Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

What is the easiest to deal with?


pointe2perfection

Recommended Posts

We have lots and lots of very good questions and observations here! :D

 

dancemomCA, just so you know, the basis of Vaganova training is coordination of the entire body throughout the entire 8 years of training. Port de bras and epaulement are developed in this program similtaneosly with the legs and feet. If this is not being done, it is not true Vaganova training. Of course, as always, the system is only as good as the teachers. Parents must always check the backgrounds of teachers of anything!

 

I also believe that if a dancer has the "magic"...

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

 

I agree totally with these statements, however I think the question was

What seems to be the area that might be slightly forgiven if the rest of the package is what a company is looking for?  Any ideas?

I simply responded to the question with answers that are parts of conversations I have had with ADs of various companies throughout the world.

 

The "magic" you discuss can only be enhanced by the thorough, academic study of port de bras and epaulement throughout the student years of study. I have never heard anyone criticise a dancer when they have clear, clean port de bras and epaulement, especially if they have fabulous technique with good legs and feet. The critisism comes when the port de bras is over exagerated and just plain bad.

 

BalletAuthor, I would have to say that through observation and experience as a teacher that the bug eyed look of dancers is not anymore obvious in boys than girls. Boys can be more challenging in terms of immediate results. But also, in our system of schooling in the US, the boys and girls study together in the same classes and generally they are taught by woman for all 8-10 years of study. This can have an impact on their developement, particularly in the carriage of the body and usage of epaulement and port de bras. Perhaps many teachers just choose to leave the boys staring front because there is not time to teach separate movements after a certain point. In the younger years of training, it all is pretty much the same, but in the third year of study, teachers begin to deviate from the basic structure of arm and head movements . In Vaganova training these embellishments are called nuance! But the way a young man embellishes the arm movements and the way the young lady does, are two totally different things.

 

As for watching company class, in some of our more reknown companies...shocking, I do admit! Unfortunatley, companies (dancers, ballet master, teachers and directors) can sometimes take the attitude that it is a baisc warm up for the day. Believe me, there is a very good reason for this. Professional dancers work very, very long hours and the work is physically gruelling. I was shocked to watch the company class that my husband gave for 18 years in one of our major ballet companies. He was much less demanding of their port de bras and epaulement than in school classes and his class, at the time was known to be a very difficult, demanding class by the professional dancers. When I asked him why, one of the main reasons was that, the dancers would run him out of his job if he demanded as he did in school classes.

 

I have been back to watch company class in his former company, numerous times since his death. It is suggested that the dancers not use their heads in class by some teachers. Stare straight front at the barre, I think to "feel their placement more?" Yet miraculously in the centre they are supposed to dance. I have observed though that the ones who use there heads correctly at the barrre are never told not to do it! If a dancer has not been trained in this area as a student it takes quite a bit of effort on a teachers's part and a dancer's part to learn how to do it with grace, elegance and coordination. A company class is not a place to learn this!

 

...at least 3 hours a day, 6 days a week is necessary, but yet some people disagree and some big name programs to not have dance schedules that nearly match the European or Canadian schedules. Why is that?...

 

The best answer I can give is time and money. If the students are not available for lessons in various dance forms, how can the schools hold the classes? I have never heard anyone say that it was bad to have class more than an hour and a half a day. I am sure if those schools were able to have their students more hours, they would hold the classes. Think of just the economics of it, not just the hours it would mean to the students. It can work in the European "State Schools" (those funded by the government such as Royal, Stuttgart, Vaganova, Bolshoi, Hamburg, Australian, Paris...the list is endless), however without a great deal of government funding or a very wonderful private donor, how could anyone afford to pay for all of those lessons? It is all about time and money. We have made a great deal of headway in the US in the past 30 years since I have been teaching. At least now students are able to receive high school credits for their particupation in ballet related activities in some places. When I was a student this was only possible in one school in the US, NCSA. Actually when I rethink it though, I think there was also the school of the National Ballet in DC for a while (back in the late '60s and early '70s) that did develop a program for high school credit, but alas it did not survive.

Link to comment
  • Replies 42
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Victoria Leigh

    6

  • vrsfanatic

    6

  • thedriver

    4

I just read your post Ms Leigh! :wink::wub::D

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Thank you, Ms. Schneider! :D

 

The School of the Washington Ballet, not the National Ballet, was an Academy in the 70's. It was founded and directed by Mary Day.

Link to comment

Not to pour salt on old wounds...

