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Ballet Talk for Dancers

head positions!


Guest beckster

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Guest beckster

This may be a stupid question ... but I'd like to ask it anyway even if I just get pointed towards some book or other reference!

I am always looking for "general rules" in ballet, as I think it makes it easier when working with people who are lifelong ballet students, as they know these things sort of unconsciously. So my question is about barre exercises, because I'm getting a bit of nagging from my teacher about not using my head. Under what circumstances would you turn your head towards the barre? I mean, for example in tendu devant with the outside leg, "as a general rule" you would have the head turned outwards at 45degrees and slightly raised. If you were tendu-ing the inside (barre side) leg, would you do the same but with the head turned toward the working leg or would the head position remain the same? I know these things vary from one type of ballet to the next and even from one exercise to the next ... I guess I'd just like to know whether there are any rules I can follow which would be correct 9 times out of 10, because I don't want to keep asking and asking every time we do something new!

 

Maybe it is a silly question ... but these things don't always just come naturally ... :)

 

[ 05-25-2001: Message edited by: beckster ]

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The unfortunate thing is, that owing to the differences in the several methods, there is no one single reference which is correct for all ballet regarding the use of the head. If you're studying RAD, then the curriculum and syllabus books for the various grades and majors contain this information, but only within the description of each exercise. They don't come right out and say, "Look in to the barre at a 45º angle when doing any battement tendu dérriére..." You are expected to intuit the information. If you're doing ISTD or BBO, then I have absolutely no idea.

 

[ 05-25-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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In some methods the head generally turns in the direction of the front leg, especially when closing the tendu in 5th position, however there are so many exceptions and variations, that the best thing is to just watch how the teacher shows the exercise. In the early years it's a good idea to remain quite consistent with the use of the head, but then it needs to start varying a bit more as they get more advanced. If you continue with exactly the same position all the time you are likely to get the "cruise control" or "robotic" type movement that hinders versatility and also the freedom in the head/neck area. The head must be used in early training, but one should strive not to have it become a "set" or strained look. In the center, when using the positions of the body or doing certain port de bras exercises, it is expected that the head moves the same way all the time with each position or movement, and this needs to be established in order to have a uniformity of style in the dancers.

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I always know, fi there is a new post when I get in on Friday morning that it is Becky with a question about the ballet classes on the Thursday evening. Gives me pangs of homesickness :-(

 

FOr the set RAD grade barre work, they have some pretty weird things going on with use of head. For example, G8, grand battement, your head has to be turned 45 degrees to the side, but not all the way, for each position, Extrememly wierd.

The simplest way to remember it is, head always turned towards working leg. So tendu devant with the leg leg, your head is turned towards the left (so you would be looking at a corner of the room), to de cote, the head is faced towards the centre, and derriere, it is no inclined towards the barre. Never look down, always chin up. I awlays had the annoying habit of putting my chin down slightly.

Its the same when you do exercises facing the barre. However, your head tends to then face whatever direction you are travelling. Say a pose coupe de cote, satrting with the right foot, then your head will face to the right.

 

For centre work, it depends on your arm positions. Most of the time if you can just follow your arm with your head. So if you are in fifth position (arms) and in fifth position (feet, right foot front), then your head will be turned to the right. The same with arms in third, usually used when you do glissades . With those you would turn your head in the direction you were travelling, which makes sense otherwise you would probably fall over!

 

Does any of this make sense? These are just basic points for you to start with. Also follow the other girls, but make sure you follow the right girl who knows what she is doing!, because you should be looking up anyhow, therefore you can see what everyone else is doing.

 

Jeanette x ;)

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Guest beckster

Am I really that obvious?? thing is, if I asked all the questions I have, I would probably be kicked off the board! Perils of being a beginner I guess, and wanting to get everything right all at once. I know I must be improving in some way but for everything I learn to do, I find more things I'm doing wrong :rolleyes:

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no no no, don't get me wrong, it's good to ask questions. Ask them as you will probably not be the only one with a question about whatever subject it is. After all this is a board on which we have numerous experts and we should all make the most of that while we can :-) So ask all your questions BEcky, everyone here I'm sure, will only be too pleased to help you. ;)

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