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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Lines of action and turning


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Relative to my ability level, turning is my strength. I love doing it. The other day in my home class I was doing a combination that included en dehors pirouettes. Mine were not good. I repeated the combination and again the same thing. The dreaded leaning back syndrome. This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. My experience has been that when I try to correct it, I can’t and when I persist in trying the result is a stream of cursing rather than decent pirouettes. Long ago I learned that it was just better to quit. Usually the next day I would be fine anyway.


Since last September, one of the modern classes I take has emphasized Lulu Sweigard’s lines of action. These essentially are lines of energy that promote good alignment. We have begun every class by imaging these lines of action and I have done so as best I could during class and practice. I’d guess that now I can feel those lines of action with just minimal thought (still not routine habit, however).


The second time I did that pirouette combination, I did feel that one of the lines of action, the shrinking of the line from shoulder to shoulder at the front of the body was out of whack. In my mind it was quite noticeable. Typically, during a pirouette I image the back. I tried the pirouette again, this time imaging only shortening the distance between the shoulders at the front of the body. It worked. I did a few more pirouettes keeping the same image. All good. I did the combination again, all good pirouettes.


That was the first time as far as I can recall that I have ever been able to fix a pirouette immediately. Perhaps I would have returned to normal on the third repetition anyway, I don’t know.


Just a commercial for those lines of action.

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This sounds like an interesting approach. Is it similar to imagery (e.g. Franklin method)? Would love to read more about it.

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Sounds like a logical extension of Graham's "radiation from a center" mixed with some curlicues from Cunningham. But that's good.

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This all sounds Martian to me. Any good references available to find out what exactly is referred to here? :clapping:



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Great commercial Garyecht, I am definitely interested to go shopping for classes on this! :clapping:


Chinafish: I just found some information about Lulu Sweigard's ideas here http://www.ideokinesis.com/pioneers/sweigard/sweigard.htm (the picture with the skeleton and the 9 lines is a bit like the muscular sensations on one of the first pages of Gretchen Ward Warren's Classical Ballet Technique) and here http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~t656_web/Sprin...ideokinesis.htm .




Relative to my ability level, turning is my strength.

I know I'm a bit obsessed with language, but I just love this sentence. :clapping:

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Thank you for the links. She makes quite a few references to Franklin, it all makes sense.

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Sounds like there's a lot of parallel development in a lot of places. Not only Graham, but Wigman, and Laban's ideas resonate with this information as well. And of course, the well-trained ballet teacher, even if s/he hasn't actually been directly instructed in this particular epistemology, will recognize the points immediately.

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Everything I’ve learned about lines of action, I’ve learned in modern classes. There is a description given in Eric Franklin’s Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance (p. 234-235). He discusses them with regard to what he calls constructive rest. Interestingly, it seems to me that what we do in class is a little different from what seems to be in the figure on page 235. We always image:


A line of energy going from the top of the head straight up.

A line of energy going from the sternum to the base of the skull.

A widening across the upper back and the back of the pelvis

A narrowing of the line from shoulder to shoulder in front of the body

A narrowing of the front of the hips

A line of energy from the knee to the hip socket

Lines of energy arcing from the big toe to the heel (arcing in both directions)


And most importantly


A bicycle chain running up the front of the body and down the back.

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I am going to a Franklin workshop in a few weeks, this should be fun :D

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