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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Hops on pointe


psavola

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I've been recently partially moved up levels so that now I'm taking my old classes 3 times a week and more advanced classes 2 times a week. The more advanced class is doing hops on pointe, on one foot :wink: , and I'm having difficulties with them. I can do perhaps 2-3 concecutive ones slowly with my better leg in the center while the teacher is watching. (I deduce the quality was acceptable since I was not corrected and the teacher was working only with me at that time.)

 

The teacher tells me I'm probably still not strong enough, and has prescribed a cure of "as many one-legged releves on pointe as I can do with good form" 3-5 times a week in addition to my classes. I have also decided to supplement this with theraband work since the articulation of my left big toe leaves much to be hoped for. (It does not point as well as the right one, and tends to outright curl when tired).

 

However, I'm not very comfortable with the position of the foot when I try doing hops on pointe with one foot. I systematically tend to overpoint the ankle, and have difficulty understanding how to place my weight. I know the foot position for hopping on pointe in theory. I can do two-footed hops securely enough, although hops on pointe are not (and never have been) my forte. I also have no special difficulty with sissonne fermees on pointe.

 

So I wonder if there is a way or an exercise to learn to feel and find the correct position for one-legged hops separately from actually hopping? I think I would be much more confident about them if I could trust my feet to find the correct position and not fear they wobble over. Specifically, would trying to hop around on high demi-pointe be a really bad idea? :) Or should I just trust that it comes with strength and practice?

 

I know these things take the time they will take, and I will be patient :blushing: , but if at all possible I would also really appreciate knowing wheter that time is usually counted in weeks, months or years.

 

Päivi

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My instinct would be to attempt them cautiously until you're very secure with two footed hops. You need very strong feet and a very well held back to do these safely. The foot position is the same for one footed and two footed hops. There's always a slight plie, and the arch is held very strong so the foot doesn't "go over" en pointe. They're one of those wierd things that are a piece of cake (relatively speaking) if you're strong enough, but impossible and rather dangerous if you're not. I think it's simply a matter of strength. Some people with highly placed arches will have more difficulty obviously.

 

For me, they were easier at first with my leg in a position to the front....like an attitude front. I find arabesque is a bit harder. At first, I did some little "pulses"...almost like a half hop. Just to start feeling how I was using the plie. I try and concentrate on my shoulders, back, arms, and hands and let the legs and feet just do the work.

 

If I start to tire from them, I will usually just stop and not try to "push" myself. Not with this step. Too much danger of twisting an ankle.

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lampwick is correct, psavola. If you have the position of the ankles right on the two foot hops, like changement on pointe, then try holding the barre, transfer your weight to one leg in that position, and try to hop. Another thing you can do to find the ankle position is rise on pointe in first, demi plié on pointe without going into a forced arch, and there is the position. :) (It's really not a very pretty position, but when the hops are done in a variation the attention is given to the other leg and the whole position, and not to the foot that is hopping. )

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Thank you Ms. Leigh and lampwick for the advice, I will try it out.

 

lampwick, what do you mean by highly placed arch? One close to the heel? I don't quite see how this would make hops more difficult? :P

 

(I have high arches, and most of the arch is just after the heel.)

 

Päivi

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Paivi, I beleive lampwick is talking about the very high arch/high instep type of foot, which is often connected to somewhat weak ankles. Not all are like that, however it is frequently the case. The foot is beautiful, but not as strong as someone with a lesser arch and instep.

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One exercise you can do to increase the strength and stamina of your ankle position for hops is to rise to pointe facing the barre and demi-plie on pointe and then straighten. Do this several times on two feet and on each foot, singlely.

 

Once you have the correct position and the strength, the rest of it is guts. It is hard to be fearless doing this step because you are essentially jumping downward onto a lose ankle. It is very easy to flip over sideways and get a sprain. :)

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Doesnt have a variation of Giselle a lot of these hops? :-) And I saw them recently in a Bluebird variation

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Yes, Giselle now has lots of hops on pointe, courtesy of Olga Spessivtzeva. They were subsitituted for an earlier combination, which I suspect was original of many rond de jambes sautés en l'air, and another which I think was added by Petipa, of ballonnés sur pointe. All ghastly difficult to do and look good.

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I saw it recently in a student graduate performance of Rambert Ballet School. It looked pretty good :-) I suppose hops will seriously shorten the life of pointe shoes.

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Päivi,

What's a sissone fermee en pointe? I can only picture the jumping one (and don't think it's even really possible on pointe).

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A sissone fermé on pointe is just a sissone onto the pointe and then plié in 5th, the same as jumping only you relevé instead :wink:

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I saw it recently in a student graduate performance of Rambert Ballet School. It looked pretty good :-) I suppose hops will seriously shorten the life of pointe shoes.

 

About the third set of eight, you come to believe that they will shorten YOUR life!

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Ms. Leigh, I tried those excercises you mentioned after yesterday's class, and they do seem to help me find the position and placement. Doing them at the barre, and alternately moving my weight over each foot seem to be very helpful in understanding just where it needs to go to be over my leg so I can release the barre for a while. :wink: (The hops actually go surprisingly well when my weight is in the correct place. I can't do many, and I can't do them fast, but it feels like they might be actually doable with some more work :shrug: )

 

Fleetfeet, I will try the plie-straighten excercise too.

 

I now also see the possible connection between "the swan's neck foot" and difficulty hopping on pointe. A more mobile foot has more directions it can wobble to, and therefore needs extra strength and control.

 

 

Päivi

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