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"cheating" on turnout when leg is in the air

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Raising this topic for social discussion among adults, not asking for specific instruction.


So it is interesting to me.... and I was too busy with shows last weekend to post and ask.

How many of you do "cheat" on grande battements or attitudes kicks. As in, when feet on floor, there's the directional turnout line from heel to toe, and when when feet is on the air.. are your legs still on that line?


Based on spinbug's suggestion, I tried doing the grandebattement in center along my idealized second, and sure enough I could maintain balance. Even though my turnout in the air was greater (only a few degrees, so hips aren't all over the place).

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Here you go:

"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!"

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Great job on your balance, Ripresa!


I had a pretty detailed explanation of line of trajectory versus hip rotation and my thoughts on the ideal ballet technique of grande battements to second. Then I realized the word "social" and not wanting "specific instruction" so I scrapped it all! :shrug:


Although I think balance problems can uncovers flaws in ballet technique, you can do some funky non-balletic things whilst still keeping your balance. I think they call that hip-hop, don't they? :D


Just kidding everyone!

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Well, I understand the temptation to just throw your leg up, but then I feel my hip going & my buttocks shifting & sticking out, and I think "Oooo wrong muscles getting developed; no line; not good" and I think about hips in place and rotated femur in the hip socket and THEN trying to trace an arc in the air with my toes. Much more satisfying.


I do a lot of contemporary (modern in US terminology) along with classical ballet, and even then, there's a precision & detail to getting a la seconde extensions. It's the skill and the sense of achievement of getting above hip height extensions AND proper alignment & rotation that I'm after!!

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I do a lot of contenporary (modern in US terminology) along with classical ballet...


Good then, I'm glad that I didn't say "modern ballet" like I was at first... :lol:


Feeling rather "fiendish" right now :devil: I think it's time to go wash my car.



Seriously, rotation outward whilst still extending upward is always acceptable in ballet as long as the hip alignment doesn't adjust for it. It just means that your turn out muscles are being used dynamically throughout the movement. Sometimes we think of turn out as a static thing we just "have". Truthfully, it's more of a verb and it is meaningless unless we learn how to use it while we are moving.


Turning the knee inward is usually not acceptable in ballet unless it is specifically called for say, in modern ballet :devil: . And then hardly ever in an extension like seconde en lair, as it is somewhat dangerous. (I guess the dangerous part is just my observation) Usually turning inward means that you are lacking somewhere in the musculature and ligaments or in structural elements(hip joint, pelvis). It doesn't mean that a person is "incapable", it just means that a grande battement at a height that is greater than the dancer's ability to support properly, (as in dynamic turn-out, same plane of travel of the working leg, keeping the hip stable and secure, etc.) is not the ideal aesthetic one is shooting for in ballet. With time, strength developement etc. a dancer may see great strides in extension while still keeping good technique.


The height of the leg really isn't that important, even if it does make us feel like a better dancer. And yes, I'm including myself in there because I'm still wanting my leg up by my head like the girl on the cover of latest Pointe magazine. :o A very beautiful and proper placement of a 90 degree grande battement is still a wonder to behold and worth every ounce of praise and glory we can give it. We don't all have to be virtuosos!


So, I'm not sure if I addressed the "cheating" issue but I gave it a stab.


Tune in next time for my thoughts on line of trajectory and travelling within the same plane, if you can stay awake for it. I can't overwhelm you all at once. :yawn:

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Hahah.. Spinbug, you're a riot.


But I like your point about turnout being a verb!


Your post reminded me of the audition scene in Centerstage, when the American Ballet Academy auditioners were looking at Jodie, which went something like:


"What about that girl?"

"Poor turnout, bad feet."

"But look at her."

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I'm not sure where the idea of cheating comes in here. I am absolutely against cheating. If you twist your lower leg, or distort your hips in the grand battement, or have your knee pointing front, then you are cheating. But simply moving your leg to the side is not cheating your turnout, it is just using your body.

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I can only suggest doing grande battements to the side (a la seconde) in center. Your turnout will help maintain your balance. I'm terrible with front and back battements, very little turnout at the top of the battement.



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Well, I've been giving myself a giant headache mulling over this issue and trying things with my body.


I'm starting tendu to the side with my feet in a very "conservative" first position that a beginner may use. More than 90 degrees, but far less that 180 degrees. If I do a tendu by merely following the trajectory of my foot, in a diagonal line forward, I don't feel my turnout muscles engage. If I tendu just barely pushing the limits of a "control zone"..ie further to the side, and actively rotate BOTH the standing and working legs, I find muscle engagement and an increased range.


I believe that the tendu establishes the degree to which your leg needs to come forward of your body, and it only need to be forward enough to have the heel in line with the toes. Therefore, no more than the length of your foot:) After that, the leg can travel in a straight path to the side for movement and extensions.


Yes, lifting the hip and turning in are "cheating" and never acceptable for classical ballet.

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Lampwick. I think you've basically said it all!


I too have been working along my tendu into the grande battement to experiment. You've actually got to keep trying for the flat second -- pushing your own area of control so as to train that muscle memory correctly in developing turn out. I think that's where the exercise Spinbug suggests might find your area of extension in second, but a grande battement has to come from the contact with the floor of the tendu.


I think MJ's comment about working on grande battement in the centre is excellent. When I get to that bit of a class, gosh, does it show whether or not I have secure control of my pelvic girdle, alignment and turnout -- particularly when we do them on demi pointe !! I find that I work on that by almost deliberately lowering the height of my legs so I'm really secure with turn out & placement -- or rather, my focus is on turn out & keeping the hips in alignment so as to stay upright. I learn then how much I've been "cheating" without realising it.


