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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Couple of Questions


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I've been trying to figure out ballet technique technically for a while, and I'm a little confused on a few points.


Firstly, in any extension forward, or arabesque, if I understand correctly, you are never supposed to raise your hip. However, looking in a mirror, don't you actually have to lift your hip slightly to get very high extensions, especially to the front? Is it that you are only supposed to lift when necessary, so that rule is trying to keep from making alabesques, or am I missing something?


Secondly, I think that my view of alignment has somehow gotten skewed, and I think that that might be what has gotten me off balance, though I am getting better about staying aligned. Is it right that posture should essentially be shoulders over hip bones, and that on passe releve, you should try for the supporting leg to be more in the middle, and have your weight partially shifted over? I have a flexible, but not terribly strong lower back, and I really have to concentrate, and while I think that the shoulders-hips thing is right, I just want to make sure. Also, concerning weight over supporting leg - can you be too far over, and it look aesthetically bad, or if you get too far do you just fall, so it's not really so much of an issue?


Thirdly, (this is the last one, I swear), in tendu (now I'm getting all back to basics again ... :( ) is it that you should tendu straight out of whatever your first position is, or that your tendu a la seconde should line up with the heel of your other foot? I've heard both, and I can do both, but I'm just wondering which one is right, or if both are, or neither. I'm not forcing turnout in either one, and I have pretty good turnout now, so it's just a matter of which one you ought to do.


I really need to stop building up questions before I ask ... thanks so much!



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Okay, Marentha, I don't have much time this a.m., but will try to answer your questions. :(


1. Arabesque is one thing, front extensions something else entirely. However, the hip does not "lift" in either extension! Both hips are supposed to remain square and level in front and side extensions. In arabesque, the hip will "open" silightly, but that is different from "lift". In order to rotate the back leg, the working hip will have to open, but the standing hip does not move. The weight of the body moves forward in space to adjust to the different center of gravity for an arabesque.

By the way, an "alabesque" is when the leg is out to the side, which can happen whether the hip is lifted or not.


2. Your idea of alignment is right in terms of the bones, but the weight must be shifted over the standing leg when you are on one leg, in any position. In a retiré relevé or pirouette position you must either bring your leg under you or move your weight over that leg. If you are too far over, you will fall, just like if you don't move over enough. You need to find your center ON the relevé. Think of moving to where the weight is over the supporting hip and the hip is over the metarsal (for demi pointe) or the tip of the shoe on pointe.


3. The tendu à la seconde is a matter of teaching method. Some methods teach that the leg must be exactly to the side, others teach that it should go straight out from your first position, depending on your degree of rotation in first. Obviously, if you have a perfect first, the leg will be directly to the side, but if you have less than perfect rotation it will not be quite all the way side, however it will be turned out. If you don't have perfect rotation, and you put your leg perfectly side, either the supporting side will twist a bit, or the working leg will turn in. Or both. :(

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