Ballerina Profile: Dr. Karen Lambie

Screenshot 2015-09-23 10.33.05Profiles are back! We’re kicking off this week with a profile of Dr. Karen Lambie. Want to be profiled? Fill out this form.
When did you start doing ballet as an adult?
I started taking ballet about 2 years ago after a 30+ year absence.
Did you ever take lessons as a kid?
I did take lessons as a kid from the age of 4 to the age of 8. I started classes again when I was in my 20’s.
Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?
I decided to take classes as a 61 year old ( I am now 63) because I loved it so much when I was younger and felt I needed the exercise.  
Where do you take classes?
I take classes right here in my small town of Statesboro, GA.
What is your favorite part about ballet?
It is difficult to say what is my favorite part of ballet, but I have always loved being able to express the emotions I feel from music through the beauty of dance, especially ballet.
What is your least favorite part?
I suppose my least favorite part is wanting so badly to be able to execute a particular move and not being able to due to the level of difficulty.
Who/What is your ballet inspiration?
I get my inspiration simply from the beauty of the art of ballet. Some of the most inspirational ballerinas for me include Gelsey Kirkland, Sylvie Guillem, Margot Fonteyn and Svetlana Zakharova.
What motivates you to keep dancing?
What motivates me to continue is the feeling that runs through my entire body when I am dancing–I feel as though I am flying! No other kind of dance makes me feel like ballet and I believe that a good barre and center workout is about the best exercise there is!
Do you take any other dance classes?
Occasionally I go to a modern dance or jazz class.
What are your hobbies outside of ballet?
My hobbies include reading, making jewelry and I love playing around with drums.
What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?
What I would say to anyone starting ballet or who wants to start is that it is not an easy discipline. It is very challenging, however, it is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling endeavors ever! It can be extremely frustrating at times, but most of the time, you will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of a class or performance, so don’t give up! Let yourself go as far as you can! Even at the age of 63, I am still improving!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Additional information about myself: I am a retired teacher with 32 years of experience. I am a foster parent. I have become a public speaker concerning the fast growing crime of human trafficking. You may visit my Facebook page at Thank you.


Guest Post: Hypermobility–Learning to Gain Control

IMG_7421_web“Look at her beautiful feet.”  “What fabulous extension he has.”

It isn’t uncommon to hear these kind of comments when viewing a hyper-mobile dancer.  Particularly in ballet the hyper-mobile limbs are sought after as the lines created are more aesthetically pleasing.  Whilst a hyper-mobile dance can become highly accomplished, it is imperative that they learn to control their limbs and gain the strength in their muscles to be able to hold positions safely.

French ballerina, Sylvie Guillem is a hyper mobile dancer, however she has also gained muscular strength to enable her to perform challenging and breathtaking choreography, without damaging her body and allowing her to continue performing into her late 40s (she is currently 49 and still performing).

Hyper mobile dancers are fairly susceptible to injury and as such many never make it to professional level, dropping out during training due to injury.  It is therefore imperative that dance teachers are able to spot a hyper mobile dancer and assist them with ensuring they are correctly aligned through the legs and pelvis, not pushing back into the knees; pulling up between the legs in first position and ensuring the supporting leg in anything such as développé or arabesque is full stretched.  This becomes even more important when the dancer then moves onto pointe, ensuring the alignment is correct through the legs and that the ankles are strong enough to support the dancer.  I have spoken to hyper mobile dancers whose posture and alignment was not corrected at a young age and after 10+ years of training are now experiencing high incidences of injury as a result.

Proprioception (the ability to feel the body’s position in space and relative to other body parts) is also reduced in a dancer with hyper mobile limbs.  This may mean that they cannot feel when their leg is fully stretched, when their arm reaches the end of the range of motion or possibly where the correct 2nd position of the arms is without looking.  There are many exercises that can be done to increase proprioception, including the use of a wobble board, tennis balls beneath the feet during tendus and many more, depending on the area of the body being worked on.  The body needs to feel some tangible feedback to know at what point to hold the position.

As mentioned above, it is also important to increase muscular strength in order to be able to safely hold positions, working both the agonist and antagonist muscles to avoid muscular imbalances by working one more than the other.  Hyper mobility can be a great asset in dance but can also be a danger to the dancer if control is not learnt.  By creating more strength and control the dancer can reduce the chance of injury.


Photos by Philip Payne Photography 

Editor’s note: Check out another piece by Claire, Anxiety and the dancer, on her website Dance Longer, Dance Stronger!