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Amy Reusch

Sissonne

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Amy Reusch

:mad: Can I say that Sissone arabesque has got to be one of the hardest things on Adult students and perhaps shouldn't be done repetitively? Every now and then our adult teachers seem to go on a sissone binge and spend what seems like half the centre on it. (is that a Vaganova tendency?) I don't mind sissone to the side, or even going backward, but if one's arabesque and turnout are as much a thing of the past as mine, then sissone arabesque is brutal. I should just give up and do them parallel. There is just so much stress on the ankles and knees. Particularly when the exercise keeps stopping (our combination usually is something like this: sissone arabesque... straighten plie, sissone arabesque... straighten plie... sissone, sissone, sissone. Am I missing something here? I think it would be different if I were in shape, but on one class a week it isn't going to happen, and I'm far from the worst case in the class.

 

I think adult classes should be structured slightly differently than children's classes, if only to reflect on our brittle technique. Sure, we want to work on our technique, but extra care should be given not to induce injury.

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Victoria Leigh

Amy, first a question: Is everyone in the class a once a week student, or are some of them taking a few more classes? The combination you describe does not sound particularly difficult to me for an adult class, at least an Intermediate one. Perhaps a bit for beginning level. And for once a week students. One of the biggest problems I see in students doing sissonne en avant in first arabesque is that they hold their backs too rigid, or even pull back in the upper body, instead of allowing the jump to move forward with the top of the body and land easily with the weight totally over the front leg. If you are holding back in the top half, if puts a lot of strain on the lower back, and creates a jerky movement which will not feel right at all. Don't forget, too, that sissonne is about the jump, not about a high arabesque! (Turnout does count, however :))

 

[ 04-12-2001: Message edited by: Victoria Leigh ]

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Amy Reusch
Originally posted by Victoria Leigh:

Amy, first a question: Is everyone in the class a once a week student, or are some of them taking a few more classes?

 

I believe some take class twice a week and 2 or 3 may take it more often than that.

 

 

 The combination you describe does not sound particularly difficult to me for an adult class, at least an Intermediate one. Perhaps a bit for beginning level.  And for once a week students.

 

It's called "elementary intermediate" and is what I would call "Beginner II" (there's also regular Intermediate and Advanced, each of which meet only once a week).

 

One of the biggest problems I see in students doing sissonne en avant in first arabesque is that they hold their backs too rigid, or even pull back in the upper body, instead of allowing the jump to move forward with the top of the body and land easily with the weight totally over the front leg. If you are holding back in the top half, if puts a lot of strain on the lower back, and creates a jerky movement which will not feel right at all. Don't forget, too, that sissonne is about the jump, not about a high arabesque!  (Turnout does count, however   :))

 

The problem isn't really the back in the arabesque, it's the torque in the knees and ankles on the take-off and landing...I don't know many who can maintain proper turn-out on their standing leg in arabesque, and in arabesque plie they tend to send their knee forward instead of sideways over the toes... the bigger the attempt at the jump the worse the landing & take-off gets... and with the constant stopping, straightening up and bending again, there's a tendency to stand more turned out that can be supported in the jump preparation. If the combination just went by once, it would be okay, but we started with doing it straight forward to the mirror (each group twice) and then repeated it going diagonally across the floor (twice across each side). In an 1:15 minute class, it was most of the center floor. I think if one made little attempt to turn out, lift the leg or jump (as many of the students don't), it probably wouldn't strain one much.

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Mel Johnson

From the amount of time you're presently spending on that combination, it sounds to me as if your teacher has an agenda, perhaps in developing a working turnout that doesn't drop away when you start moving. It's a good goal. You may even want to work on a little combo of your own, like sissone simple, assemblé, just done on your own, first going forward, then going backward, being especially careful about the quality of the jump and landing in the sissones. And remember, point the feet, put the heels down when you land, and keep bouncing, rather than getting stuck in the bottom of a demi-plié! :)

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Cabriole

Amy is sounds to me like you are trying to maintain a level of turnout that is not truly your own. I always believe that the center work is the 'proof' of what was established at the barre. For example, if you were able to guide your knee over the foot, can you now do it in the form of a jump (in this case sissone)? The principles at the barre should progress logically to the center. Sometimes, however, students sometimes do not 'use the barre' in such a way that they are prepared for the center work, allowing themselves to stand in an alignment that they have no way of supporting when stepping away from the barre. This is much that way a musician practices scales; not just to practice the notes, but the TRANSITIONS to the notes and that allows better response to the actual music.

