There's always that one person in every class whose bones seem to be made of rubber (if indeed, there are any bones!) and who can lounge around in splits just as easily as they can hold a split penché; which is to say, effortlessly. Now, this person might be you, but if it isn't.. fear not! We've got some helpful pointers to get you on track to acing that arabesque! First of all, it's important to remember that just as we are born with different body types, there are different types of flexibility too. What we mean by this, is that certain people will be born with a naturally higher capacity for flexibility. Bodies vary greatly from person to person and some people will have longer muscle fibers, allowing them to stretch their muscles further, and with more ease - and some people will have shallower, less restrictive joints and sockets, giving them a greater range of movement (you know those people with hyper-extension in their knees and elbows, yep, that's them) being 'flexible' is going to come a little easier to these individuals.
Miss/Mr flexible that we were talking about above will probably fall into this category, so it's important not to get frustrated or annoyed with yourself if you've been trying for ages and you still can't touch your toes to your head whilst they can... It's okay, have a brief Lion King moment* and then get on with it. The key is to remember that how you start does not determine how you finish, just because you couldn't touch your toes in the beginning (and everyone else could) doesn't mean you won't be knocking everyone over with a perfect Grand Battement a little down the track. It's all up to you.
So, you've accepted the fact that you're not the most flexible.. yet, and that getting flexible is hard, but you also know that flexibility is an important physical advantage, if not a necessity, for a dancer now what are you going to do about it? Well, these exercises for starters!
Remember: Make sure your body is adequately warm (see our warm-up guide here) before you begin these stretches to prevent muscles seizing up and causing injury to yourself. Don't push yourself too hard in one go, keep in mind that long term improved flexibility is much more rewarding than being uber flexible for one day, and then being so stiff you can't stretch all week!