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Fouettes, Terminology, Theory


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I have about ninety-six million questions currently going through my brain, but I promise to try and mostly ask the less inane ones. :yes:


1. We're working on fouette turns in class, and I'm not a natural turner. I can jump, I can do the whole arms-upper body-arabesque sort of deal, but I'm not an exceptional turner. I'm not awful; I'm average.


Anyway, we're working on fouettes, and one of my teachers told me that they were actually pretty good, but that I don't fully go a la seconde with my gesture leg. Are their any exercises I can do to fix my hip socket (which is appalling loose - I can do total turn in AND total turn out. It's rather creepy.) Also, would trying to do Russian fouettes help? Lastly, when they speak about rhythm in a fouettes en tournant, they are referring to having the plie at the exact same moment, every time?


2. Ok, terminology. We're doing Italian changements and grand changements and doing a couple of entrechat-sixes (I am; most of my class isn't) and other fun, nitpicky jumps like that. We were doing one jump which was a changement, I'm pretty sure, but it involved springing up, legs going out to second, crossing behind in susu in the air, and then landing, legs changed. What is this called?


3. (Sorry about all of these!) When they spoke about emploi in the o so ancient days, they were referring to the natural tendencies of the body, correct? Short = jumps, turns, closer to floor, tall = adage, grande allegro, etc. Would they have specific sub-categories, for short people who were good at adagio, or tall people who could do small jumps, or would that issue just not come up so often, because you would be limited in role choice?


4. Last question! And this one is short. In an attitude devant, are my hips just acting odd, or is it impossible to have very much turn out? Is the height (not at the expense of the posture!) what matters?


EDIT: One last thing! I've noticed that a lot of Russian dancers will have these artistically bent arms, more than most American dancers. Is this just personal aesthetic preferance, or is this taught in schools? (The only thing I really know about Vaganova arms are the position of second, and the names.)


Thanks so much!



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Marenetha, your curiousity is great! :yes: I am able to give some answers to some of your questions, but not all.

1>"Russian fouette" I am assuming you mean the fouette tour that opens directly to second position? I am not sure if it will help you to "fix" your hips but it can help you to achieve a sharper dynamic in the rhythm of the turn.

The rhythm is ..."the effect produced by the systematic groupings of tones with reference to regularity both in their accentuality and in their succession as equal or unequal in time value..." Schirmer's Pocket Manual of Musical Terms...therefore in order to establish rhythm in any ballet movement there must be consistency in accent be it up or down.


2>I would call the jump you have just described as a preliminary exercise for something. Not quite sure what though. Check with your teacher why you are practicing this.


4>The movement attitude front, in Vaganova (St. Petersburg) is actually not studied until very late in the program (4th or 5th year if I recall correctly) It is used in developpe, but it is not separated until the study of consecutive tours in attitude efface front are introduced. There is no pose in attitude or croise front. In Vaganova it is a long leg, not halfway between straight and passe, rather it is almost a straight leg. The higher the leg, the higher the knee, the lower the foot. The idea is to keep the knee up and the heel down, but as the leg gets higher the leg may seem to loose rotation.



5>"... will have these artistically bent arms..." In Vaganova schooling these arms are considered softened, not bent. :) They are trained from the beginning. The coordination of the arms, head and back with the legs is the basis of the system of teaching. If this basis is not established within the first three years of study then the system can look only affected and too stylistic. According to Vaganova schooling, the arms must be an all encompassing aspect of the dancer, not something that is put on like decoration at the end of training. It is taught in schools.

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The jump being described sounds like an "ecart en l'air" or "pas ciseaux" depending on your method's terminology.


Regarding emploi, it's nearly an obsolete term any more, as every company seems to want all-purpose dancers. But height was not necessarily the identifier, You can have a tiny danseuse noble, or a tall, lanky danseur grotesque. What really mattered was how the dancer danced, and not really a matter of height.

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Thanks Major Johnson! I will bring this one to the teacher's forum. I have seen it before, for sure, but I have never known what it was or why! Thanks so much! :yes:

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You're very welcome, Ms. Schneider! :yes: The step is used in Ashton's "Les Rendezvous" several times during the leading boy's variation.

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I have an answer for your last question about the Vagonova arms. I went to UBA this summer and in Survey(History of Dance) we learned that Maria Taglioni had extremley long arms. Her father was her coach and he made her work for hours and hours. Since her arms were so long, her father made her "soften" them. People started to like the soften arms during the Romantic Era so the tradition has carried on through the Vagonova schools.


It was just a quick fun fact I quess. If anyone has corrections about my "story", please correct me!!!

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No, that's correct. Marie Taglioni was sometimes called "that hunchback" because not only did she have long arms, but sloping shoulders and a long neck with a little head to top it all off. Her father, Filippo Taglioni, modified a lot of things for her, including a trip to the hairdressers to have her hair styled in a distinctive upsweep to make her head look larger. He also took pains to have her costume designs all include a type of turban as a headdress. In an 1860s photograph of her, she is still wearing the distinctive turban à la Taglioni. She looked a lot like Dolly Madison.

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All right - thank you Ms. Schneider, Mr. Johnson, and betherinababe, that's very interesting. :thumbsup: I suppose that I was just calling them 'bent' because ... well, some of the dancers I've seen photos of seem to have taken softening arms a bit to the extreme. I mean, arms for arabesque like that are gorgeous, usually, but I've seen some really odd photos of 2nd position.


I think I might try to do fouettes opening a la seconde just so that I can learn how to work that way better. My hip joints otherwise tend to bypass it, a bit, and I'm really frustrated by that.


About the attitude - that could explain. I just was trying to keep my turnout perfect, and realised that SOMETHING had to be wrong - it just wasn't going any further. :wacko:


I know that emploi is an obsolete concept :) . I was just curious, you know - had I lived a hundred and fifty years ago, or older, it could be relevant.


Thank you all!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok: I had class tonight, so I have new round of questions!:


All right, I think I've solved my problem with fouette turns. I was definitely having my working leg too high - I lowered it about 40 degrees down to 50 degrees or so, and it is SO much easier! I got ten in a row the first time I tried it low, so I'm quite happy at the moment. :wink:


My current new question has to do with a la seconde. I have quite a bit of turnout, but I don't think that I use it fully. For example, my teacher will go 'turnout more' and usually I've somehow forgotten, and I can fix it easily. Like, my hips rotate almost perfectly out, so that's not a problem.


However, when doing an extension to the side, I don't think that I'm really turning out my leg, and I can't really feel anything; I'm also not getting it as high as I ought to be getting it. Is there any way I can learn how it's supposed to feel? (Especially because I usually find turn out easiest in things in second and fourth; it's confusing!)



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Marentha, if you have good rotation, and your leg in not turned out in à la seconde extensions, then you are taking it too far to the side. Good rotation and perfect 180º are not necessarily the same thing. If it's 180º but not turned out, move it about an inch or two forward and see what happens. :wink: What use is turnout if it's not there in an à la seconde? It must be turned out, and the audience cannot tell if it is 178 or 180º!

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