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Landing like an elephant!


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I am presently experimenting troubles with acquiring good landing from jumps. My teacher noticed that when I do a series of jumps landing on one foot, for example a series of sissonnes on diagonal, I seem to land with my foot flat on the floor. He tells me I should rather land toes, demi-pointe, heel, plie sequence. I try but cannnot seem to do it. Do you have any advice on how I should perhaps shift my focus when jumping to achieve better landing? What should I think of when landing? This is so frustrating because I otherwise have a good jump... but as my teacher says, I destroy it by landing flat footed :wub:

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Concentrate on this idea - your landing should be just like your takeoff, except in reverse. You jump from a demi-plié to flat-footed, to demi-pointe, to three-quarter pointe to full pointe to airborne. Only it happens very very fast. The landing is the same process, but in reverse. Elephants CAN'T jump, largely because they are always on demi-pointe! (They also have lousy turnout.)

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Have you tried breaking the whole jump down into slow motion, holding the barre (preferably two barres)? On a suggestion from one of my teachers I spent about 20 minutes one day doing a LOT of sautes in first very slowly at first (as slowly as my arms would hold me up) then gradually getting faster. Made the mechanics of the whole thing much easier.

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Off-topic, but this reminds me of one of my beginner classes, where we were learning jumps. When we proved unable to quickly grasp the concept that is the topic of this thread, the teacher, an older Russian lady, claimed, a hand over her eyes, with a thick Russian accent: "It iz one pack of elephants, I cannot bear lookink."


The comment had us giggling, but we did our best not to be called elephants again. I find it helps me in jumps to think of the feet as a spring: when I plié, the spring tightens, then when I jump it opens up, stretching straight in the air, and when I come back down it compresses again. I don't think of the feet flexing and pointing so much, but imagine a coiled spring covering the whole feet. A silly image maybe but it does help me.


(Well, actually, the teacher of course said it in Finnish: "Se on yksi elefanttilauma, minä en kestä katsella." But the Russian accent was still there.)

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I definitely understand what you mean. You know how to do it intellectually but cannot do it physically. I don't know how many teachers that tried to explain the principles of a jump before. Then this wonderful excersice came to my knowledge: do small small jumps, with your toes barely leaving the floor. This will force you to point your toes in the air and also force the demi point on your way down. (At least I find it almost impossible to land on my flat when doing such small jumps.) It is important to do them rather slowly and feel the demi each time, to really get the principle worked into your muscle memory. It is such a simple excersise but yet, the only thing that helped me with my landings.

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But if elephants could jump, just think of the classes! Grands jetés for example: "That's it, girls, up, UP -- careful, don't step on anybody's trunk! (Elephants: 'Wheee!') No, no, Hephzibah, you're landing like a human!" :wub:

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Work on tendu, lengthening through the WHOLE leg. Then work on degage, getting your leg as long as it was previously with tendu --- but all in one motion. Your legs and feet go through the same motion landing a jump.

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Conventional ballet wisdom emphasizes foot action in jumping (both in take off and landing), which is important for the look of a ballet jump, but largely irrelevant to either the height of a jump or the thud of a landing. Actually it’s the plie that accounts for 90% of dampening of the sound. Somone who lands softly from a jump can do so even when they land with their heels less than half an inch of the floor. The plie, by the way doesn’t have to be deep, but it must be “soft.” Personally, I think a good way to learn to soften one’s jumps is just to do a lot of rope skipping. I’m sure there are many others too including the universal cure for technical problems—more classes and patience.


By the way, elephants can’t jump because of their huge weight to mass ratio. And if they could jump, they would likely break several bones in landing. Makes me want to lose some of my own mass.

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This is slightly off the topic, but having made several elephant

landings in my life, I feel uniquely qualified to comment :D

The absolute WORST ones (including one very painful one on

a straightened, fully extended leg, ugh!) for me all have had one thing

in common: I was not thinking about what I was doing right then in the

moment, but was instead trying to remember the next part of the combination,

or "correct" something that I was doing wrong without remembering that

I needed to actually do a landing!


I don't know if you folks find yourself doing this too, but for me (as a

newcomer to ballet) I struggle with keeping my mind focussed on doing

one step at a time -- instead I'm busy worrying about forgetting the next

part of the combination, or getting my arms right, or whatever. I find

I do MUCH better when I know for sure what I am doing now, and what

I will be doing next. That's pretty obvious stuff, I know, but it took me a

long time to get it through my thick head...

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Yes, Roberts, that happens to me too. The times when I make the most mistakes is when I'm put to the front row or the end of the barre so that other people can watch the choreography from me - I get so worried about getting the right steps that I don't do the steps right, if you see what I mean.

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I was not thinking about what I was doing right then in the

moment, but was instead trying to remember the next part of the combination

Gosh, this is so true for me as well! Most of the times I do feel "in the moment" but for some reasons, combinations with jumps in diagonal feel tricky for me :yes:


When I tried to put in action all of your words of wisdom, I came to realize that when I do attempt jumps on the spot or with light travelling(assemble, glissade,entrechat 4, echappe,etc) I am OK wiht the landing (plie and feet wise). The problem truly is in the jumps that I need to travel up in the air and moving to the front that cause me great dispair(ex. grand pas de chat, series of sissonne in combo with assembles or glissade jete in diagonal).

Well...I guess I wil try harder again tomorrow...

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Guest shamrokme

I dont' know if this helps, but I think of it as rolling through it. Rolling through your foot from the toes, demi-pointe, through the foot till the hell is on the ground and then through the leg to the knee in demi-plie. The same way you do going into or coming down from releve, except with the plie at the end of course.

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The problem truly is in the jumps that I need to travel up in the air and moving to the front

Maybe your centre of gravity is too far back... It would be much more difficult to concentrate on landing 'softly' if you're already on your heels.... I would suggest (if those are big jumps) to attempt them first not too far up (smaller than what you would normally do) and focus on the distribution of weight, and how it travels in the air (up but also very much forwards). Once you have done it correctly with a smaller amplitude, you can up the stakes... :lol:

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Eureka Belletowoman! I think you have found the solution. I have been struggling with my body being not lifted up and forward enough since day one.

When I have started pointe work, I DID NOT have a choice but to correct that problem...Otherwise you cannot stay en pointe :thumbsup: I am still new to ballet and this tendency seems to resurface on occasions like when executing those up to the air and to the front jumps.

I will definitely try this today.

And tell this to my teacher to see what he thinks.

Thanks to everyone :innocent:

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