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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Classical Ballet Technique + Technical Manual Questions


jamesters

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Someone from this forum recommended I get Classical Ballet Technique, Technical Manual And Dictionary Of Classical Ballet, and The Video Dictionary Of Classical Ballet. I've reviewed all those materials and have a few questions now.

 

- On page 9 of Classical Ballet Technique it says that the glutes should not be overused for turn out and to "Never pinch the buttocks together so that the pelvis is thrust forward". My ballet coach always tells me to keep my glute contracted pretty much all the time, not just a little bit either, but maximally contracted. What's up with that?

 

- On page 11 of Classical Ballet Technique it says that "it is generally impossible, beyond the age of eleven, to increase the degree of outward rotation of the hip joint". I'm thinking pregnancy is a potential exception, right? I've read that pregnant women sometimes get larger hips, not just fatter, but that their hip structure actually increases in size. Do you think pregnancy could potentially make external rotation of the hips easier?

 

- On page 53 of Classical Ballet Technique, it says that in regards to cambre forward, the back initiates upward recovery, not the arm. However, my ballet coach is very strict in us lifting our arm up to our ear before we even start to lift up. What's up with that?

 

- How is cou-de-pied pointed, different from coupe? In gymnastics, coupe always meant foot pointed at ankle, but the Technical Manual And Dictionary Of Classical Ballet describes it as an "intermediary step". Could the difference simply be in how transitory it is?

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It sounds as though your teacher has some old-school ideas about training.

 

1) Take that phrase from Warren and consider it as an entire sentence, not just phrase-by-phrase. "Never pinch the buttocks together so that the pelvis is thrust forward" doesn't mean "Never engage the buttocks muscles (the glutes)."

 

2) Most students don't achieve all the rotation of which they are capable. Eleven marks the average for normal bone formation at the ends of the long bones, like the femur. Before that age, you can "convince" the cartilage to bend slightly, increasing the ability of the femur to rotate in the hipjoint. After that time, when the bones are all set, you have to work on tendons and ligaments to increase rotation. The bones can't be convinced anymore. Most students have a lot more rotation than they think they do. And pregnancy doesn't change the amount of rotation, but it does temporarily open the entire pelvic structure. Note the "temporarily". It goes back into place after a little while.

 

3) The treatment of the arms and back in cambré differs among the several methods of ballet. It even varies within certain ones from lower to higher grades. Best to be able to do all of 'em.

 

And cou de pied is a wrapped position with the ball of the heel at the front of the ankle and the toes in back of the supporting heel. "Coupé" is a movement, pas coupé, in which a working foot "cuts away" a supporting foot, raising the former supporting foot to petit retiré. Petit retiré has all sorts of names, as, "coupé position" "cou de pied conditional" "attitude à terre" and so on ad infinitum.

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It sounds as though your teacher has some old-school ideas about training.

 

1) Take that phrase from Warren and consider it as an entire sentence, not just phrase-by-phrase. "Never pinch the buttocks together so that the pelvis is thrust forward" doesn't mean "Never engage the buttocks muscles (the glutes)."

Thanks, so should the glutes be contracted when just standing (as in 1st or 2nd), as long as it's not making the pelvis thrust forward?

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