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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Homework question


Laschwen

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Not when it is very low, but when it reaches 90º, yes. Take a look at the position in the mirror from a front and a side view with the arm behind the leg. You will see.

 

Thank you, Ms. Leigh. I'm finding new turnout AND extension this year -- just little glimpses so far -- so 90º is happening occasionally. I'll watch at my next class.

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If you draw one line on the ground from left-to-right that passes through your toe, and another parallel to it that passes through your heel --- then those lines will not be the same line, unless you have 180-degree turnout. But that's OK, I was taught to move the toe along the toe-line (i.e. directly sideways) in tendu. For those of us without 180-degree turnout, the toe (and leg) will be a little bit in front of the hips when it gets to the tendu position.

 

Once the leg leaves the floor in grand battement, I believe it may have to adjust a little in front of the toe-line, I'm not sure. But the idea is that it should move sideways, regardless of your degree of rotation.

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If you have to move the arm more than just a little to accommodate the leg, you are not doing the grand battement directly to the side. If you do the grand battement directly side, you probably find that your turnout limits how high your leg can go. More turnout = higher extension to the side, and by the time your leg gets high enough to interfere with your arm, it should also be turned out enough so that it goes behind the arm. In ballet, if the legs go so high they interfere with the arms, it is the arms that take precedence, so you have to either lower the leg or move it out of the way of the arms.

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If you draw one line on the ground from left-to-right that passes through your toe, and another parallel to it that passes through your heel --- then those lines will not be the same line, unless you have 180-degree turnout. But that's OK, I was taught to move the toe along the toe-line (i.e. directly sideways) in tendu. For those of us without 180-degree turnout, the toe (and leg) will be a little bit in front of the hips when it gets to the tendu position.

 

Once the leg leaves the floor in grand battement, I believe it may have to adjust a little in front of the toe-line, I'm not sure. But the idea is that it should move sideways, regardless of your degree of rotation.

 

:shrug: I'm confused here, are you saying that your leg would raise directly to the side of your body even if your turnout is not 180 degrees? Wouldn't it ideally follow the diagonal line drawn from heel through your toes and follow that line through the air as you extend your leg upward, which would be keeping the level of turnout throughout the upward extension? Extending it directly sideways would mean that your knees would turn inward as you reached beyond your turnout, or alternately, your hips would have to torque sideways to accomodate that line of travel. Either one of which would be improper technique and potentially damaging to ones joints.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your explanation.

 

Here's a good way to determine the ideal line of travel for a person's level of turn out. Lying on the floor bring one of your legs up to where your grande battement devant would be. Slowly rotate and turn out as much as possible while still keeping both hips in contact with the floor, bring your leg as far to the side of your body while still keeping your turnout. The point where you cannot travel any further without raising your opposite hip off of the floor or turning your working knee inward is your ideal seconde position en l`air, and therefore the position of your extended grande battement a la seconde. Most likely it is not directly to the side of your body or your leg would be lying on the floor next to you. It would most likely be somewhat in front of your body. (That is, if your turn out is not 180 degrees, otherwise it could be lying on the floor next to you.)

 

Looking down on the floor it would look like this: oooo=diagonal line through foot that is on a properly turned out leg and the path that it should travel through the air. (depending on the degree of turn-out)

_______=line drawn left to right through toes of foot and heel of foot directly to the side of the body.

 

 

 

o o

o o

o o

_____________o\ /o_____________________

________________ \********/________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that didn't turn out well! :thumbsup: I had the lines drawn up properly but something was lost in translation :thumbsup:

 

Oh well, can we all use our imagination?

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yeah, i'm still confused because it seems there are differing opinions :-P

i'll just ask my rl teachers :)

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Now I've a question too.. when I do grande battement, I kick above 90 degrees, but it's along the path of my idealized second position. Should I be following the path of my actual turnout as the leg goes up?

 

I think a teacher once said in reference to the how high that it doesn't matter if you're not following actual turnout since it's not a weight-bearing exercise and won't harm your knee.

 

Thoughts?

 

I believe that you should follow the path of your ideal second, which is also the path of your actual turnout. Otherwise you will run into that hip joint somewhere up the in the air and something will have to give in. You'll either turn your leg inward or you will torque your hip, sometimes both, either of which is very dangerous for your joints and just looks ugly. I guess I would prefer proper placement rather than height.

 

As for the teacher saying it wouldn't hurt your knee: That may be true at the barre until center work when you fall to the ground after losing your balance when your hip shifts sideways and your standing knee buckles beneath you. That would definitely hurt at least one of your knees if not something else, especially if you're en pointe. :thumbsup: Which leads me to my next thought.

 

Everything done in ballet needs to be "in balance". If you can't keep your balance while you're doing it then it is wrong. Doing grande battements en pointe in the center will show you precisely how proper your technique is up to that point. If you learned it correctly a terre, then in releve and then en pointe without having to change much in your hip area then you know that you've learned it right. Good ole pointe shoes find the flaws quick enough everytime!

 

At least, this is how I was taught.

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The fundamental issue here is that turnout (rotation) is a LOT more complex than we give it credit for. It's one thing to rotate the leg around its own axis. It's something different to move the leg sideways. These are two different mechanics, both of which we call classify under the term "turnout." But they involve engaging different muscles and stretching different muscles, and different factors limit the range of motion in each case.

 

Movement of the leg happens in three dimensions, which is difficult to describe in any case.

 

I'll use myself as an example of the difference here. My legs (femurs) will only rotate so far in first or fifth position (certainly not 180 degrees). That's the first kind of turnout, rotating the leg around its axis. I've aligned things about as well as they can go, and probably bone structure prevents further turnout of this kind. However, in retire, my knee points almost 90 degrees to the side. The limiting factor here is no longer bones, but the degree of stretch across the front of my pelvis. Same thing with tendu side --- it's a big stretch through the muscles and pelvis.

