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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Extension


Vickie_CO.

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I would appreciate knowing how important a high extension is in a young, 13 yr. old, dancer. Is technique what most SI's would look at with this age group? Will extension increase with years of practice? I know some kids are naturally more flexible from the start. Thanks all! :o Vickie

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balletbooster

I would be interested in knowing a slightly different twist on this question. Even when the student can get a higher than 90 degree arabesque, my daughter's teacher thinks that the "perfect" arabesque audition photo should be at 90 degrees. She thinks that this best shows off the pure classical line. As soon as the dancer goes above that angle, she thinks that the line is not as pleasing.

 

I'm just wondering if this is a widely held belief, as there is always much talk about breath-taking exensions. Is the arabesque audition photo the place to show off this facility or not?

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Hi balletbooster. I've never really been concerned about extension and I don't believe my daughter is worried about it. She works hard trying to improve in all areas as do most of our young dancers. We received our copy of POINTE magazine last week, that has all the Summer Intensive Audition information, and it was hard not to notice that alot of the pictures advertising the different programs show kids with amazing extension. I have no idea how old some of these kids are, but it just made me wonder how important it is at this stage of a dancers education.

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balletbooster

Vicki Co.

I understood the question you were asking. You are just wondering what is expected of a 12-13 year old, as far as their arabesque picture, right?

 

I can only speak anecdotally on this and only from my daughter's experience. When Major Mel or Ms. Leigh are available, I'm sure that they will give you a much broader insight. Ever since my daughter has been doing auditions (age 10), she has submitted an arabesque photo at or just above 90 degrees. The first couple of years, it was on flat, as she was not yet on pointe. Since about age 12, it has been on pointe. In many cases, these were video auditions, so I would assume that the pictures were more important than when a live audition is attended. This arabesque height has given her very good audition results. That is really all I can tell you, except that I THINK that the height is less important than the line, rotation, placement, foot/ankle position, etc.

 

My question is related, but not the same. It is really about whether a high arabesque shows off the lines as well as a 90 degree angle. :)

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Remember that those are advertising photos. They are meant to entice students to the SI. The subtle (?) promise they are offering is that "you too will leave our SI looking like this." I doubt the average student looks that good.

 

In all the anxiety about auditioning and getting accepted, we forget that the SIs are also trying to sell themselves.

 

Balletbooster, the teens had a discussion over the summer (I think) about arabesque lines. Victoria posted a link to some photos, and queried what was right and wrong about them. You'll find the thread here.

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Victoria Leigh

Vicki, balletbooster is right in terms of photos. Clean line, good feet, rotation, arm placement and hip placement, etc., more important than height. I love a beautiful 90º, or just slightly higher, arabesque. Extreme is not usually very good. There will be placement issues with it. Which, I think, answers balletboosters question too!

 

(Sorry, in a rush 'cause I'm at work. More later if needed!)

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You all answered my question as well. Thank you. hmm, it didn't occur to me that SI's are also competing for students. I am suffering from a severe case of tunnel vision here! This sight is very helpful! Vickie

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Victoria Leigh

Vickie, there is something else that I forgot this afternoon because I was so rushed. Very often extension does not develop until after growth is about finished. I have seen many students develop much, much more extension after 14-15 years old. :)

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balletbooster

Ms. Leigh,

I have a question about the pictures from YAGP that Treefrog linked to this thread (thanks Treefrog :dry: ).

 

In the 3rd photo that shows a nice extension, etc. isn't the front arm too high? At my daughter's school they are taught that the front hand should be at eye level, so if the dancer looks just above it, there is a nice line from her gaze to the end of the fingers. Is the YAGP pic OK because it is part of choreography where a higher front arm might be called for OR is this height acceptable for any arabesque?

 

(When my daughter is really trying to get her extension up there, it is easy to throw that front arm up with the leg. But, those pictures are always rejected due to the arm being too high, so I am curious about this.)

 

Can you tell that we are in the throes of making the audition video and photos right now???? :D

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Thanks for the information Ms. Leigh. Although I know my daughter still has alot of maturing to do, I hope she is almost full grown. She is just 13 and is 5'6 1/2 " tall. Luckily we have many tall girls and boys in our studio so she is able to partner without feeling like she is towering over everyone!

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Victoria Leigh

Balletbooster, that is not a pure classical first arabesque that I would use for an audition photo for a student, however, it is a perfectly fine choreographic arabesque and very often used that high. Even in Swan Lake, for instance, you will often see a very high front arm, with the head lowered and the wrist slightly dropped. Students should first learn the pure classic position, of course, but then when they start to learn choreography and repertoire, they will discover many different heights and positions of the arms.

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balletbooster

Thank you, Ms. Leigh. I thought it might be a choreographic issue. But, since I'm in the midst of scrutinizing the arabesque for photos, I just had to ask! :unsure:

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Victoria Leigh

Yes, Ms. Jaffe has a very nice arabesque :unsure: However, it is not on pointe, so that would not be right for more advanced dancers.

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