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Curiosity Questions

Striving for Grace

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The topic title says it all. I'm just curious. (Je danse I blame this on your question post, look what you've started!) :thumbsup:


1) What is a kitri jump, exactly?


2) How many different types of reverences are there?


3) I've noticed that many people have a higher arabesque than their grand battement derrière. Why?


4) We rarely do arabesque ouvert but I kind of like it. When is it typically used in choreography and is it relatively common or uncommon? I don't think I've seen it is any of the ballets that I've attended.





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1) A "Kitri jump" is the one that is done with either a grand jeté or a sissonne action, where she bends back in the upper body and the back leg bends up towards her head at the top of the jump.


2) As many as there are people doing them! :thumbsup: Teachers choreograph their own in classes, and corps dancers are given bows for ballets, but the principals generally have their own in their solo bows.


3) I have no idea. Should not happen if both are done correctly.


4) No clue was arabesque ouvert is. Open arabesque? What do you mean by that? An arabesque is behind the body, specifically behind the shoulder on the side of the extended leg. Therefore, all arabesques are open positions, but not open to anywhere but straight back. The direction of the body in space changes, and one can be facing in any direction and still make an arabesque. Please clarify what you mean by arabesque ouvert.

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May I offer a possible answer to number 3?


Often in grand battement derriere, people don't move their weight forward enough (as Ms. Leigh said, should not happen if doing correctly, but often not done correctly!). Many take their torso backwards. I don't know how to explain it, but like their torso jerks backward as their leg is supposed to go up, and their leg just doesn't have enough room!

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Thanks Ms. Leigh- the curiosity has been satisfied... for the most part. Now I'm wondering if there is another name for the arabesque that one of my past teachers called ouvert. I know I've seen it in ballet books as well... I think it is in one that I own called "Both Sides of the Mirror" by Anna Paskevska. It's kind of like an attitude ouvert (as opposed to croisé). I think the main oddity is that the hips and torso as well as the face are all facing the same direction as the working leg. The arms are usually in inverted 5th. Does that make sense? I'll try to scan the pic and link it from my photobucket, or if that's not allowed I can PM the pic to you.

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You may link the photo, but it sounds to me like you are describing a front position, like maybe effacé devant?

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Ms. Leigh, I've had class since I last posted, and so I asked my technique teacher about my arabesque ouverte question. She said that indeed ouverte is a term used interchangeably with effacé. When I described the position to her, she did a few different arabesques and one of them was exactly what I was talking about. I was brand new to ballet when I first (and perhaps last, come to think of it!) did this in a class. Now that I've see her replicate it, I realize some of my explanation was incorrect, which certainly makes it difficult to provide me with an answer! Now that it's fresh in my mind:


If, for example, you start effacé to corner 2, with the right leg extended behind you in arabesque à terre and the arms in 4th en haut, the right leg lifts into arabesque. At the same time, the arms extend to allongé in 4th.


I guess to my beginner's mind that looked like arms in inverted 5th and "open" hips and an en face torso. Or perhaps that's simply what I myself did and so it's stayed in my memory as the correct position, which it clearly is not. I hope that makes more sense!


Here are some passages from Paskevska's book, describing the "ouverte" arabesques. I think she simply means that the position of origin is effacé. If there are any spelling mistakes, they're mine, not the author's :wink:


Although it is theoretically possible to perform arabesque with

a variety of arm positions, there are three basic arabesque positions

which are further qualified as either ouverte or croisée.[...]


1. First arabesque ouverte. Standing on the right leg, the body facing side

3 or corner 2, the left leg is lifted in a derrière position. The right arm is

extended in front of the body, the left arm held slightly behind the line

of the shoulder. The focus of the head is forward toward the front arm,

the eyes looking over the hand in line with the middle finger. [...]


2. Second arabesque ouverte. Standing on the right leg, the left is

extended derrière. The body faces side 3 or corner 2. The right arm is in

second position and the left in front of the body. The head is turned

toward the front, side 1. This position is also called arabesque epaulée.

The head can also stay straight looking out toward the front arm.[...]


3. Third arabesque ouverte. Standing on the right leg, the body faces side

3 or corner 2. Both arms are extended forward in third position allongé,

the upstage arm is higher. The head can be turned toward the front and

slightly tilted toward the back shoulder or look straight out over the

arms. [...]


Paskevska, Anna. Both Sides of the Mirror : The Science and Art of Ballet (2nd Edition).

Hightstown, NJ, USA: Princeton Book Company Publishers, 2004. pp. 95-96.


Copyright © 2004. Princeton Book Company Publishers. All rights reserved.


I can't wait to be able to do this stuff again outside of my mind!



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(3) Arabesque/Battement derrier requires that the back bend in response to the leg going up. If the back muscles are gripped and the back refuses to bend, the leg will only go so far up.


In grand battement derrier, you have only a fraction of a second for your back to adjust properly. In a held arabesque, you have a lot longer, and more chance to readjust to the optimal-leg-height back position.


If the two are not the same height, a good exercise I imagine might be to alternate develope derrier with grand battement derrier, working to move the foot to the same position in space each time.

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Question (3): I used to hurl my legs up with gusto in grand battements. Until my teacher pointed out to the class that we were all swinging off our supporting leg. The mirror confirmed to me that this was true and I looked awful! So now I'm very careful that my supporting leg remain rigid - hence unimpressive height in grand battments and I am not challenging my flexibility. Whereas with arabesque I have the time to push for maximum height (not much in my case!)

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