It's quite a different impetus and energy, so should be worked on through the tendu -- because, as we know, the tendu and the grande battement are actually exercises in preparation for choreographic steps such as the assemblé, the grande jeté, the cabriole, and so on. On their own, tendu and grand battement are rarely used in choreography.


Spinbug, I glossed my usage because this is an international board and I', awar that what we call "contemporary" dance in the UK and Europe is generally called "modern" in the US. And I wanted to be clear that I wasn't talking about contemporary or modern ballet, but the dance form that broke away from classical ballet at the start of the 20th century and has since developed on its own trajectory. In some forms of contemporary (eg Graham) turn out is stil sed, and even in Release technique (which might be seen as the least like classical ballet), turn out s used and trained.


So ripresa, yes, I suppose we all may be guilty of "cheating" as Spinbug says, to "look" like a dancer, but I think we all know it's not ballet.


As Lampwick says so simply and truly "lifting the hip and turning in are "cheating" and never acceptable for classical ballet."

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It's sad to see that a thread completely devoted to technique has ended up on the buddy board, whereas one about dancewear and shaving legs has ended up in the "technique" forum.

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I think I've completely missed something, as I'm also not sure why this isn't on the technique forum. I've been totally swamped with work and personal obligations lately, so I think I'm missing out on more dance-related things than I would like... I know, I know... cry me a river.


Seriously though, looking back at the thread that ripresa linked to, Hans, lampwick, and citibob make this issue pretty clear. Let me start with a few disclaimers:


I'm nowhere near flexible. I by that, I mean, I've danced most of my life, I stretch and I work and I stretch and I work.... it's difficult, every inch, every millimeter of flexibility I've achieved is a major milestone. I've some facility for turnout, but really tight hips and thus it's also a lot of work.


I confess to cheating at a certain stage in my dancing life. 'Cheating' without knowing I was, in attempt to feel like I was a 'proper' dancer with 'dancer flexibility'. Honestly folks, I did myself loads of harm. I tried all sorts of 'tricks' - slight alignment adjustments, letting my leg go more forward than it should (we have A La Secondbesque.... Well, there's also an ugly position that's just T'aint: It ain't devant, It ain't seconde, and it most definitely ain't pretty.)


Lampwick's description of ecarte that isn't ecarte is great. As is Hans' point about what positions exist in ballet. Ballet is at once about geometry as it is about movement. Our bodies don't just 'hit' positions, but carve them out through the process of getting to the position and moving on from them - that clarity and pristineness of movement is what this type of dance is all about.


So yes, turnout is a verb, not a position. But it exists in two ways that need to work together. The leg rotates in the socket in order to make the 'feet' turn out, but it also rotates in the socket to carve out space through movement. The aim is to be able to draw the largest arc/circle possible.


Here, one can see the issue that lampwick, Hans, and citybob describe. It is one thing to do as lampwick and citybob explain, and to move the leg directly to the side along the toe line. It is another thing to draw a pathway that goes through the foot from heel to toe, without 180 degree rotation of the 'feet' (forgive me, I'm using 'feet' here to make a point - but I fully understand that it is the leg that turns out...). If one moves the leg along that line, it is too far forward.


As I noted above, I've worked along that line before. It did me no favours. Not only was the line ugly, but it also allows for slack, and didn't lend itself to improvement. Yes, we're all adult dancers, most of us recreational, but we embark on this endeavour in seriousness with the hope to improve constantly. The way we do that is by working towards ideals. Thus, I think the exercise of laying on the ground and essentially placing your leg in second en l'air is not really the 'ideal' that we should work for. Rather, we should lower the leg to get it as near to the ideal of completing the movement arc around the body, and work from there to improve both types of turnout as the leg moves higher and higher from the ground.


Let's think of my favourite turnout exercise: rond d'jambe a terre. Here, the leg should move in an arc away from the body in the largest circle possible. If done correctly, this should be one of the hardest exercises at barre, as it works turnout in both ways. Too many people cut short the the arc between seconde and derriere, and also allow for the leg to turn in within that arc. Too many also forget the importance of the constant oppositional turnout of the so-called standing side (which will help immensely in balance, on flat, demi, or pointe). Both modes of turnout are thus allowed to go slack. If you really work the turnout there, you pass through the arc completely, and yes, your leg goes to the direct side. I might not be able to get my leg directly to the side en l'air, but I'm working to get there.


Initially, this meant that my leg was lower to the ground. I thought that signalled I had no turnout and couldn't lift my leg in that position. I was wrong. What working towards that seconde has done for me is improve my line, work my turnout muscles, thus increasing strength. Although I've been out with injury, before that I was seeing great improvements in my developes to seconde, and have received a lot of positive feedback of improvements in my alignment, my hips being squared, etc. The other day a teacher showed me how much more open my hips had become, and the range of motion that was in them now - a possibility for turnout that allows my leg to go higher, heel facing front. I'm not yet able to do this on my own, but I'm now capable of it, through slow, hard work. But everything in ballet is a slow boil, right? The added benefit of working these muscles and in this way is that it does amazing things for muscle definition, length, core strength, and balance/stability. Everything's connected.


I've tried to make this about me just to document my own journey, and hopefully give others food for thought. There have been some similar discussions earlier on the boards. I'll see if I can dig up some links.

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Thank you for those links Ami1436! That is very helpful. I like your using the word "arc" to describe the movement. I think our bodies rarely ever travel in a strict "straight line". I don't think there's anything straight on my body at all.

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