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A Question About Attitude


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We all worked on our attitudes last night - the dance position, not the other kind, and a question came up as to if the toes of the foot are supposed to be higher than the knee? Seems no one could answer this, so I figured I'd ask all of you - anyone, anyone?

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Think of it this way: According to Gail Grant-

"Attitude: A particular pose in dancing derived by Carlo Blasis from the statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna.

It is a position on one leg with the other lifted in back, the knee bent at an angle of 90 degrees and well turned out so that the knee is higher than the foot. "

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I was taught that it depends on the height. In general if above 90 degrees the foot can be slightly higher than the knee. Below 90 and the knee should be higher. Of course, proper rotation is essential no matter the height.

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Thank you both for the response. So the general concensus seems to be knee higher than foot, would this be true for all schools? I.e., Vaganova, Cecchetti, RAD, etc.?

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According to the pictures in Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet, yes, unless the leg is above 90 degrees.


Now, Victoria, vrsfanatic, and Mel may come on with further details, but that should get you started, at least! :P

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I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with Gail Grant on this one. It is very 'old school'. Today, at 90º the foot is basically even with the knee, although if it is a very good foot the toes may go slightly higher. Above 90º the foot is definitely higher than the knee. Check out Gretchen Warren's book, page 48. :P [However, the attitude position is also more open than it used to be. It has not been square to the body for as long as I can remember as an adult, although I do recall learning that tighter, square position as a child. And we will NOT discuss how long ago that was! :)]

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I was taught and continue to teach that, in croisé and for pirouettes it should be a tight right angled position, but in éffacé it should be elongated with the foot higher than the knee.

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I read a beautiful review once, I think on our sister board, about the different types of attitude derriere in reference to Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) - and how the style of these attitudes should change throughout the ballet. It was thought-provoking, or so I thought, and may give some insight to the different aesthetic nature of different 'types' of attitudes. If I can find it, I'll put a link here. This was several years ago....

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If, at 90º or above, the foot is just a little higher than the knee, it gives the line a slight upward curve, but this only looks right if the working leg is elongated a little--that is, with the knee bent so as to form slightly more than a right angle. If the knee is bent perfectly square, the most attractive line is usually with the knee and foot at the same level. If the foot is below the knee (again, with the leg raised to 90º or above), one runs the risk of the unfortunate 'dog with one leg lifted' position. With the leg raised lower than 90º, the knee would, out of necessity, always be higher than the foot.

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I'm RAD-based teacher and student, I agree with Ms.Leigh and Hans.

I think the old statue was just an inspiration for attitude, but we do not necessarily have to copy the exact position.

Attitude derriere is easily achieved by first placing the working leg at the cou-de-pied derriere position (make sure the turn out of the hip is well achieved by rotating the leg outward, making the knee pointing sideways), then just lift the leg higher by maintaining the line. Whether is a low attitude of 45-degrees or a penchee in 135-degree-attitude, it doesn't matter. Just maintain the cou-de-pied derriere position and bring the leg up as high as you like (or as you can.. :) )

Keep the turnout of the supporting hip, to make sure you don't skew to an ugly angle, and use your back muscle strongly to keep the nice curving line, from the top your head to the tip your working foot.


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Definitely don't copy the statue- I put that link in there for an historical reference only. :)

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I'm RAD-based teacher and student, I agree with Ms.Leigh and Hans.



I remember being taught Attitude exactly this way, but only from one teacher I had for a couple of semesters in College....some deca... eh hem...years ago. She was also somewhat of a RAD teacher by experience, but not teaching the syllabus at the time.


I actually haven't had anybody "teach" an attitude since college. In the classes I have found, one is expected to know it already. Good reminder.

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