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Ballet Talk for Dancers

"contrasting examples of expression and technique"


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I am currently working on the arts supplement section of the common application, and it says to include a ten minute DVD "that demonstrates contrasting examples of expression and technique."


With ten minutes, I can include several variations. I am interpreting "contrasting examples" to mean I should include variations that showcase different styles and elements of technique, i.e. Paquita and Odette.


My strengths are: jumps and most kinds of turns...essentially anything you would find in a mens variation. I can out-battu nearly every guy at my studio.


Weaknesses: Extensions. Arabesque is alright, but I avoid the other two like the plague. I'm reasonably flexible, but I don't have the perfect 180 turnout and my extensions are pretty limited.


I can't know if the DVD will be reviewed by the admissions officers, or if it will be given it to the school's dance faculty for review so the variations need to appeal both to a trained and untrained eye. I have a few quick and fiery variations in mind, but I am really at loss for a contrasting variation that won't highlight my lack of extension. Any suggestions for either type would be very much appreciated. :thumbsup:

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Have you considered the first variation from the pas de trois in Act I Swan Lake? You appear to be familiar with Paquita, so the variation from that pas de trois with the echappé and the front attitude would be good as well.


But I would consider what to do between variations, the bridges would be as important as the repertory material. That's where the "technique" part of the requirement comes in. Ten minutes of variations from the same dancer can be a grinding watch.

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Thanks for the suggestions, Mr. Johnson. I appreciate your help. Are you referring to the Paquita variation that begins with relevé--entrechat--front attitude? If so, I have never performed either those pieces but I have learned them both in variations class. I like them a lot, especially the Paquita.


By "technique" do you mean class combinations? If so, I'm thinking that I should film two or three variations and some center/across the floor work.


For a quick variation, I am trying decide between the La Fille Mal Gardee variation that begins with the quick pas de bourrées or the Spring Fairy variation from Cinderella (not the Balanchine choreography).


To contrast that, either the variation you suggested from Paquita, or another Paquita variation (the one that begins "pushing" the air, if that makes any sense).


Additionally, I was considering including either the Raymonda variation that begins front attitude--back attitude--entrechat six, the "jumping girl" variation from paquita, or the first variation from the Giselle peasant pas. But maybe this would be too much...


As far as combinations go, I was thinking about filming:

an adagio in center

a petite allégro

a waltz combination with turns

a manège of piqué and other turns (I would probably just steal this one from the end of the sugar plum variation)


a grand allégro


Does this sound like a strong 10 minutes?

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Yes, that's the variation I'm thinking of. I've learned it myself from several people, and every one of them has a slightly different take, the only thing remaining constant being the front attitude and an entrechat-six. In what order, and with what else is what changes.


If I were you, I'd program three variations, two allegro and one legato, just to demonstrate range of expression. I don't know what Spring variation you mean, because Balanchine didn't do a Cinderella. Ashton did, so is that the one you mean?


The rest of the video could be taken up with classroom combinations, preferably to both sides. Now, does the requirement say "ten minutes" or does it say "UP TO ten minutes"? In the former case, it means that they want to get an idea of how you organize things, in the latter, they're looking to see how well you can edit and distill your own material. Both tasks are challenging.

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Sorry, for some reason I thought Balanchine had done a famous Cinderella, and I thought I should clarify that this was not the version I know. I performed Spring Fairy in a Cinderella choreographed by a lesser known choreographer last year. It's basically a lot of small jumps and some quick turns.


The instructions are the same for any artist submitting their work be it music, theater, dance, visual art, or film:


"Enclose a 10-minute CD or DVD with this form that demonstrates contrasting examples of expression and technique. Please do not submit videotapes. List the contents of the CD or DVD here:"

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  • 2 months later...

For one of my variations I would like to use the Spanish variation from the Nutcracker. I have performed it for several years with the same partner and we are both very comfortable with the dance and each other.


But is it alright to submit a piece that is not a solo? In this variation, there is a lead couple (myself and a man) and six sides in the back (much younger girls who don't really do much). The only footage I have of this variation is from dress rehearsal with all of the sides, and re-filming without the sides is not an option because my partner is not available. Although it is not a solo, I am the lead female and it is abundantly clear which dancer I am. Does anybody know if this would be alright to submit? I'm not sure the protocol...

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I think it might be best not to include that. Maybe without the side girls it would be okay, but solos and pas de deux are best without distractions.

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