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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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Hey Guys,


In particular relatively larger guys (180 lbs, 6'). Lately my teacher wants me to make my grand jetes and saute de chats bigger in center floor. Neglecting choreography for a second, how does one land; where should the weight be? Intuitively, for these traveling jumps, I feel I should still be moving when I land so there's not such an abrupt momentum change. Any insight would help.

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I'm not so sure about where weight is when landing, it's like walking, it just kind of happens. But what I am sure of is how the foot should contact the floor. The landing foot should be pointed so the toes hit first then you roll through the metatarsels to absorb the weight as you land -- rather like a good tendu at barre. This makes for a clean, quiet landing.

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That's an excellent beginning for a "soft landing", but there's more to it than that. While it is vital that the entire foot start the shock-absorber effect, it is essential that it must continue into a soft, deep, elastic demi-plié and an easy transition into the next step in order to be a good landing. Just being able to walk away from it may work in aviation, but it's not a good enough landing in ballet!

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Here’s an exercise you might try to soften your landings. Start it with some very simple jump like sautés. Pay no attention at all to correct ballet technique at first. I’d do this some place conducive to jumping too, like the dance studio. First jump (not very high) and land with as big a thud as you can. Do it a few more times, but be careful as to not injure yourself. Repeat the same jumps, but this time land as quietly as you can. Don’t think. Don’t use your brain at all. Just listen to the sound you are making. Next repeat, starting with a thud, but trying to lessen the sound with each jump until you’re landing as quietly as you can. Then stop.


Once you get to the point where there is a sizable, noticeable change in the sound (thud-as soft as you can do), you can start paying attention to things like technique, all the things you hear in class when you jump.


My sense is that for some of us, we automatically know how to soften landings from jumps and that approaching it analytically isn’t very helpful. We just have to remember to do it. The above exercise just makes us more sensitive to the need.

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