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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Spelling Demons

Mel Johnson

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Go Coyote, you have mentioned a phenomenon that I've noticed too! My daughter grew up at a company school where the AD and several others danced at NYCB and/or trained at SAB. When saying New York City Ballet or School of American Ballet, these folks pronounced it BAL - A, with emphasis on the first syllable. It is my assumption that someone adopted this pronunciation way back when (maybe Mr. Balanchine) and it stuck for those who worked with him. :sleeping:

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Actually, in the international usage of pilots, "Roger" just means, "I heard that", and is followed by the aircraft identification number. Practically obsolete, but still out there is "Wilco". It's short for "will comply", to be used if you have received instructions under visual flight rules (usually), because under instrument conditions, you read every instruction back to the controller, word for word, followed by the aircraft ID number.


As for all lower case, that's been done. e e cummings did it, but only after he had clearly demonstrated that he knew very well what the rules were and could practically tapdance through the grammar and spelling books. Mr. cummings was a writer in the 19-teens and twenties. Old hat.

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..... About the differences between USA and UK - what about pronunciation? When I hear ballet pronounced 'ba-LAAY' I usually think of USA, NYCB in particular for some reason ...... When I hear 'BA-lay' I think of UK ballet. Occasionally I hear a version of 'BA-lay' pronounced 'bally' which is kind of specific to the Royal Bally I think! :angry:


Bally is common in the North of England although I don't say it like that!

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Oh, dear. Is it e e and not e.e.? I was just about to lay the blame squarely at his feet for doing away with capitalization, but I see you beat me to it. This week an acquaintance misspelled the name of a company with which he is dancing. I was horrified. Some of us work so hard to dance and have performing opportunities, and he couldn't be bothered to get the company name right? Fie! His come-uppance was that the resulting company name was sadly comical and has since earned him a new nickname!

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I can't say, but one thing bothers me about the "Crossword Puzzle" sections I could see. American crossword puzzle rules are:

  1. Regular, symmetrical grid.
  2. No uncrossed letters.
  3. No words with fewer than three letters.

From the looks of the grids, 1 & 2 seem to be in BIG trouble, and it makes me wonder what else they've half-stepped on.

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mute v. moot


mute – adjective 1. silent; refraining from speech or utterance. 2. not emitting or having sound of any kind. 3. incapable of speech; dumb.


moot – adjective 1. open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful: a moot point. 2. of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.

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  • 1 year later...

Old thread here but I do have a comment or two...

Last time I had my computer "tuned up" I found my spell check was activated. It now finds all sorts of typos and misspellings. Sadly, it does not seem to know any 300 year old French ballet terminology.

I was trying to think which of my classes taught the spellings and meanings of the terms but it all a bit fuzzy after so many years.

I had to have learned some in High School. We had to do research on Ballet History there so it would seem unlikely not to have learned terminology as well.

There was a blackboard in the studio in high school.....we must have had things written down.

There may have been written tests in College classes too. All I really remember is skill tests.

I say this because nobody is teaching terminology with spelling in my adult classes. I do learn new terms in there sometimes but may-be adults are expected to already know these things???he

Somebody taught me Tendu means to stretch, and somebody taught me Fondu is to melt. I doubt that last one had anything to do with food.

There go those red marks indicating bad spelling. I am glad I noticed an "add to dictionary" function for these things.

This poor computer doesn't know anything about anatomy or physiology either.

I do wish my computer had a "correct my grammar function." I am a product of some experimental education in the late 60's and early 70's that left out a lot of grammar. I got some of what I missed in French class, and some from a highly educated brother in law who apparently enjoys correcting other adults. We try to discourage him. It doesn't do anything for him socially.

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I have just discovered this thread, and I must say I love it - I currently teach English in France... :P

I have been wondering about Jimpickle's "shasma"...could it be chassé ?

I am probably guilty of many spelling mistakes, and I must admit I often don't know whiwh is the american word and which is the british one, because I read american and english books...my only excuse is that I am not a native speaker...


a funny one : last night on TV, I was watching the French equivalent of Channel 4's "Come dine with me"...the journalist and all the guests, and even the host kept talking of "trifle" pronounce "tree-fleu" ...It took me five minutes to understand what he was talking about !

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You'll hear no discent from this corner!


(Quick, now, kids, what's the word that's not spelled correctly, and what should it be?)


de scent? What you do to a pet skunk.

di cent? Is this giving your two cents worth?

decent? Yes I am!


Oh, yes, dissent!




My pet peeve is misspelling someone's name. Even the educated ones get this wrong:



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And to add, when you study in the Cecchetti system you are taught, and graded on:


1. The name of the movements in French,

2. The correct pronunciation of the name in French,

3. The meaning of the French terms as translated into English and the correct spelling.


Each student is given a syllabus booklet for that grade and is expected to memorize it. So, one is also expected to be able to read the phrasing and to decipher what it means.



Having a ballet dictionary in the loo helps immensely! :P

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When I took ballet as a little kid we all got a notebook at the beginning of the year with a picture of the class glued on the first page. Whenever we learned a new step, we got a drawing of it which we had to glue in and write the name of the step underneath. I really like that idea for the younger ones.

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We all breathe. You can hold your breath if you want to. But you don't breath in and out.


At one of the schools I attend, I have to grit my teeth every time the teacher says "combre" (with a long 'o') for "cambre" and "tahnt leeay" instead of "tohn leeay." And yes, she distinctly says the 't' in that phrase. Grrr...


In our local newspaper a couple of years ago, there was one of those useless pieces of info that read like this: ".....when children rebelled, the parents bared the blame 90% of the time..." I'm not making this up. And it wasn't a typo, because it was repeated several times in the paragraph. Where, oh where, was the copy editor???



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"Where, oh where, was the copy editor???"


Probably been sacked. Saves money.



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