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Question about styles....


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I'm having a devil of a time with changing old style habits to match my current teacher's. Over the years, I've studied cecchetti (the first style I learned, I think), bournonville (sp?), some vaganova and, more recently, RAD. When I took RAD (in England at the time), it totally messed with my head - literally - and now I can't tell what's correct and what isn't???


Or is it ALL correct and I only have to find out which teacher wants what?


It took me all of last year to get rid of the RAD head and do what my teacher wanted. Now I'm back to the RAD head with another teacher, so feel like I'm just rolling it around trying to find the right position....


This year, I'll be taking with 3 different teachers, each with her own style. Am I setting myself up for major confusion???


Anyone have experience of dealing with constantly switching styles/teachers and being able to cope? Any words of advice, apart from having to think a lot harder in class?

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Vaganova, Cecchetti, RAD, and Bournonville are all valid methods of training dancers!


Regardless of the name attached to the step, all steps are in all methods. Boiling it down further, all steps can be broken down into the 5 foot (leg) positions, regardless of the method. I call them leg positions as well, because even though the foot may not be touching the floor, the legs should still be moving into or out of a position. It's what makes footwork clean.


Take a simple grand battement devant:

Start in 5th, brush the leg straight up en l'air and return to 5th. The leg follows the pathway established by the 5th position. It doesn't veer or change course.


Take: tombé, pas de boureé, glissade, assemblé starting with right foot in front, 5th position:

Tombé pas de boureé- 5th-4th-5th-2nd-5th.

Glissade- 5th-2nd-5th. (no change)

Assemblé- 5th-2nd-5th. (over)


Try to think of things in these terms and perhaps it will help you. The differences between the methods can be as simple as where the arms are placed when they are in this position: (o) that may be called 5th en haut (Cecchetti) or Third Position (Vaganova). And there may be other subtle differences as well, like the precise angle away from the ears or how the hands are placed, but essentially, what matters is that your shoulders are down and your arms move because of your body. That's a staple regardless of the method.

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I did early training from 11-15 in the RAD system, then came back at 20 to a variety of teachers, then spent time with one teacher who used the Cecchetti syllabus, but not as a straitjacket. My experience as a student mirrors what Clara76 says as a teacher -- it's all technique in the end, and p'raps a degagé is called a glissé (I can never remember which system calls for which name!) but in the end ...


I suppose it might be tricky if you have a teacher who thinks that there's only one way to move the head in rond de jambe or something, then you adapt. But overall, in my experience, teachers of adults accept lots of small stylistic differences, as long as you're trying to dance what they have set in a combination.


I think for me, the biggest problem is all the little gaps in my training -- I get the simplest things a bit mixed up, because I didn't have that drilling that comes with a lot of training from the age of 10 or so. So I'm quite pleased when ther's a teacher who will pay attention to the basics.

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Clara, thanks for that response. My main issues aren't with the feet at all, except where one teacher wants a stretched frappe foot and the other a flexed one, or, as in one teacher I had a way long ago, a stretched frappe foot with a flexed toe. That was rather odd.... LOL!


My trouble is with arms and head!! I'm still having trouble remembering things. I know there are ways, for example to do chaines. My main-trained way was with arms in bras bas (sp?). My current teacher wants them in first position, so halfway across the floor everyday this week was a screech "FIRST position MISS S...." Today I managed something halfway between bras and first! LOL!


Same with tour jete, which I've heard called many different things and now can recognize most of the differences. I was trained to finish with arms in fifth. My teacher wants them in first arabesque. So there goes another screech across the floor. Funny....all these screeches occur in the same combination. (I say screeches with affection, of course - fantastic teacher who does notice and correct everything!)


The constant "retraining" is kinda driving me a bit nuts....

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Hey Serendipity,


I've danced with a variety of different teachers - some of whom have more of a 'style' (in terms of true pedagogical style) than others, and some of whom do the hodge-podge of stufff, but all differently. Yes, it gets confusing at times. For example, I grew up always doing frappes from a tightly wrapped sur le coup de pied. Now? Flexed foot. What an adjustment, and now going back to sur le coup de pied is also just as taxing. But another way of looking at it is considering class as an exercise not just in technique, but in mastering choreography -- at least for me, that somehow eased the adjustment, and it comes in super-helpful when learning choreography, trying out new classes, etc.


Hmmm. I think I'm being slightly inarticulate (or more than slightly! lol!). I can explain more if needed, but I'll need some caffeine first!!!!!!!!! :wacko:



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LOL! Ami.....I guess I will start looking at it like that.


With four teachers next year (I added a beginning lyrical class), it'll be interesting how my head manages to make sense of it all....

