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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Position of the foot in passé


Claude_Catastrophique

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I am pretty sure that there was a similar post somewhere but I just could not find it. I have to admit that I am really bad in finding old posts. Feel free to close if it has already been asked before!

 

I have learnt to put my foot right under the kneecap in passé. How much it should be crossed depended on the teachers I had. Some wanted it more crossed, some less. Now I am taking lessons with professional dancers who are still active and I was told many times, that this would be old and the "new" position of the foot in passé would be as high as possible (for the individual) and just a teeny tiny bit crossed, the foot hardly touching the leg. As a result, my foot would be way over my knee.

 

When I told them, that I had learnt it differently, they said that would be old and nowadays in 2010 the foot in passé should be higher that the kneecap. After all, they are not happy about it, they just said it would be required everyhwere in companies so better to learn it now.

 

Is that true? They made me feel old, you know...it was not the only thing they told me that would be "old". :o

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I've been told the same thing from the younger teachers. Older teachers still teach the under the knee position and some still teach the side of the knee position but the young ones teach for it to be above the knee. Not easy for someone like me, I must add but they don't force me to do it due to my advanced age. The young ones I take class with, however, are required to put it as high as possible without distorting the hip placement.

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I notice this, too, in at least some of the professional, full-time schools here in Germany.

 

I do not like it, as it is not as pleasing an angle, but - fashions will change.

 

-d-

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Exactly, Serendipity! Older teachers - under the knee, younger teachers - as high as possible without any audjustment in the hip.

 

Diane, I am glad that you said that, so it does not seem to be a nationality thing.

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Interesting indeed. I must be "old". :blushing: Experienced teachers of children and adolescent students know there are certain stages of development that are crucial to the development of a student into a professional dancer. Please remember, the discussion of how to do this or that includes years of training, not just the final years of students embarking on a career in dance. Perhaps this new idea of the movement "passe" (although I think the movement being discussed may be retire) may seep into the recognized training systems of serious students of ballet eventually over many years of having this movment required, in the way being discussed, by professional dancers. Only time will tell. Actually, it is not such a difficult adjust for a trained dancer. :wink: The difficulty is teaching an untrained student how to do it and figuring out the process to teach it! :o The trained professional basically must be able to do anything and everything that is being asked. This is not anything new.

 

What is interesting to the trained teacher is the hows and whys of it all! :o

Edited by vrsfanatic
added a word
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What is interesting to the trained teacher is the hows and whys of it all!

 

And I really have to question the WHY of placing the foot above the knee in retiré. In my opinion, it breaks the line, and, most people do distort hips and sickle the foot trying to get it that high. :yucky:

 

Of course I am "old", however, I do like the position a bit more side of the knee than totally under the kneecap, which can make it a little higher and more rotated if the student has the capability to do it.

 

Do the teachers who want it above the knee also teach that when doing retiré and passé at the barre? The position taught at the barre is generally the one that is expected to be used in the center. It would not make sense to me to teach it under the knee, and then when they do pirouettes to want it higher. :shrug:

 

[Claude, you can probably find other discussions about this by searching for retiré instead of passé.]

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Hehe, I had the same reaction when I heard that this would be "old"...I was like "OMG, I am old!" (and I am in my twenties). It is taught in passé, retiré, pirouttes, at the barre, in the centre, no matter where, even in modern (Cunningham and Graham) I was told to put my foot higher.

 

Although I was taught to put the foot under my knee, I am okay with that position, I just had to overcome habit to put it there. We have some girls who are built in a way that they cannot bring it up so far, without distorting the hip or sickling so they are fine with the foot slightly sideways on knee-height but my body seems to be capable of doing this position (one at least :shrug: )

 

I am also intrested in the whys and hows and when I asked I got the answer, that some famouse dancers must have done it sometimes in the past and now directors and teachers aks everyone else to put it up there (my teacher did not seem to be happy about that but they are preparing students for auditions for companies so they tend to teach what is required outside there). Well, I hoped that I would get here an answer to why and how and so on but obivously it seems to be some kind of new trend and we will see in the future where it goes, isn't it? :yucky:

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If it is a new trend, it is not a good one. Sorry, but that position is not even attractive. :angry:

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Let me start by saying that I do agree that the height of the retire cannot be allowed to distort the hip line or the overall look and definitely no sickling allowed; BUT I think that the actual height varies slightly from dancer to dancer and although my teacher may use the words get the retire as high as possible if you actually watch the dancers to whom she is talking the level of their retire is so low it is ridiculous; and we dont have any dancers getting the foot above the knee.

