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Ballet Talk for Dancers

"Turn from the heel"?


Jaana Heino

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Jaana Heino

Yesterday in class we did a thing at the barre which I think is called (demi)-fouette turn, anyway it is the thing in which you developpé front, then plié (fondu, whatever) the supporting foot, and then turn 180 degrees around, straightening the supporting leg but keeping the working foot where it is, so that you end in arabesque with the working leg back.

 

I've done these before a few times, but now I got corrected on a thing I have not been corrected about before, which is that I "twist" my body first and only then turn the leg, which looks very silly indeed (as the supporting leg loses turnout and then gains it again "following" the body). I think I definitely felt and understood what I was doing wrong (and I hope you do, cause I'm going to ask for help on that).

 

The problem is that even though I felt what I did wrong I was unable to correct it, despite trying. The teacher said to think "turning from the heel" but it didn't seem to help any (ok, she said "a bit better" but was still not satisfied, and my next try was again even worse).

 

Can anyone here suggest things to think about to make it work?

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I have just been doing the movement you mentioned and tryng to work out a solution. In reguards to thinking about moving the heel i can only suggest doing the fouette slowly, so instead of whipping round you pivot round so you can feel the heel moving and how your body is reacting to the pivot. Am i making any sense. We were working on fouettes this evening inthe centre and it actually one of my favourite exercises.

 

The only other way i can think of is its like doing a grand rond de jambe en lair but instead of moving the leg around you body you move your body around your leg by pivoting (or whipping round). There are probably people screaming NO NO NO as they are reading this.

 

I hope that by doing the above slowly you can see if and where abouts in the movement your body twists.

 

I will keep thinking and hope that someone comes up with a decent answer for you instead of my twaddle.

 

skippy:D

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Victoria Leigh

Jaana, this movement should first have been introduced with a tendu or dégagé, so that you learn HOW to turn on one leg from the first side to the other side. Try doing a tendu devant, and whip around, by turning your supporting leg and your body at the same time, arriving in an arabesque tendu on the other side. The weight of the body will need to be forward over the metatarsals to do this, as it is the heel that lifts slightly to allow the movement to happen. Then do it with a dégagé, and then do it with the dégagé on a relevé. The working leg must not drop as you turn from the first side to the other side, but actually should lift a bit. Once your body understands this movement, then you can do it with the working leg at a higher level. It can be done with a piqué action, a relevé, or a sauté in the center.

 

It is an important movement, and one that is used a great deal in center work. Learning to do it correctly builds a lot of valid skills and leads to being able to do this movement in many ways.

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Mel Johnson

Another system (RAD) starts a student doing these rather early as "fouetté of adage" which is initially taught terre à terre and with a little slow turn done simply as a promenade. Then, over time, it gets higher and quicker, until they're being done both at the barre and in the center as something you'd probably call "fouetté en tournant en diagonale" which can be either done on relevé, or sauté, usually with a chassé in between.

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Jaana Heino

Ms Leigh, now that you mention it, we have indeed been doing the movement you describe with a tendu and degage during the last term! And your words - "The weight of the body will need to be forward over the metatarsals to do this, as it is the heel that lifts slightly to allow the movement to happen." - are something I've heard my teacher say about a gazillion times...

 

As stupid as it sounds, I just didn't realize I should try and combine what I learned from there to this new thing - and the teacher who taught me the advanced version is not the same one who taught the earlier ones, so she couldn't say "but this is exactly the same what we did last term!".

 

It sounds so silly now, because of course the movements are the same - but this class where this was introduced was my first one on the intermediate 1 level, and I dare say there was some brain overload going on. :)

 

I think this realization will help. I think I also might have been rushing the movement, eager to get it right, so I'll try and do it more, sort of, deliberately, instead of rushing.

 

Thank you once again!

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Mel Johnson

Jaana, when you are doing this fouetté movement, you're likely to hear the teacher saying, "Get the heel around before you come down." It's kind of tricky, because this is something that turns en dedans, and the temptation or tendency to drop turnout will be great. I know I remember getting this correction often when I was studying.

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Jaana Heino

Oh, yes, Mr. Johnson, she did say that, and similar things, repeatedly. Only, I didn't understand what she meant, before I managed to make the connection to the tendu version of the same thing, even though I though I did. :)

 

I want to say again how extremely lucky I feel to have this board. Most advice we get here is of the sort that when I hear it I want to back my head to the wall for not realizing such self-evident thing in the first place... but I think in most cases it would have taken a lot more time to actually understand it without the professional explanations provided here.

 

The teachers in the class provide a lot of information, of course, but classtime is still limited, and I feel talking here significantly speeds up the intellectual side of the learning. And I'm a very conceptualized learner - I am almost completely unable to learn a movement I can't explain on a verbal/conceptual level - so it's very important for me.

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Mel Johnson

Oh yes, Jaana, we certainly recognize and appreciate what you're going through, we've been there ourselves and sometimes class just moves too fast, and there are too many things to pay attention to, for you to be able to get the full benefit of a correction there. Ms. Leigh and I have been teaching long enough where we're able to identify the common problems of our online "students" and give advice that can be digested in relection. We're very fortunate to have students who can describe their difficulties clearly, as it helps us diagnose what's going wrong and what's going to help!:)

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