In the May issue of Dance Magazine Clive Barnes writes an article on classical training in The US. It is an interesting read that raises an important question, "Why does such an enormous proportion of the principals and even soloists in American companies come from abroad?" quote from the article.

Hmmmm... :clapping:

Link to comment

I have not read the article yet, but I do look forward to reading Mr. Barne's thoughts on the subject. I will wait until then to comment. Maybe this could be a new thread?

Link to comment
BalletAuthor, I would have to say that through observation and experience as a teacher that the bug eyed look of dancers is not anymore obvious in boys than girls. Boys can be more challenging in terms of immediate results. But also, in our system of schooling in the US, the boys and girls study together in the same classes and generally they are taught by woman for all 8-10 years of study. This can have an impact on their developement, particularly in the carriage of the body and usage of epaulement and port de bras. Perhaps many teachers just choose to leave the boys staring front because there is not time to teach separate movements after a certain point. In the younger years of training, it all is pretty much the same, but in the third year of study, teachers begin to deviate from the basic structure of arm and head movements . In Vaganova training these embellishments are called nuance! But the way a young man embellishes the arm movements and the way the young lady does, are two totally different things.

 

Vrsfantastic, you are indeed FANTASTIC. :yes:

 

I was actually thinking of some of the young men who trained with my ds...They were ALWAYS taught by men (except in Level II, 2 days/wk they took class with the girls and 5 days with only the boys and in VII and VIII they were sometimes combined,) this was one of those BIG acadamies and there were definitely separate boy's and girl's programs and it was at that time a Vagonova-based curriculum so there is no basic excuse as to why some of these young men looked terrified and frozen. Since my dk was there for 9 years, I saw enough classes (even if it was only 2/year) to get the impression that SOME, but absolutely NOT all, of the boys did this whereas the girls did NOT, but perhaps the girls who did this were weeded out at a relatively early point and clearly there are men working who still look like terrified deer so perhaps it has more to do with what will be tolerated in men that will not be tolerated in women?

 

and in re:

 

The best answer I can give is time and money. If the students are not available for lessons in various dance forms, how can the schools hold the classes? I have never heard anyone say that it was bad to have class more than an hour and a half a day. I am sure if those schools were able to have their students more hours, they would hold the classes. Think of just the economics of it, not just the hours it would mean to the students. It can work in the European "State Schools" (those funded by the government such as Royal, Stuttgart, Vaganova, Bolshoi, Hamburg, Australian, Paris...the list is endless), however without a great deal of government funding or a very wonderful private donor, how could anyone afford to pay for all of those lessons?
This is SO absolutely true.

 

The academy my ds attended did not have enough studios for both the company and the school. Because a big school such as this might be running several Level I and II classes on varying days and and times and because young children actually do attend academic schools and BECAUSE almost all very young children PAY tuition (whereas in the sort of academy he attended MANY of the Level VII and VIII's received scholarships, so that training them had an overall negative cash flow v. the little ones where it is the reverse). Because of the financial issues (all the issues of early and rigorous training aside), it is important to have the younger students in a school to counteract the negative cash flow created by the advanced classes overall.

 

Additionally, Most American academic schools are VERY uncooperative about dks' ballet programs and will do little or nothing to help a child get to class (PCS in NYC is different from this description as are some other schools, but it is a short list!) and in order to fill their studios schools often feel compelled to have classes commence before the end of the traditional school day. Ds's academy solved their problem by having Level VI come in at 3 and VII and VIII come in at 12:30 so that the Advanced kids were usually done by 4-5:30 when the lower level kids were arriving. It worked if, as a parent, you were willing and/or able to find an academic situation which would allow a high schooler to be finished for the day before noon!

 

Another issue is perhaps the difference between the way we in the US and the Europeans feel about secondary and post-secondary education and training.

 

In most of Europe, unless a child is bound for the university they have COMPLETED their educations by 16. For those not on the university track, many are educated in a "trade." Although we don't think of ballet as a "trade" it is certainly a type of "technical" education and those legions of European ballet schools are providing just that, a technical education which at 16 one is expected to be able to employ As a result, many European ballet companies anticipate having 16 year old aspirants and these dancers, while still training are also working in their companies.

 

Overall, dk's in MANY European company-affiliated programs do spend many more hours in ballet class than do the students in the US, but they attend those acadamies with the intention of practicing their trade and the differences in the hours of training provided here and there often comes down to not only $, but also the American sense that somehow ballet training is "recreational" or overall less important than academics (I didn't say this was true, merely that that is the overriding perception!)

