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Hi folks,


On Saturday, my teacher (RAD) corrected my arabesque, saying I was "opening up" my hips, instead of keeping them in line and both facing "forward" (ie the hip of the lifted leg moved backwards, towards the lifted leg).


Now, before this, I could have sworn that one of my other teachers (she teaches the Imperial method) said that one *has* to open up their hips in an arabesque.


I'm definitely not disagreeing with my RAD teacher, her advice and "drilling" is really important and beneficial to me, but I'm a little confused.


Do some schools allow "opening up" where others don't?




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Rio, in arabesque, a small amount of opening has to be expected, because there is something in the way back there which presents an obstacle to keeping the hips perfectly square, to wit: the bum. Everybody has at least one. But there is also a counterforce working to keep the hips from opening all the way up. It's a sort of isometric principle. The hip opens, but there is a countering effort made to keep it down. Suffice it to say that while the hip must open slightly in arabesque, that opening must only be as large as necessary.

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Hi, Rio


Sorry this got nothing to do with your question but can you please remeber to sent me the address of the place selling the therabands.


Thank you



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I had a teacher who danced with Rambert's company many years ago who used to call that wide open arabesque "the American Disaster." If you want to get a picture in your mind's eye of what she means, just page through some of those dancewear catalogs (not the ones with ABT dancers modeling the clothes -- the OTHER ones).

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I had a teacher who danced with Rambert's company many years ago who used to call that wide open arabesque "the American Disaster."

Then she must have been discounting those old photos of the Vic-Wells Ballet, many of whom were former Rambert, doing just those. :D

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In the school where I dance, two teachers conflict on this exact topic. One believes a dancer must open the hip, but keep the leg directly behind the body, to achieve a high enough arabesque that "hides the heel" in the back, while another teacher believes you must practice your arabesque in class with both hips facing foward to obtain any kind of flexibility in the front of the hip... then onstage she would permit the opening of the hip. Its a struggle of the minds, while us dancers switch back and forth depending on who is teaching. If being versatile is a bonus, that we are.

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The problem with not using any opening at all of the hip is that it is impossible to turn out the leg above about 30º. :D Since that is not an acceptable line in 21st century ballet, I fail to understand the attempt to do it. Working on getting the best line of the leg that is possible for each student is primary, and the opening must be kept minimal and totally controlled, with the upper body in proper alignment, however, keeping the hips absolutely square makes no sense. As Mr. Johnson said, your gluteus maximus is in the way, and I don't care what size it is, it is still there. If you want an acceptable arabesque, then the hip will have to open somewhat.


Square was a part of very early technique, and a turned in leg in the back seemed to be quite acceptable back in the end of the 19th and very early 20th centuries. (See photos of Pavlova) This is obviously not the arabesque of the later 20th and now the 21st centuries, and is a very old fashioned idea.

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Rio, I don't know if it comes from a RAD idea per se, but I also had to 'retrain' my arabesque as soon as I started doing the RAD syllabus.


As I was trained in the French method, much more opening was allowed (the aim being to have the leg as high as possible, with a curve definitely going upwards head and toes were up basically).

In RAD method, I was told that the hip should face maybe more forward. Of course, there is a subjectivity to it all, because we're talking millimetres here...


In both methods, you will have to reach at least 90 degrees, which is impossible if the hip is not open a little. In neither method are you encouraged to open it so much though, that it looks like the 'peeing dog'. :)


I think it would be much simpler to attempt to illustrate this with photos. I'll try to find the dos and don't and see what you think of them...

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Thanks folks,


We were doing arabesques at the barre when she gave me this correction. She said that when I'm dancing, I can open up more (actually she said "*Then* you can do whatever you want"), but while doing this adage at the barre, I need to keep the arabesque "correct".


I agree with Ms Leigh. My first reaction to my teacher's correction was "But how is it anatomically possible to get a high arabesque without opening up?"


I think I was sacrificing good form for height when it was not actually necessary.


Thanks again


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My teacher does not speak of the "working" side of the hip at all in arabesque. More emphasis is placed on making sure the "working" side of the back is correctly placed forward, instead of allowing the body to twist toward the arabesque. We are also taught that it's very important to make sure that the body weight is brought forward and over the supporting side to maintain limitless balance :) If the weight is not brought very much over the supporting side, there will be a tendency for the working hip to lift too much and for the body to twist. I think it's a common mistake for the weight to not be brought enough over the supporting side. That's why people tend to lift the opposite shoulder...it's the body's way of trying to compansate.


BTW We never actually use the words "working" and "supporting" side in class--but I use them here on this board because it's easier to explain. The emphasis in our class is always on the "supporting" side anyway. That's the side which needs to do the most work.

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we usually talk about "opposite". "opposition" is an operative word in the class. The idea is to use opposing forces, rather than the notion of staying "square" and the working and supporting sides working independently.

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I might be wrong but it looks when it comes to barre work technique is more important then hight in RAD style. I've notice when I've watched the grade 6 sylabus video even when doing developes they state thet it does not have to be high but the technique must be correct.



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It's certainly true for the graded examination of the syllabus (not so much in the vocational part thought, where not only must it be correct technically, but also quite high... But in the lower level of the vocational training, of course a better form is more appreciated than height. :) )

I think it's true to all syllabi though... In the small levels, all methods prefer to have a correct alignment and emphasise the height only when that's understood.

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