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"Practical" Differences Among Vaganova, Cecchetti, and RAD


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#1 rockymtndancer

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 10:38 PM

:) I'm curious to know what you think the "practical" differences among Vaganova, Cecchetti, and RAD are: by practical, I mean, what are you likely to notice if you looked at three dancers from those styles in class, rather than the differences among the syllabi?

I ask because I am taking classes in Vaganova style for the first time. Most of my training has been in ungraded RAD or a mix of RAD/Cecchetti. Now that I'm dancing again after 15 years, I'm finding that the "stylistic" elements are coming back most easily, such as port de bras, phrasing (hope that's the right way to describe it), etc, over some of the more technical things. But I notice a difference in my dancing compared to the other students, majority of whom have trained in Vaganova all along.

For example, I was always taught that the arm in arabesque should be no higher than eye level, rather than lifted with a slight arch in the back. I carry my arms a bit higher (low enough to keep the shoulders down), no "breath" before going into a cambre back, toe at the knee or in front of the knee in passe/retire and never behind except in pique turns, etc. Simplicity was stressed over expression.

I'm curious to know if these are essential differences among the styles, idiosyncracies in my training, or idiosyncracies of this particular teacher (a lot of the dancers began studying as adults with this particular teacher.) So far, the instructor has not said anything about it and seems relatively pleased with the way I go about things, so I'm not overly anxious to change things that are still so ingrained when I have so many technique problems to work on, unless they are definitely incorrect.

I appreciate any input you can give me on the topic and apologize if this has already been addressed! I did a search and didn't find anything particularly relevant.

#2 citibob

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 08:45 AM

The biggest issue to me is that these things are ingrained. The purpose of any training method is to train a dancer who can do whatever is needed for a choreographer. No choreographer would wish to limit him/herself to any of the options you described. A well-trained dancer should be able to do any kind of port de bras, hold the arm at any height, put the toe in any place in retire, etc, etc. as needed.

If your teacher is relatively pleased with what you are doing, then he/she probably understands these issues and is focusing on the more techincal aspects of your dancing.

Simplicity in training is an admirable goal. It is easier to train simply and add details in choreography, than to train in a complex ingrained fashion and then remove them later.

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 08:46 AM

"Branding" in ballet is really not as important as the quality of the teaching. As long as you are getting good training, don't be concerned about the type of the source. Cecchetti is sort of a wellspring for most of western ballet. RAD started off as mostly Cecchetti. Vaganova incorporated many of his principles, but changed the nomenclature. He's still there, though. Vaganova really did a lot of deep thinking about how best to teach ballet, given the social and political realities of 1920s Russia. All ballet methods are responsive to the cultural influences under which they evolved, and the ones that last are dynamic and able to incorporate change as the societies in which they function change. Mutatis mutandis (the necessary changes having been made) could be a keyword for how ballet stays alive and relevant in the world.
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#4 rockymtndancer

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 12:33 PM

Thank you for your well-reasoned responses! I guess my question stemmed from wondering if this was just the way that I was trained or if they were habits that I developed on my own. Having not danced for many years, I automatically went back to the way that I was used to doing things (amazing how these things persist through muscle memory! Something to be said for repetition).

Citibob, that is a very good point. Forgive me if this is an obtuse question, but don't you see a difference between a "classroom style" and performing specific choreography? I would expect that a choreographer would have different demands than what might be considered correct or desirable at the barre by a particular teacher in a particular style. My very last teacher (before I quit) really worked with me to "clean up" my technique and return to the simplest common denominator, probably so I would be able to adapt easily to any demands of choreography.

In a way, it's a little bit of a moot point, considering that I don't expect to perform and am not training for a professional career any longer. Still, that's no excuse for sloppy dancing or for allowing bad habits (if they are that) to persist. I figured if these are things to be concerned about, easier to fix them now than later.

Anyway, really sounds like I'm overthinking things. I'd be better off spending my time worrying about regaining my turnout, strength, and flexibility. If I do have the opportunity to perform once again, I expect that I will have progressed to the point where I could do what the choreographer asked of me. I don't know if that will ever happen; I've only been back long enough to determine that I miss dancing and not long enough to know if I'm capable of reaching an advanced level once again.

But once again, thanks for the responses. I was a little afraid to broach what seemed to be a nit-picky question with my instructor since I'm new (and have so many other issues to be worrying about. ha!) so I appreciate being taken seriously.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:53 PM

But they ARE serious issues, and require serious answers, especially to students of "the age of discretion".

For what it's worth, Vaganova recognized the need to discriminate between some steps and positions "for class" and "for stage"!
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