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Fix Those Ugly Lines – Ballet Beginnings For Better Aerial Extension

OK, true confession? I saw video of myself rehearsing last week and nearly wept. Time for an Aerial Extension Intervention, stat!

 Frequent Offenders

When we talk about “lines”, we’re referring to the extended alignment of the body. Some danglers have glorious lines, some of us have to chant, dance, and make ritual sacrifices to get our legs over our heads. Whichever camp you’re in, the rules are the same (unless you are deliberately distorting the line for choreography’s sake):

  • Straight legs
  • Pointed toes
  • Long, lengthened arms and torso
  • Lifted chest (when in doubt, boobies out!)

This is a small list, but it should get us pointed (ha – get it?) in the right direction.


(Not So) Fast Fixes

Alas, the road to lovely lines is a bumpy one (somebody stop me!). Gorgeous lines take a while to cultivate, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! They are non-negotiable in aerial work, and worth every minute you spend with your trusty theraband. As you’re watching your videos, pay special attention to bent knees, sickled feet, a back that would rival Golum’s, etc. Spotting some ugly bits? Try this:

  • Bent knees – straighten your leg (duh). But often, what feels straight is still bent, so think about lifting your kneecap with your quadricep (front of the thigh) muscles, or “pretending you don’t have knees” as one delightful dangler recently suggested. Still bent? Work the exercises in the video below in front of a mirror.
  • Sickled feet – think about winging your pointed foot outward. Using a theraband can help you train and feel these muscles (again, video). I’ve always found it helpful to think about “energy out the feet” or “out the leg”.
  • Chicken wing arms – ya’ll, chicken wings are for Friday night happy hour, not aerial work. There is never a time when chicken wings are pretty, so extend extend extend, or tuck your elbow into your side when a bent arm is called for.
  • Quasimodo back – when in doubt, BOOBIES OUT! Tilting your charms slightly towards the ceiling (or floor, depending on your orientation) will keep the back long instead of rounded.


The video below shows some excellent exercises for improving your aerial lines. A strap or theraband works well for the leg stretch exercise if you can’t get your ankle comfortably into your hands, and you can probably skip the tendus if you want. We’ll look at more specific fixes for each Extension Violation in the future, but this will give you a great start. Your lines could ALWAYS be better whether you’re a beginner or a pro, so get going! Love and pull-ups, Laura



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