 

[ 04-13-2001: Message edited by: Cabriole ]

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Amy Reusch
Originally posted by Mel Johnson:

and keep bouncing, rather than getting stuck in the bottom of a demi-plié!   :)

 

that is perhaps the root of my gripe... the way she phrased the combination it's as if she expected us to stop in the bottom of the demi-plie. I'm convinced she thinks it's a position. I try to take up the time by slowing down my plie, but I have a very shallow demi (short achilles) so it's difficult. Thanks for the suggestions though. I do believe she has an agenda (or else she wouldn't be devoting so much time to it). Whether it's a goal we can reach, I'm not sure (if you saw the people in class, I think you'd understand my hesitation).

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Amy Reusch
Originally posted by Cabriole:

Amy is sounds to me like you are trying to maintain a level of turnout that is not truly your own.  I always believe that the center work is the 'proof' of what was established at the barre.  For example, if you were able to guide your knee over the foot, can you now do it in the form of a jump (in this case sissone)?  The principles at the barre should progress logically to the center.  Sometimes, however, students sometimes do not 'use the barre' in such a way that they are prepared for the center work, allowing themselves to stand in an alignment that they have no way of supporting when stepping away from the barre.  

 

[ 04-13-2001: Message edited by: Cabriole ]

 

I have no doubt that I am trying to work with more turnout than I have. I've always had trouble with the "work within your turnout" idea. I think it does help prevent injuries, but I don't really believe ballet is designed to work with less than a 180 degree turnout. If your foot is going to go forward instead of directly side in a tendu, etc. than one's glissades shouldn't go directly side either, right? Or should one move directly side but turned in? Now, I don't believe in forced fifths, etc., don't get too worried... I think part of the problem is that it's easier to turn-out in plie than with legs straightened, so perhaps the stress comes in with the straighting through to the jump.

 

I don't know. I had some teacher somewhere (can't remember where now, but wonder if it weren't Peter Schabel) who didn't think adults should be given grand plie in 4th position. (I don't mean adult professionals). Actually, come to think of it, I seem to remember someone who didn't think grand plies should be given at all, though I can't agree with that.

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Victoria Leigh

Amy, I have not used grand plié in 4th position for ANYONE, adults, children, or professionals, in more years than I want to think about, meaning ever since I started teaching full time. And, I no longer do grand pliés, except in second position, at the beginning of the barre. I will put one or two in somewhere else in the barre, but do not make a whole exercise of them at all. Second position is essential, IMO, but the others are not. Fourth position is potentially dangerous and totally unnecessary.

 

Tendu side at 180 degrees for anyone who does not have absolutely incredible natural rotation will be either turned in or the alignment will be displaced in some way to achieve it. It will not be balanced. The foot will sickle. And, you can move beautifully to the side in glissade with slightly less than 180 dégagé with each leg. It will look far better with each leg nicely turned out within your control zone for rotation than it will at 180 turned in.

 

[ 04-14-2001: Message edited by: Victoria Leigh ]

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Guest ORZAK

I, too, have neither given to my students nor done myself a grand plié, except in second position, since the late 1970's. Neither my dancing nor that of my students was in any way negatively affected. And it surely seemed to cut down on the number of knee problems.

 

I started thinking about this at the time that some articles appeared in Dance Magazine written by Dr. W. Hamilton, in which he questioned the safety and necessity of grand plié, in any position except second.

 

Recently I wrote to him and received a reply in which he collaborated that my memory of his article was correct. He has an extensive history as an orthopedic doctor and specifically with dancers and major dance companies.

 

Nice to see you Victoria - I don't get too much time anymore to come here, but I always enjoy seeing you.

 

A very happy Holiday to you!! Basheva

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Victoria Leigh

Thanks, Basheva, nice to "see" you again too :) Nice to know I'm not alone in my battle against grand pliés (except 2nd position of course!).

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Guest Ballerino

I am an intermediate level student who does have a tricky knee from time to time.

I do have a very deep demi plie, and in class I will just do an elastic deep demi

in 4th and 5th, as I too cannot see the practical use of anything more in those positions but for the stretch, and I get more than enough in my demi plie. Especially now, coming off a minor knee injury (landed from a jump on a warped part of the floor-speed bump!

 

-Perseus :eek:

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