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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balanchine Method.


xSugarplum

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Hi everyone.

 

I'm auditioning for a school/student company which strictly uses Balanchine method. I'm trained in Vaganova and Cechetti, with having had brief SI exposure to RAD. Balanchine is one of two (the other being Bournonville) tecniques I've just never taken a single class in (that I know of), and have never been exposed to. I've watched some Balanchine ballets in the past (most obvious being Nutcracker, as well as Jewels), and I've tried to research online. I read a bit about the open hip in arabesque (coincidentally this is something I struggle to "fix" in my current classes so how open is open for Balanchine?? :(), the fast steps, and the "unconventional" arms. I've searched for class examples on Youtube with no luck.

 

Can anyone provide a more detailed account of exactly what I should be prepared to adjust re: arms and how fast are the fast movements (typical combination I could try out, perhaps? Is it mostly jumps? Beats? I'm not so good with multiple beats because my classes don't do so many of them). I also read the pirouettes are always from 4th but with a straight backleg? I've actually always done pirouettes with a straight back leg and only recently started bending it after many corrections (bending it doesn't feel right to me as I tend to throw my weight back in doing so), so if the leg is straight in Balanchine I might go back to doing pirouettes that way.

 

I'll be asking my teachers about this as well, but they're mostly Russian-trained so I don't know how much they'll be able to offer me. If anyone with Balanchine training, or at least familiarity with the Balanchine method could provide me with more insight (and perhaps some videos of classes if they know of any?) I would be eternally grateful. I don't want to feel like a fish out of water at my audition and I'd like to know what I should be prepared for. Thank you!

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Balanchine is a style, not a method. There is no syllabus created by Mr. B for training dancers. People who were in NYCB teach his style in their classes. This includes very fast tendus, not using the floor like most other schools, open arabesques, meaning not behind you, heels not down in jumps and pointe work, and very strange port de bras.

 

Mr. B was a great choreographer, but the dancers he taught were his professionals, and he taught them to move the way he wanted them to move in his choreography.

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Just to add a little bit to what Ms. Leigh wrote, in my experience at SAB, "fast" meant everything was fast, even adagio. Developpé in one count, hold briefly, and lower, was not unusual at all. There is also a lot of very quick petit allegro without the heels down, as Ms. Leigh said, and lots of emphasis on overcrossing the legs in 5th and when the leg is extended in front.

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Hi, I'm not sure why this was moved here, I still belong to the 17-22 category (for another year). I've been posting on both that and this board because I think I've seen other people do so, let me know if that isn't okay, though. I don't care where the thread is so long as I get answers, which I have. :clapping:

 

Ms. Leigh, when you say not using the floor- do you mean doing things like rond de jambe actually *off* the floor, or do you mean that due to the quickness of movement one cannot really push against the floor as much and therefore isn't "using" the floor to the best of their ability? I've definitely been told to use the floor and have accents on everything so this might be a bit of a departure for me...I guess even if it doesn't end up so well I will use it as a learning experience.

 

Heels not down on jumps, huh. I was drilled by my teachers to put my heels down in between each jump to prevent injury...would you say it's bad for the achilles (or any other part) to not put the heels down, or is that just a misconception?

 

I wish there was a video out of a SAB class, the same way there are videos out of certain other schools. :(

 

Hans, thank you for the insight! Develope in one count....that speaks to the lazy dancer inside of me. :clapping:

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I meant the pushing against the floor in tendu, going through the metatarsal as you tendu and as you return to 5th. And as far as the putting the heels down is concerned I firmly believe that it is the correct and safest way to jump. One is not taught to do a demi plié with the heels off the floor, and the demi plié is the basis for all jumps and relevés. Even piqué steps are motivated from a demi plié on the push off leg.

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I think the trouble with 'Balanchine style' is exactly what Hans and Ms. Leigh describe -- it's a *style*, not a method, and as such was best taught to professional dancers who had been trained well. Most of my training has been with Balanchine dancers (whether with Mr. B or after, and not only with NYCB), but they also had different training prior to their SAB/NYCB/etc days.... In addition, they are GOOD TEACHERS (sorry for the caps... but it has to be emphasized!). That is, they are able to inflect characteristics of the style into their teaching, without sacrificing good technique and pedagogy, and training good dancers who can go onto various types of SIs and beyond.

 

Point? The class depends on the teacher, and Balanchine style/method can mean different things to different people.... (and thus applied in different ways).

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Balanchine style/method can mean different things to different people

 

This is a good point. For example, take the book by Suki Schorer. Many of Balanchine's dancers did not agree with what she wrote.

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Thanks for all the insight. I guess it's good to know that the "style" can be applied to dancers trained in technique from other places. The school I'm going for has prior NYCB dancers as ADs so I trust them as far as teaching capacities, I just wanted to see how much of a departure it might be for me. I have a whole bunch of auditions lined up but this is the only one I am really worried about due to not being familiar. Someone PMed me a link to some videos which was nice as well. :wacko:

 

I appreciate all the feedback I've received so far. I'm sorry for the poor choice of word in my title saying "method", I wasn't meaning to say I thought it was a "method", it was just the word I chose. I should have said "style" instead. :o

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"style" can be applied to dancers trained in technique from other places

 

You hit the nail on the head. I had a dancer taken into SAB year round. She had no training in the Balanchine style, but she had good, clean technique that the style could be applied to.

 

I would not try to mimic something you are unfamiliar with. Just be yourself.

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You didn't go badly wrong in calling Balanchine™ a method. Most people would agree that there is one out there, but it hasn't been set in stone yet. To do that, it would take a pedagogical genius of the same quality Mr. B. had as a choreographer, and they don't come along very often!

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From what I've seen of Balanchine's style, its speed and some of the preps and finishes are a lot riskier than those of Cechetti and Vaganova. You have to be very warmed up and very exact about your technique, otherwise the injury potential is a lot higher. I've confirmed this with a few people (including my teacher) who have actually danced some Balanchine style. Be careful!

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Oh yes, strange arms! I had an SI-teacher who taught Balanchine and her arms were really specially but I enjoyed it a lot.

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Congratulations!!!!! :yes:

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