 

There are some notable exceptions, but VERY few people are able to prepare for both an immediate post-secondary entrance to Harvard and a professional ballet career at the same time, although that seems to be a lot of parent's perceptions of how it MUST be...Poor dk's are so often caught between "a rock and a hard place" they are literally damned if they do and damned if they don't.

 

It strikes me as very unfortunate that we in the US do NOT take art seriously nor do we, as a culture, have much understanding of the rigors of training in the arts. By itself, studying classical ballet correctly taught, for an appropriate amount of time, IS A FULL TIME job!

 

Poor dk's, they are so often caught between the proverbial "rock and a hard place!" No wonder they are exhausted!

Link to comment
...the bug eyed look of dancers is not anymore obvious in boys than girls. Boys can be more challenging in terms of immediate results. But also, in our system of schooling in the US, the boys and girls study together in the same classes and generally they are taught by woman for all 8-10 years of study...

 

Balletauthor, please do not misunderstand me. I know some excellent female teachers of young boys and older boys too. In fact in Vaganova School, their are many female teachers of the young boys, ages 7,8,9 (pre-ballet) and 10-13 (when they begin to study the full ballet curriculum). I myself have trained some very accomplished male dancers working in some of our major companies. I am sure Ms. Leigh and many of our other accomplished teachers here at Ballet Talk have also had great success in this area. What I meant by this comment was only that it is rare to find a teacher who has the time to work the room, so to speak, paying detailed attention to both the boys and the girls in our system of ballet education. Boys often times are given what I call the zippididooda approach to ballet. Somehow the majic wand is waved over them and 4-5 years of ballet are somehow supposed to be passed through their bodies in a matter of a years time!

 

But now we are wandering :D

Edited by vrsfanatic
Link to comment
:D vrsfanatic - I do realize that true Vaganova training is the entire co-ordination of the body and both legs and feets are trained in conjunction with arms - porte de bras and epaulement. My son is receiving such training at his boarding school in Canada. He also commented the other day that legs and feet are still very important, but without the coordinated fluid placement of arms and head, how would you ever be able to perform on stage??? As an aside - at Level 3 (out of 7) he is in a co-ed class taught by the AD (female - whom he feels is the best technical teacher at the school) - he does have male teachers for coaching and conditioning. Next year, from Level 4 and up, classes are split into boys' and girls' and most of his primary teachers will be male for the remainder of his ballet studies. He did also comment that he wished that he had auditioned sooner for the school, as he felt that his three years spent at a local ballet studio were pretty much useless as far as his current training is concerned - the zippididoda approach you were speaking of earlier.
Link to comment
In order to develop port de bras and epaulement, students must study with teachers and in schools, that make it a priority. There is a logic to it, just as there is with the legs and feet, but for some reason in the US, this logic can sometimes play second fiddle to things such as turnout, height of legs, hip placement, and how many turns! Unfortunate, but true. I know this was my case as a student and yes, even as a new teacher. It was not until I was 19 that anyone actually was able to begin to open my mind and eyes to beautiful arms and the usage of the head in movement. I was not permitted to use my head and eyes in barre work as a student.  It was considered "old fashioned" to tell you the truth.

 

Fortunately for me I did find Directors and teachers who knew about the importance of such matters as a professional, so I did learn, eventually. But believe me, I did it all backwards. Maybe this is one reason I am so port de bras obsessed when I am middle aged!  :mondieu:  :D

I am happy to read this, as I have always wondered about the protocol for some of the training my DD receives. Her class will spend hours each week doing countless repititions of certain movements and the AD or another teacher often focus on just these details. It's good to know and understand that there are good reasons for the time being spent on port du bras and epaulement. All of it together = valuable training. There are many training issues that are just not explained to the parents and which, when elicited, make so much sense!

 

As always, enjoying my own education!

Link to comment
The School of the Washington Ballet, not the National Ballet, was an Academy in the 70's. It was founded and directed by Mary Day.

I have been wondering about what might be the difference in an institution that teaches ballet being called either an academy or a school. What makes the distinction?

Link to comment

I am sorry, but one last question, and I hope that I'm not going too far off topic. It appears that my dd's school, which teaches only ballet, uses a curriculum that is blending of various technique and styles. How might this be a good or bad thing? It is something that never occurred to me until reading this particular thread.

Thanks in advance for all the responses!

Link to comment

The term "Academy" when applied to a ballet school, usually means that there is a formal, accredited academic school (math, history, language, and so on) directly attached to the ballet training.

 

And there is nothing at all wrong with an eclectic ballet curriculum derived from several sources.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...