are not immune. We all need something to sit on, right? Old school teachers especially used tell you to “tuck your bottom under”.
I sincerely pray this phrase is no longer used in ballet classes, and avoid it in mine like the plague. The end result is usually a pelvis that is pushing under, rotating the coccyx (aka tailbone) forward. Standing this way softens your knees, making them unstable, and generally worsens your balance, turnout, stability, line-you name it. If you look at the picture above you can also see that it affects your alignment, pulling your head forward and rounding your shoulders. I’m sad to say I did walk around like this (in and out of class) for more years than I care to remember. It gave me (I thought) a lovely flat butt, and I was working so very hard…of course it must be right. Wrong!
How to banish the tuck
The trick is to align your pelvis in a position that is engaged but neutral. Working to correct tucking is tricky but very possible given a little time and patience. Start by standing normally, ie. stop trying to stand like la dancer-don’t worry about turning out, and sometimes it helps to “shake out” a bit, or take a few steps in place before starting. Once you’ve done that, place one hand on your sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of your spine) and one hand on your pubic bone (located several inches below your belly button). Gently move your pelvis so your back (sacrum) hand drops toward the floor, and your front (pubic bone) hand lifts toward the ceiling. (Small movement here-it may feel as if things are barely changing position.) If you feel any softening or bending in your knees you’ve gone too far. Sometimes it’s helpful to go past the correct place into a tuck and then return to the “right” position.
Standing this way also (added bonus points!) helps you to engage your lower abdominal muscles (fun fact: your abdominal muscles extend below your belly button, all the way down to the aforementioned pubic bone). The lower abdominals are a key component of your “core”. Using them keeps your back healthy and help make you a stronger dancer. Time to banish the tuck!