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I think Ami's put her finger on it here -- think of all of what you see as differences in "style" as simply different choreography. For example, the frappé foot -- I've done frappés and petit battement with flexed, pointed, and wrapped feet (the the wrapped with a flexed toe for slow petit battement traced on the floor -- I think that's a standard Ceccehtti syllabus exercise). But they're all "correct" - there's often no one right way to do a step (apart from the fundamentals of technique that is!).


And I've had teachers who set different positions of the feet for frappé/battement at the barre within one combination ie flexed on flat, pointed for petit battement, and pointed for frappés on demi pointe. And so on ... It's just choreography. Ditto chainés or other turns -- there might be choreography which requires demi second (we did that in class on Monday), or first, or bra bras. It makes you quite quick at picking up steps etc if you think of it as choreography, rather than a set style which is "correct."


In fact, because of the work I do, I get really interested in the different styles and their histories. That helps too!

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Serendipity, the example of arm position in tour jete (I am thinking that you are referring to jete en tournant?)--I think-is not an issue of styles but of choreography? BTW, when I temporarily left my current RAD studio and spent a semester with a Cechetti teacher, my main problem was the terms! (she used "degage" to mean "glisse" etc.) Anyway, I am glad to be back to the place where I am no longer puzzled by terminology!


Eun Hee

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Oh eunheejun! I get all the terms now. It's taken me ages to work out each one. We had a vocabulary test today in ballet class and while she gave us previously the terms she wanted, I found it hard NOT to use the parallel terms!!


Today, she commented during one exercise that my arms showed the diverse training (a polite way of saying I wasn't doing it the way she wanted it). She further specifically taught exactly what she wanted, seeing my confusion and using redbookish's suggestion, thought of it as "choreography" so was able to execute it without the main confusion. She's using a combo of RAD and Cecchetti in class. Some exercises are RAD, some are Cecchetti, and she's pretty specific on which is which, now.


Now that it's been specifically laid out, heaven help us if we do something else! ;-)

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I agree with ami as well. A dancer needs to be able to do any step from any position, really.


Lately, I just try and make it look natural. It's hard:)....


In class I try to work out my own technical limitations to make them look OK (find my center and finish cleanly), and in choreography...I just hope for good coaching, because this contemporary stuff all feels bizarre:) I rely on the mirror and videotapes.

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Agreed, Lampwick, and that's why I enjoy open classes -- you start to learn how to pick up choreography as the teacher sets each exercise and combination. I'm not very talented at remembering steps easily so it really helps me develop my limited ability in that area! RAD and Cecchetti (and I've trained in both) are just ways of codifying learning -- there's nothing special about them, and nothing "right" or "wrong" about each style ...


And I think it's useful to kow that there are often several terms for one step eg degage and glisse. Because you're going to hear those variations and LOTS more! On a common sense level, I always assumed that French is a bit like English in having several words meaning much the same thing. Although I do find the US use of passe when what is asked for is a retire, really odd (as far as I understand it, it's actually inaccurate, because what is meant is retire passe, but a Teacher mod may be able to correct me on that).

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Redbookish--I'm not a mod so I can't say that your assessment of retire/passe is absolutely correct from their standpoint, but as a teacher I understand it the way that you do and I teach my students this way. Passe is an action, retire a position.


I also attempt to study each of the differing approaches to technique and in my studio we in turn study the step in all of its different forms, especially frappe. I want my dancers to understand the differing semantics of their art form so that as they traverse into the world they will understand that there are many "right" ways to do the same thing. I know there are teachers who will disagree with me. I've encountered the philosophy that you should pick one method of teaching and not pick and choose from the different schools. I think I'd be doing my students an injustice if I didn't take ALL schools of thought into consideration as I am instructing them. I am a teacher, after all. It is my responsibility to educate my students to the best of my ability.


I encountered the wrapped frappe for the first time two years ago and suffered and awkward paradigm shift. (What?!? It's not always flexed or conditional?) Then I picked up a couple of strictly Vaganova students who never engage the floor, but rather strike the leg. It took work, but I've now assimilated both variations into my arsenal as well. :D

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Not all US teachers use Passé and Retiré interchangeably...... :( However unfortunately, many do. :D

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ROFL! Love the little icon, Ms. Clara. One of my teachers never uses retire, one uses retire and passe in their appropriate forms. Not sure about the other as I haven't had her as a teacher as yet, but I'm sure I'll find out.


I didn't understand the difference between retire and passe till I was in the UK doing some work with an RAD-trained teacher. In fact, I never even HEARD the term retire till then, and that's after many experiences in several places in the US.

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