Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

thumb position


Recommended Posts

Well, (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) when ballet was originally performed, it was only men, women were not allowed to dance!


Early Professional Ballet


In 1661 Louis XIV established the Acad‚mie Royale de Danse, a professional organization for dancing masters. He himself stopped dancing in 1670, and his courtiers followed his example. By then the court ballet was already giving way to professional dancing. At first all the dancers were men, and men in masks danced women's roles. The first female dancers to perform professionally in a theater production appeared (1681) in a ballet called Le Triomphe de l'Amour (The Triumph of Love).


Here's a link that will tell you more:


History of Ballet

Link to comment

I don't know if the danse de style hands go all that way back, but various schools have different ways of holding the hand for the youngest students. In some, the thumb and index finger touch, in others, the thumb and first two fingers, in another, the thumb and the middle two fingers, and some others.

Link to comment

At least in baroque noble style by about 1700 the thumb is already in, pointing towards the index or third finger. The thumb does not touch the fingers, and the hand should be relaxed. This applies for both genders.


Below I've tried to include a link to a picture from an English dance instruction manual from 1728 displaying the concept of arm opposition. The picture also incidentally shows the hand position, although not very clearly. The arm that is out (not curled) is supposed to be palm up.




I can't be sure, but I think that in baroque dance manuals almost no text space is given to the arrangement of fingers.


In renaissance court dance, hand positions are not specified at all, although of course the hand should be natural and relaxed, and the thumb should not stick out. (Effortlessness was prized very highly in both renaissance and baroque dance - as it is in ballet - and any physical strain possibly felt by the dancer should be hid from the audience)



Link to comment

In Carlo Blasis' method from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the thumb was tight against the metacarpal joint, almost as in a military salute.

Link to comment

My teacher who was Russian, and was trained by a pupil of Vaganova, used to say "Thumb and middle finger friendly". The thumb thus followed the line of the middle finger with a small gap.

Link to comment

My teacher teaches the Russian technique, your "thumb and middle finger friendly" saying will help me to remember, thanks for the info!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...