The Flexibility Plateau
I am not one for being told I can't do something, as you might have realised by now. When I was told by pretty much everyone I couldn't do ballet at "my age", it made me all the more determined to do it. I am nothing if not stubborn.
There are certainly things, many things, in ballet which are only really achievable if you begin as a child, but the process of learning and enjoying ballet has no age limit. What does have a limit it seems is flexibility and I think I have finally reached my limit where no more movement can take place. The Flexibility Plateau, if you will.
Whilst it's true I have worked incredibly hard on my flexibility and have managed to achieve the front splits as well as a fairly reasonable extention, which is no mean feat for a woman of my vintage, however I do believe my body is now saying "No Michelle! Enough!".
For the last 4 years I have tried and tried and I have done everything they tell you to do to get the side splits, yet still I'm not anywhere close. Our current barre & stretch class focuses on the barre with only a cursory nod to stretching in the last 15 minutes, so not really useful for actually gaining flexibility but even so, we have had other teachers in the past who have given us much more focused stretching, plus I practice at home often, yet still those damn side splits aren't happening. In fact, I think I'm getting further away with every attempt.
180 degrees. Never, never , never!
There is a simple test you can do to see if your physiology will actually even allow you to do the side splits, because not everyone can, and it seems I should be able to do them. So why do they elude me so?
The side splits make so many things easier and better, such as turnout. It feels like a hamstring issue, which is odd as I have managed to stretch my hamstrings in every other direction with great success. Therefore, I must conclude it is an age related thing. My old hips simply have no desire to have my legs sit at a 180 degree angle to them.
Damn you pensioner hips. Damn you to hell.