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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Falling during performance


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DD and I were at a performance at SFB watching Paquita. One of the dancers, I forgot who, fell off of pointe and came down hard. She popped back up so fast it barely had time to register that she actually fell. It was her facial expression that gave her away. She looked very disgusted with herself.

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Margaret Illman was with the National Ballet of Canada and the first dancer to appear onstage to open the program for the Stars of the 21st Century International Ballet Gala at the (then) O'Keefe Centre in Toronto 10 years ago.


She ran in, did a leap, and thudded to the floor, smack on her rear end. Of course, she got right up and continued and performed a gorgeous pas de deux. I thought it was quite a flamboyant way to open a show! She has always been a powerful jumper. :party:

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By now, it is clear to see that everyone falls at one time or another. But a fall in the "big performance" is certainly unnerving. My middle daughter was performing the lead in the big end of the year SAB workshop performance a few years ago. Of course, all of the SAB kids feel like those performances are life and death. My DD came out with lots of energy, took a big kick and fell flat on her bottom. She hopped right back up and kept going with a big smile on her face. Many people in the audience actually missed the fall even though it seemed to last forever to me. (Mothers always worry most) She didn't seem to be bothered by it. The NY Times review mentioned her fall and said that she "recovered with a star's aplomb." She went on to get and accept the contract offer that she wanted. So, the fall didn't affect the outcome at all. And you are right, the audience usually applauds even louder for those who have overcome the adversity of a fall and gone on to finish the performance. Your daughter shouldn't feel that a fall will affect future opportunities. It shouldn't at all.

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This thread just reminded me about something a male student dancer (now a principal dancer with a large regional ballet company) once said to me at his last performance as a student. His comment was that he'd never fallen on stage and that he was building up a phobia about it. He wished he'd just fall and get it over with! He said he knew it was inevitable but that he had no experience with it as a student and wished he had, so he wouldn't carry that fear into his professional life.


That was many years ago. If I ever see him again, you can be sure I'll ask if he's fallen yet! :party:

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The responses by everyone have been just incredible and have made my daughter feel better. It's funny how clueless we are over here about these situations until you talk to a dancer. They will tell you..."it's part of it" Of course you don't strive to fall or become careless but if it happens deal with it and move on.

It has been understood by my daughter that it is part of the process of becoming the dancer she wants to become. In retrospect she said that after she fell and got off the stage she said took a few deep breaths and said to herself: I fell , I have to do it so much better, I have no other choice.

You have been truly, really, amazing. THANKS


I keep writing to add to my posts. :flowers:

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At a recent competition, DD walked onstage, and stepped confidently into her starting pose for Kitri, and as her front foot  touched down, she slid at high speed right into a split.  Judges comment tape said, "never seen anyone begin Kitri that way!"  Two years ago, in her last recital at her old studio, parents were videotaping dressrehearsal.  DD was the center dancer in a 9 girl kick line on pointe, slipped, and took down the ENTIRE line.  Dramatic tumbling which was taped by EVERYONE~  Two years ago at Grand prix competition, a male dancer was doing the dramatic tours to finish his variation.  He had some serious height in his turns, and when he neared the backdrop, got a little too close to it, turned in the air, hit it full force, and rolled sideways down it.  He hit the floor with an audible thump, got up, shook his head, said "duuuude", and finished his variation with a goofy smile.  Our competitors loved his response so much they begged for a video tape, and got his autograph.  Falls happen to everyone.  Cry, laugh, and move on.

I so love this post, especially the Kitri and boy dancer bit :angry: . I even told non-dance friends about it, and they all laugh and it makes the kids feel so much better - thank you! :P Fiz

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My favorite teacher, Basil Thompson, always told us "Any fall you can walk away from is a good fall." How true that is... It means you took a risk, dared to try, pushed a little farther... And as long as you can get up and walk away to dance another day that was a good fall!

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My daughter fell in a company school Spring Performance several years ago and like others have mentioned, she popped back up and went right on. HOwever, she was devastated afterwards and more mad than sad.


I will never forget the kindness of the associated pro company's asst. AD (former principal at NYCB) who came backstage and proceeded to tell her numerous stories about her own 'falls', including a fall right at the beginning of her first solo with NYCB, another fall that slid her offstage literally at the feet of Mr. Balanchine, another where her partner had to hoist her up during a pas fall and on and on. She told them with such energy and made them all sound so funny and then said to my daughter, "Now you are a REAL dancer! If you are pushing yourself to be your best, it is going to happen from time to time."