The position of more to the side of the knee seems to help a lot of dancers to hold their turn out which is why my teacher is very pro that, for some students she will even tell them to get the foot behind the knee, but again this is not for all the students only the ones whom if you watch are turning it in... thinking of getting it behind is the thought process that they need to hold it out and just helps that student to get the foot into the correct position.

And yes the same students get EXACTLY the same corrections whether at the barre or in the centre.

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My instructor at one of my dance studios talked about this in class just this past weekend! She also said that the "above the knee" position in retire/passe is a new trend that is seen at some companies but that that is something one should be aware of and adjust for IF one is thinking about auditioning for such a company. She said that "classical positions" are the foundation and that once you have solid classical technique, then tweaks and trends and choreographer/AD quirks can be accommodated :pinch: Glad to hear more discussion here...and I agree that the uber-high position spoils the line and I do not care for it.

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At half term I had this discussion with my dd who is training at a British vocational school. When she goes to Easter and Summer courses she meets students from all the major establishments so she can often bring me up to date on current trends (there are parent or teacher viewing session too). Basically I asked her if the use of the higher position was widespread. She replied that it is expected everywhere now! I don't like it, but am resigned that I will have to teach it to the more advanced pre pro students, so that even if they don't use it all the time they can if asked.

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I have not ever seen anyone ask for, nor suggest a position retire other than the one I have grown up with (to the front, side and back of the knee), used as a dancer, studied as a teacher, currently teach and generally see on stage. I watch classes in many professional American schools, speak with (on a continuing basis) other professional teachers teaching nationally and internationally, last winter returned to St. Petersburg for a visit to observe classes in Vaganova Academy and see performances of the Mariinsky Ballet and at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, attend professional performances of major companies that tour to South Florida as well as go to NYC almost every summer to catch performances of NYCB and ABT. I also judge annually a international competitons with many directors of European and American schools of note. Most of the directors teach master classes and we always talk shop. Can anyone name specifically schools that are requiring this "retire' " as a part of their syllabus? I will begin to ask questions on this subject, without a doubt.

 

On the other hand, many students who attend our SI have no idea that retire' is a specific physical shape with rules and physical requirements attached to it. Has anyone ever observed a qualified teacher, teaching this "new" retire'? If I left the continuing development of ballet technique up to some of my students, ballet would be in big trouble. For the most part, they only think they know what I mean. Only during and after their performing careers are dancers able to admit they know very little about the hows and whys of this and that. It takes years and years of experience as a teacher and dancer to fiddle with the hows and whys of ballet technique. I am interested in the topic, but thus far I have not heard one specific regarding who the heck is teaching this "retire' ". No names necessary, but a school could be mentioned. :pinch:

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I am in total agreement with vrs. I have seen a few students do this here and there, but NEVER have I seen it actually taught. One of my students did come back from an SI this year and her leg was up there above the knee where it had not been before. She did not sickle, however the hips were all over the place. Needless to say, she is no longer doing that...at least not in my classes!

 

Once they are in a professional company, if that is what the director or choreographer wants, then fine. But they are not going to be taught that way here. :pinch:

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I find that high retire position totally unstable and out of line. Plus it is unattractive and puts too much pressure on the kneecap if not held correctly. (it pushed the kneecap down)

But- I think the reason is- like with many things in ballet today- they are trying to force more extremes as the over the knee position requires more turnout and more hip flexibility than the lower one. Many students do not have the extreme rotation and hip flexibility to keep this position without sickling the feet and making the pelvis tilt.

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