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Ballet Talk for Dancers

again with the lame duck


elise

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last night in class we did what i *think* were lame duck turns. only i distinctly remember learning these turns to the side. last night we were doing them facing the direction of travel. are these two different turns or just the same thing with a variation?

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A "lame-duck" turn is a piqué tour en dehors. Did the teacher use this term?

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no she did not use any terms in fact. i remember from my prior ballet experience that when we did a lame duck turn we did it facing forward and turning to the side. the turn last evening was very similar, if not the same, only we faced the direction we travelled. just wondering if this is indeed the same turn or if it's some new turn. i don't remember ever doing a lame duck turn while facing the direction of travel before.

 

i asked one of the other girls who looked a bit more expierenced and she though this was just a pique turn backwards not a lame duck, but here again, is there a difference?

Edited by elise
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Usually, piqué tours en dehor are done by spotting the place that you're traveling toward and traveling en diagonale. Some schools initially teach them by having the spot front and the direction of travel parallel to the mirror. I don't care for that, as it's something you have to "unteach" further down the road.

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Victoria Leigh

What you were doing is correct for a piqué turn en dehors. It should face the direction you are traveling. You step forward, not sideways.

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Victoria Leigh

sylphide, IMO, NO! I think it looks like a lame duck only when it is done incorrectly! Actually, it can look more like a dancer with a wooden leg :) I don't know where that term came from, but I will not use it. It is a piqué en dehors, or even a "step over turn", but NOT lame duck, please!

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It's American balletslang.

 

There are loads of theories as to how it came to be called that, and when you see them done without a plié on the leg that steps out to start the turns, you can see the possibility. My own favorite theory is that "lame-duck" is American political slang for "almost out of office" (i.e. almost done) and the next to the last thing that Odette does in her act II variation is a diagonal with a lot of these turns in it. (see - almost done = lame duck, swan/duck...aw, forget it; ya hadda be there.) :)

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Elise, I've been taught them differently by different teachers (by he way, in California we usually call hem "step-up turns" -- but they are definitely pique turns en dehors).

 

Most of my Ballets Russes-trained teachers have had us tombe in second position, then pique under ourselves, bringing the working foot to passe, and presto, you turn. But some of my teachers have us tombe forward before the pique. The faster you go, the smaller the tombe, so it's just a slight step, you bend hte knee but just barely.... when you see them on stage, very often the ballerinas will not put the heel down -- which I personally find kind of mincing and boring.

 

Kyra Nichols does BEAUTIFUL step-up turns -- you just can't believe what you saw. She's not afraid to move out. Piques should always move (unless of course the class is crowded or the stage is tiny). They're so easy, why not? -- your leg is straight already, there's nothing to it, you just stick your toe in hte floor like a nail and you're up.

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Then again, there was my set in the early '60s - we called 'em RUPTURED ducks! :)

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It should face the direction you are traveling. You step forward, not sideways.

It's not true for all methods though. In the French method for eg, while you still spot in the diagonal you travel to, you MUST not face that diagonal... You rather travel like a crab, with your body always facing the public (while your leg and spot remains in the diagonal).

 

In Europe, I have actually been taught very rarely to face the corner for piqué turns, and on those rare occasions, this has of course changed my whole perspective (probably turning too much to face the corner, while my head wanted to spot in the next diagonal upstage of the room :) )

 

Here we actually describe 2 different steps: the 'lame duck' :) or more accurately tombé piqué en dehors (or whatever you call it in another method): this one starts with a deep lounge (not as deep according to how you're taught) -for me, with leg and body facing the corner as discussed- and then piqué with the other leg (on a straight leg) and turn on that 2nd leg. I believe the change though is on the end of that turn, where you 'finish' the spot towards the public. It's only when you 'tombé' into the diagonal (a split second before the turn) that your eyes go to the diagonal to spot.

 

For a piqué turn however, you start with leg one, do a demi rond de jambe a la demi hauteur (not quite à terre, not quite at 45 either) and turn on that same leg (en dedans). Well, that's how I have been taught and teach them... I believe the 'face the sense of direction' is seen much more in the US than Europe...

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Maybe this is a little off topic,but it is regardling 'lame duck'. I was curious to actually find out why a piqué turn en dehors is called a 'lame duck'. I found this on

http://texts01.archive.org/texts/opensourc...an/text/051.txt. It comes from the Handbook of Ballroom dancing. Maybe someone who had danced the 'Lame Duck' was watching someone do ballet and said 'hey, that looks a bit like a lame duck' in reference to the ballroom dance or maybe they also did ballet and the name kind of stuck. I mean who has actually seen a lame duck anyway??? :) they float and glide and waddle.

 

Anyway, here is an excerpt from that webpage about it....

 

"THE Lame-Duck Valse has an ugly name, but is a very graceful dance to watch; it is also a very restful and fascinating dance to dance. It is danced to valse time, and owes its name to the fact that all the action taking the beat of the music is performed with one foot only -by the man with his left, and by the lady with her right-the other foot being merely a "sleeping partner" that travels

along and only takes the weight of the body between the steps of the other foot. The only exception to this rule is when going straight-running forward-when both feet act equally and for the same beat of time.

 

Although called "Lame-Duck" the motion should by no means be lame; it should be absolutely smooth and gliding, rising and falling to the swell of the music just like in a true valse.

In America the "Lame-Duck" is largely danced in preference to the true valse. The "Lame-Duck" is best danced, and most suitable, when the music is over-quick for the true valse. The dance must be performed on the ###### of the feet all the time, neither foot ever quite leaving the floor, but no weight being placed on either foot whilst it is in motion. "

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Thanks! :)

 

I'll have to look that up in Charles Durang, and see how early the name is. He wrote a neat little book on ballroom dancing that was popular during the American Civil War. I know he doesn't use the term lame duck, but I think that combination of steps is in there.

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