Nothing I or anyone else could have said would have had such an impact on my daughter's thinking about taking a tumble. While no one wants to fall or slip or fall out of a pirouette, etc., it is a very important lesson for those who want to continue in this art that is, after all, done LIVE! :thumbsup:

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I agree with balletbooster completely in regards to what moms can say at a moment like this. This is precisely why I put this thread because I knew she wouldn't be alone. These stories and insights have been pure magic because today she talked about her fall more lightly. And was even able to smile a bit about it.

In a while she will laugh about it. I hope. I think she AND I have learned an awful lot about this aspect of the dancing experience. Like everything in life, it is not about the fall but it is about what happens after the fall. :yucky:

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knock, knock, adult student here!


These stories are very encouraging to me. I fell in a performance this summer. It was a really silly fall because all I did was pique not turning adn developpe front. My supporting leg scooted out from under me and I ended up sitting down really hard on that leg with my other leg straight in front. I managed to get up and finish the dance, though my pointe work was much more careful. I was told that I looked sort of stunned as I fell, and I sat for a few seconds until I could hear the music (falling took away my sense of hearing for a few seconds) and know what I should be doing in the dance. I had a small dime-sized bruise on my derriere but no major damage, luckily. I was completely recovered in 1 week from the bruise, which didn't hurt, though it was purple. One teacher was watching in the audience and he put his head down and didn't watch after I fell! He was so scared that someone else was going to get really hurt.


I danced snow in Nutcracker this year, which was last weekend. We have a machine that makes liquid snowflakes. Our AD wanted to "make it snow" about halfway through our dance, but that left noticeable puddles on the marley because the snow wasn't evaporating as it should before it hit the marley. I helped convince her to just make it snow at the end after we were finished with the major pointe work, and this worked just fine, and no one fell. Our issues with the "snowflakes" wetting the stage did make me realize that I was overreacting and that I have a little fear of falling left over from when I fell before. These stories are helping me get past that fear and realize that falling happens to everyone!

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Not a parent, but I've got a teen's point of veiw on taking a big spill onstage. Within the first two weeks of classes, I had earned the title of 'the ballerina' in the dance department at my school. The student/faculty choreography concert in the winter was my first time to shine. Usually performance in this concert was reserved for sophomores and up, but both myself and one other talented freshman were given the chance to perform. In the middle of a piece on pointe, I hit a gap in the marley. Would have been no biggie except that it was during a sissone ouverte on releve and I had been instructed to just whack my leg up as far as I could so my weight wasn't totally over my supporting leg. My supporting foot shot right out from under me and I went down. I was mortified. Luckily it was a contemporary piece and one of my friends in the audience actually thought that it was planned (I'm still not sure if she was just being nice) and I was able to make a quick recovery. The worst part was having to get back onstage and perform it again the next night.

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*knock knock*


I almost wiped out last night during the Flowers finale. We're doing it with 4 people instead of the usual 5 and I have extra ground to cover during a tricky turning seqence. I went to pique into soutenu and didn't get all the way onto pointe, so my foot slid right out from under me. I was right in front, and heard an audince member exclaim "oh boy" or something to that effect. It was actually kinda funny, and I recovered easily.


I hope I didn't look panic-stricken. I have no idea what my face did.

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Not a parent, but have stories to share:


Our floor for this year's Nutcracker has not exactly been sticky. It seems that no matter what we try it's still slick as ice, but we've had time to get used to it now and it's going better. We had our first two performances this weekend. On Saturday, I was doing Snow Queen and the pas went almost without a hitch, but then during the actually Waltz, I came out to do a section of 16 pique turns and on about the 13th one slipped on the accumulating snow on the back of the stage and almost wiped out (thankfully, I caught myself and kept going and finished still with a double lame duck...phew!)


Two years ago, we did Serenade and there is a part when 4 of us came into the center to do a little jump and go to the opposite corner of the stage. I literally tripped my friend, Julie, and she fell flat on her face, but she got up so fast, hardly anyone even noticed she had fallen...needless to say, I felt terrible!


And lastly, during yesterday's performance of Nutcracker, during curtain call, our Dew Drop came out for her bow doing a saute arabesque and completely slipped and fell! She and all of us laughed about it and she got up and bowed nicely...it kind of gave the audience a break!

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I love your story, Ellebelle!


It reminds me of how the wonderful support of the other dancers can help anyone through a fall! When my dd was Clara several years ago, she fell during the Grandfather's dance -- a dance near the end of first act when the boys are "reluctantly" partnering the girls.


The pairs were just kind of sashaying (or chasse-ing, I guess), and when she slipped on a slippery spot, her partner instantly decided to slip and fall down with her -- making it funny and also purposely making it look like it was supposed to happen. A more gallant and kind gesture I have never seen, and it is one of my many heartwarming Nutcracker memories!

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