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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A la seconde


Je Suis Aimee

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Je Suis Aimee

Whenever anything a la seconde is involved, be it tendu, ronde de jambe en l'air, etc., my teachers insist that my working leg must be completely a la seconde - meaning, right in line with my shoulders. Like if I were standing on a horizontal line, my leg must be on that line too; not edging in front of it. I have a hard time doing this. I mean, I can, but it takes 100% of my effort. Is this a physical limitation issue perhaps related to turnout, or is it a strength issue? Is there anything that I can do between classes that could help?

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Ginniathezinnia

My old teachers used to tell me that I could do it partially to the front since the hip got in the way or something like that, but my new teacher went nuts my first day there because I did that and he thought it was ridiculous.

I've been working on it and I think that besides flexibility, you just have to re-train yourself.

Make sure you look at your profile in the mirror during barre work and also practice side splits every day. I have the ability to turn out since I'm very flexible but I lack the strength to hold it there. It just takes practice, of course.

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I thought your seconde would be a continuation of where your first position is? If your turn-out isn't 180 in first, what would be the point of forcing it in seconde? Wouldn't that make your alignment wonky?

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Victoria Leigh

It's a difference in methodology, Mazenderan. The Vaganova school insists on the absolute à la seconde, whereas some of us allow a tiny bit of leeway there, using one's best first position as a guide. Especially with adult students, if the rotation is not there, then I don't push that "perfect" seconde. When the leg is a tiny bit more forward, but really well rotated, then it still can look like a very, very good seconde. Forcing it can just cause alignment, balance, and rolling problems. Students trained from very young, with an excellent facility for ballet, can achieve that "perfect" place, but I see very few who can do it with really good rotation of both legs. And even that is achieved slowly, over time, and with students who have several hours a day of training, 6 days a week.

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Je Suis Aimee

Thanks for all the information. Indeed, I will practice looking in profile in the mirror - not only for the a la seconde, but for making sure my back is straight too (my other persistent problem). I agree Ginnia that it is also a matter of retraining. After doing something one way for so long, it feels normal and it takes work to change it. It took me a very long time to develop the muscles and strength to keep my leg rotated a la seconde - my developpes used to be hideous. They are much better now, but I suspect the muscles developed and strengthened in the 'leeway' position, if you know what I mean. Now I must work on strengthening them in my best seconde possible. I know I can do it because I do it when the teacher pushes me to put all my effort into it - it's holding it that's the problem :blushing:

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Just out of curiosity, Miss Leigh, does the Vaganova system make this demand because Russian schools would usually have only accepted the 'ideal' construction for ballet (or at 99.9% perfect)?

 

My knees are eternally grateful that I am in a Cechetti class!

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Victoria Leigh

I think it was originally designed for that training. I believe that we all have to work towards that "perfect" position, whether it be first position, 5th position, or à la seconde. However, I don't believe in doing it at the sacrifice of everything else, which happens when one simply does not have the facility to work at 180º.

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appleblossom

This is something that my teacher has just been going through with our class, and for me she prefers a slightly forward but well turned out leg, than one which is directly a la seconde but turning in. But there are other students who have the ability to get the leg there and she encourages them to work harder for turnout and position.

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It may be that they are "insisting" on this idea in order to get you to work hard at moving your legs farther side with correct turnout. In that case, keep your legs correctly rotated and, as Ms. Leigh said, work toward the ideal position.

 

If, on the other hand, they have you move the leg back (without it being turned out) and tell you that's correct, well...I will be diplomatic and say that is not how I would do it. :)

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Je Suis Aimee

Oh no, it has to be turned out! Trust me, these teachers are extremely perfectionistic and do not remotely accept improper technique. :)

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luceroblanco

I'm not an expert on Vaganova, but it was a system designed to train aspiring professionals. Also most of us know that at the original school they could pick and choose which students they wanted and they picked the children who had the talent and what they considered to be the "right" body for ballet. I will never forget "right talent in the right body." It was not a system developed to train adults who had never danced before and/or children who obviously were not flexible enough and would not have 180 degree turnout. If I remember correctly Je suis Aimee, you are pre-pro and have been dancing since childhood??

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Je Suis Aimee

Aaah, don't I wish! I did take some ballet as a child, then some in college, and have been at it most lately for almost three years now. My current school is pre pro, but I'm not... at 32, I think that ship has sailed :D

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