 

One common consequence of this difference is that second position is easier than first position for most people. And second position in plie (which is basically an attempt to move one's knees sideways) is easier than second position with legs straight. And the the hardest part of second position plie move is straightening the legs while trying to maintain/achieve a rotation-around-the-axis that is commensurate with the knee-sideways you while in plie --- in other words to prevent your legs from rotating in as you straighten the legs.

 

Another consequence of these two kinds of turnout: in moving your leg to the side, there is a certain amount of tradeoff you can get between the two. In a la second, you can usually rotate the leg further around its axis by moving it forward a bit, and get it more sideways by lessening the rotation around the axis. Which degree of tradeoff between these two is right for you should be determined with your teacher, of course.

 

Remember that tendu means STRETCH. If you're moving your leg in the heel-to-toe line, you will not get much of a stretch in tendu, certainly not along your inner thigh or across the front of your hips.

 

I looked at my own body this week in relation to this thread: my big toe moves directly sideways in tendu. But when it moves further out and has to come off the floor into degage or grand battement, the toe moves forward somewhat --- but only as much as it needs to, given the muscle structure I'm dealing with. I am able to move my leg sideways to a much greater degree than I am able to point my toes sideways on the ground beneath me. Further complicating the matter, I am able to (and therefore do) achieve additional rotation of my leg around its axis the further out my leg moves from my body going into a la seconde.

 

So the short answer is: the line from heel to toe is irrelevant when determining the line the toe and leg should move through when moving the leg sideways. In tendu, you should first rotate the leg as much as possible around its axis (while maintaining the rotation of the standing leg as well), and then move the leg as close to sideways as possible (while maintaining rotation in the standing leg, not distorting your hips, etc --- actually, keeping everything held). That will maximize turnout in both senses. The two can be traded off against each other, on the ground and in the air, and you should work on achieving the right balance. Whatever the tradeoff, there should be stretch along the inner thigh and across the front of the hips.

 

The shorter answer: always maximize turnout and stretch and rotation and knee-sideways without distorting anything or rotating below your knees. Then you will be maximizing the use of your turnout. But this takes years to develop, of course.

 

I'm confused here, are you saying that your leg would raise directly to the side of your body even if your turnout is not 180 degrees?

Not quite, but almost. If your toe is 3" in front of your heels when you're standing in first position, then it will still be 3" in front of your heels in tendu --- and not much more than 3" in front of your heels in grand battement or rond de jambe en l'air. Due to the geometry, 3" under your legs could be 20 degree off of 90, but 3" in front of your heels en tendu may be only 10 degrees off of 90.

 

Here's a good way to determine the ideal line of travel for a person's level of turn out...

 

I agree. Moving the leg sideways through tendu and into a la second will also get your legs into this position of maximum to-the-side turnout. Either way, the angle measured between your torso and your leg in this position will be different than the angle measured between your heels and toes in first position.

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Mazenderan

I agree, spinbug. I don't understand the point of a grande battement that is beyond your own turn-out. It'll only turn in, and potentially strain the hip.

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I don't understand the point of a grande battement that is beyond your own turn-out.

 

Sigh... I'm absolutely NOT advocating such a maneuver. I'm simply saying that turnout is very complex, and that one should make the most of it. The geometry is very complex, not to mention the anatomy underlying that geometry. If you (carefully) play around with your own body and see how it moves in three dimensions, you will see that turnout is complex. Turnout is even MORE complex if (like everyone) legs don't move in the 180-degree fashion. Please at least try what I've described, in slow motion without straining your body, before dismissing it out of hand.

 

In the end, things one is taught in class are always an approximation of how it really works inside. We have hundreds of bones and muscles, and they all work together when we dance, and there is just no way to use words to adequately describe what happens. That's why teachers watch over students --- so they can use a progressive series of inexact approximate words and concepts to achieve a progressive series of increasingly good approximations over time.

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Let me try explaining this one more time. If you have, say, 90º of turnout and you raise your leg to the level of your waist following the line of your toes, the leg will not be side. It will be somewhere between front and side, a position that does not really exist in ballet. A person raising his/her leg directly side without 180º of turnout will find that beyond a certain height, his/her leg is no longer turned out. At that point, the leg cannot go any higher, and it will not be anywhere near high enough to interfere with the placement of the arm. So if you can only raise your leg to 45º to the side without losing your turnout, your extension for any step, including grand battement, is 45º. As your turnout improves, you will be able to raise your leg higher to the side, and in order to raise the leg to, say, 135º (the approximate point at which it would start to interfere with the arm in 2nd) one must have about 180º of turnout, which enables the leg to pass behind the arm with perhaps just a very slight adjustment of the arm.

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A person raising his/her leg directly side without 180º of turnout will find that beyond a certain height, his/her leg is no longer turned out.

 

I think you're describing the tradeoff between the degree of rotation of the leg around itself and the degree to which it has moved sideways. Since it is often not absolutely necessary to have the knee pointing to the back wall in a la seconde --- in fact, pointing to the ceiling is usually OK, but certainly the minimum acceptable rotation --- then that leaves a lot of leeway to the degree of sideways one can place the leg.

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Rotation has to be achieved in order for the leg to lift past a certain height without distorting the rest of the alignment because of the construction of the hips, period. In classical ballet the leg should be rotated and should be as close to one's side as one can get as Hans described.

 

 

I don't think there's any further discussion merited here, because now we're beating grand battment to death. We're done now. Move on. :)

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Victoria Leigh

I don't even remember what the original question was! However, I think it has been answered, and debating this any further is redundant. Thank you for closing it, Clara 76.

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