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Problems with frappe to the back


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I'm having some serious problems with frappe, and I am kind of lost with the corrections I get. :innocent: The problem may be simple but I'm just not "getting it". I cannot seem to get enough of a hold on the problem to start working on it.


This problem occurs whenever I do frappe to the back on pointe or demi-pointe in a quick tempo. Quick full or demi-grands rond de jambes between frappes and series of frappes to the back make it worse. :sweating:


What happens is that my lower spine kind of "buckles under". Sometimes my ribcage opens too. If there are many concecutive frappes, I usually end up with my weight not correctly over my leg and/or poorly aligned (usually I start to lean towards the barre). One correction I got was that I'm doing my frappes to the back with my belly.


I try very hard to pull my abdominals more up and in, but my spine still moves forward-backward in an uncontrolled jerky movement as a result of me trying to keep my weight over my supporting leg. (My ribcage goes forward whenever the leg exteds - my hips cannot do the 45 degree extension to the back without a slight tilt.)


However, if I've understood correctly, my upper body should not move forward and backward with each frappe - or at least it should give the impression of being completely quiet. And freezing my hips into the "tilted" position that allows for extension back to 45 degrees just seems to be plain wrong for the sur le cou de pied derriere position part of the frappe. Hips should never anticipate the legs, right? :thumbsup:


Additionally, the engineer in me is wondering that if my leg goes to the back, and my upper body stays completely still, won't my weight then be too far back and I'll fall off balance from my demi-pointe? (Obviously this is not wholly true, because I can frappe on demi-pointe to the front and to the side sometimes completely without barre, and still stay quite upright.)


I have a loose, flexible back which generally lacks strength. My supporting leg also tends to lose turnout while I'm executing frappes to the back, but I do not know if that is connected with this particular problem.


Are there any ideas to help me to understand this problem better? Or perhaps even solve it?



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And freezing my hips into the "tilted" position that allows for extension back to 45 degrees just seems to be plain wrong for the sur le cou de pied derriere position part of the frappe.


There's a few possible strength things in your post to address but this one thing really stood out to me. Frappe should hit the degagee position...45 degrees is too high, whether executing them flat or on demi pointe. You may be making them too big.


I'd start with that.

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The engineer in you is right. :innocent: However, I think just a bit of different verbiage might help here. In general, while the leg is going front and side, there is no movement, however, for the back positions there may need to be a very slight (for a low leg) shift of weight forward. That said, in a back frappé, the leg is very low, straight out from the heel, and there can be no forward and backward movment of the torso. Nor should there need to be, since all the action is from the knee and ankle, not from the hip except to maintain the rotation. Therefore, it is totally about the weight placement and the use of the abs to maintain your core strength.


Try standing beside a mirror, facing the barre, on demi pointe. Use the leg closest to the mirror, and watch the action of your working leg. It should start with the heel to the heel of the supporting foot, and open only from the knee, in more of a downward action. There is no lifting action of the leg. The thrust of energy in a frappé is downward and does not happen from the hip. As you do this, watch the torso to see that it does not move or give out in the lower back, due to the ab weakness.

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I would start with degagé to the back and see that nothing is moving there already (as it's a slower, softer move, the changing of weight placement may not be as apparent... But here as well: the leg moves but not the upper body).

Remember also that your derriere is in the way... that means it also needs to be engaged (that helps the hips staying still). If you let it there, in the middle of everything, without attempting to engage it (so it's like a big blancmange :D ), it will get in the way.


I would start from the degagé simply (without attempting to raise to demi pointe, because if you can't have the right posture in degagé, you're not ready for demi pointe).

Simply draw your foot to the back (making sure the hips don't move... To be able to straighten the leg in this way, you will have to engage the bottom, and extend the leg as far from you as possible. )

At all times, ensure your upper body is straight 'on top of' your legs. If It's already the tower of Pisa at this stage, you must start from the beginning.

Now, lift the leg a few centimetres off the floor (we're talking minute here) If you feel secure, just raise to demi pointe (the leg at the back has not moved... that's the height you need... So, in terms of height, it will be at the same height as the ankle).

Once the degagé has been fully understood (doing them in repetition) you can do little lifts off the floor (upper body is just passed the hips at the front, but really nothing more). From 5th position, draw your foot to cou de pied derrière. Now, you have the whole sequence in slow motion... Do, the cou de pied and frappé to the back (it depends on the method you use... If you frappé to the floor first, then lift slightly off the floor, then use the degagé and lift slightly... If you frappé directly 'in the air' then do the same, but the degagé becomes a skimming off the floor -so same height throughout)

Do this as slowly as you want at first, and increase the speed once you feel confident... You shouldn't attempt the 'fast immediately' if you haven't understood (and physically done it right) the degagé and slow frappé.

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ballettowoman, is "blancmange" similar to jello? :D

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Guest beckster

Blancmange (pronounced Bluh-monj) is a cold gelatinous pudding made from milk and cornflour. Prince Charles said the Millenium Dome looked like a giant blancmange, so you can at least imagine what it looks like. US Jello is UK jelly and US jelly is UK jam, oh let's call the whole thing off! :wink:


Sorry I can only talk about food and not frappe's, which are of course a drink :clapping:

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Back to frappes (not to be confused with milkshakes)--the point about the low degage is very useful and probably critical. Some of my teachers prefer/insist on the 45 degree degage and others use the "just off the floor" degage. I will have to ask one of the 45-degree teachers if they intend for that to carry over to frappes or not...

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Thank you very much, Ms. Leigh, balletowoman and lampwick.


Some of these things sound quite helpful. Now that I think of it, I might indeed be lifting my working tigh whenever I extend the leg to the back.


I will have to experiment with these things at the barre, I will report back. :clapping:



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ballettowoman, is "blancmange" similar to jello?

Yep, same consistency! :wink:

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I did some experimenting in the classes and at the studio on my own over the weekend, and I am indeed using the working tigh too much - and I do not even notice I'm doing it! If I concentrate on just rotating the tigh and working from knee down I seem to be able to (just barely) keep my lower back from collapsing if I pull my abdominals up really hard. Using the image of low degage as placement guide to frappe helped too.


Ms. Leigh, I tried implementing your advice on my Sunday class, which often has very quick frappes. I'm not totally convinced I got it right, but at least I did not get corrected in frappes yesterday while I did get corrected for almost everything else. (This particular teacher is generous with corrections, but gives very little praise. You can guess you are progressing when she starts correcting different things than previously and/or asks even more impossible things from you. So I hope this new approach - thinking down, instead of back - to frappes is working. :D )


Since I'm not even really noticing the tigh movement thing, this one will obviously take a lot of effort and very careful work to get right, but at least I've gotten a handle on the problem! :P Not understanding what goes wrong is very demoralizing.


I have one additional question about frappes to the back: If I aim to keep my tigh completely stable, my lower leg opens slightly to the side-back instead of fully back. Is this acceptable, or should I aim to open the frappe straight back, moving the working tigh very slightly inward during the "out" action? I'd assume the latter?



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Paivi, the leg should not go out to the side at all. It goes straight back. Try not to let the thigh move inward though! It should maintain the same rotation that it has in your best cou de pied derrière position!

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I think I understand what you mean, Ms. Leigh, and will try to implement it. (One of the corrections I have been getting a lot lately has been about maintaining working leg turnout to the back - instead of using my rotators to turn out the working leg and opening my hip as little as possible, my rotators are loose and my hip opens a lot. I sort of "turn out from the spine". I can easily correct that one as long as I remember to, but I seem to remember it all too seldom. :sweating: )


Thank you again for the help! :wink:



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