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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tips for getting a higher passé/retiré?


La_Bailarina

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Where does she want the toe placed, Ballet Bunnie? How high does she want it?

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Where does she want the toe placed, Ballet Bunnie? How high does she want it?

 

Above the kneecap... like one inch above for me... But she did said that it is different for everyone, but she believe that if we really femoral head "into the socket", we can get our passés somewhat higher... And she saids that that's why she told us to flex our feet, lift our thigh up, re-point our feet while holding it (and do not sickle!!!!)... And at whatever hight our feet touches our thigh, that's the hight of passé we should be aiming for...

Our teacher said that when she first started ballet, passé was a little bit below the knee, but then, it gets higher and higher... She said that she's too old to do passé above the knee anymore, but still wants us to do it because we are "still young"...

(But one interesting fact is that the Japanese girl's passé was about two inches above... I don't know how she can does it, but she said that she was trained this way when she was in Japan...)

 

I've also noticed that she has some very distinct ways of doing some movements, especially frappé and jeté:

frappé: A hybrid of flexed and pointed method... She wants us to start with pointed feet, but as soon as the foot touches floor, flex the metatarsal and brush with toes only... She told us that this will give us more control of the small muscles in our feet, but it is just...WEIRD.....Has any one heard of this method?

Jeté: instead of brush and cut under, brush --> up --> cut under... by up, she really means "as high as you can jump" "up"... And she says that it has more energy this way... I had never been taught this way either...

And she is asking us to do some men steps that I had never ever been asked to do before even if our class was a girl only class...

Is it because I didn't have a good training before, or her teaching is very different? I still remember that at the begining of the semester, a lot of my classmates also felt that our previous training didn't prepare us for her class....

Edited by Ballet Bunnie
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Bunnie, I wish I could help you, but I happen to be of the school that does not believe that the retiré position should be above the knee. I like it slightly more side and higher than under the knee, but when the foot is actually at thigh level, it is not only almost impossible not to sickle, it just really does not look good. It breaks the line rather than create a good line. That is my opinion, and I do not understand training that asks for it to be above the knee. High to the side, okay, on the thigh, not okay.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh!

I meant high on the side though... Still very difficult for me to do a passé/retiré above my knee... As soon as I release my hand, it fells downs to orignianl height again~~ lol... I guess I will have to work on that for quite some time...

But I am just wondering, Ms. Leigh, is her way of doing frappé common?

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Not sure about the frappé, Bunnie. I have done them with the strike on the floor, but not from a pointed position. And, I have done them with a pointed foot, but no strike on the floor. Have not done them anywhere that a pointed foot into a strike was used. :) Maybe someone else can shed some light on this.

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I've also had a teacher ask for frappés to be done this way, starting and ending with a wrapped position at the ankle (pointed, NOT flexed) and striking with a pointed foot (only flexing the toes as you brush the floor). Coincidentally, this was also a more Balanchine/NYCB-influenced teacher, so that could explain it. That exercise always got a lot of confused looks in my classes, so my teacher just said this was a different way of doing frappés, not necessarily right or wrong.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh and Waltzing! My teacher is Balanchine influenced / neoclassical indeed! She wasn't very strick on it first, but now as a few weeks come by, she is making us do these pointed frappes with pointed feet~~~ It feels very very weird.... But her reasoning for making us doing this sounds interesting... I will go with it for a couple of weeks and see what I feel then!

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  • 1 month later...

I once had a Balanchine-trained teacher who always gave frappés in manner you described, Ballet Bunnie. I also had a Russian teacher ask us to do frappés like this, but not on a regular basis. It was more of an exercise for coordination.

 

Lately, I have noticed that several teachers who teach to the new ABT curriculum give frappés as such: the working leg starts in a demi-pointe position touching the floor. It brushes out through the metatarsal to a completely pointed foot, and then returns to the demi-pointe position. If that description doesn't make sense, let me rephrase: imagine you are doing a traditional frappé with a flexed foot, but you do not begin with the working foot flexed. Instead, it is in demi-pointe position touching the floor, and only the metatarsal and toes change position. The ankle remains pointed throughout.

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That would seem to indicate that the teachers who teach so incorporate the Bournonville method of frappé, which is essentially the same as the old French method as taught by Vestris. The old Cecchetti method did them that way, too. It's a good way to start off frappés, but I would then revert to my old haunting grounds of Balanchine, with the foot in sur le cou de pied, but I would leave out the VERY strong "strike" accent that the Balanchine reforms of the 1960s favored. Easier - brush the floor, not spank it. The compleat dancer should know how to do all of those, and the Legat/Vaganova flexed foot/no strike, as well as when it is appropriate to do what.

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A variation of the old Bournonville/French/Cecchetti way is to relax the foot at the ankle. It is not totally flexed, and it is not pointed. This way, you get the brush but with the ankle working as well as the toes. I like it because it still allows a strike, but the strike is not so hard, as mentioned above in Mr. Johnson's post. This kind of frappé works the knee and the ankle joint as well as the metatarsals and the toes. :) However, it is also very important to learn all methods by the time one is an advanced dancer, as you never know what will be asked of you by a company director or ballet master.

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