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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Performance for my family


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So...maybe this is a bit of a reach...but I want to do a little ... (a very little) ballet peformance for my family when I visit them in Europe this August. And I want to do it en pointe..or at least partly en pointe. They want to see how much I have learned, spending over 10 hours a week in class!?I adore the music to the Dying Swan and am getting ok at bourres so I was thinking of a little part of that...see...

I know that even a little part of this is an ambitious endeavor to say the least....but I would love any advice, thoughts and suggestions to pull it off. My family will simply be impressed by ANY pointe work atall!!!!

I won't be able to sustain this for half as long as the great Makarova :pinch: ...but kind of need a Dummy's version of a little portion of this beautiful piece. So I am wondering, how can I choreograph this with a little less pointe work? What else can I throw in there? Where can I get a section of this music? Where might I find a cheap but effective tutu skirt and feather head piece? Do you think I can put it together alone as I don't have a lot of money to get help...?

Please let me know if I am just MAD!?


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I don't think that would be the best choice, BlleFille. You really can't cut that music, and it is a very famous and well known piece. Doing a classical variation on pointe, even that one which has very few steps but a great deal of emotion, a lot bourrées, and the need for totally incredible port de bras, is not a good idea for someone who is not at a professional or almost professional level.


First of all, where will you be performing this for your family? Will you be in a studio? Have learned and worked on any classical variations? If not, I think the best idea might be for them to watch a class.

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I will be visiting them in Europe while I vacation so they won't be able to see me in class. I will just be in the living room. It certainly won't be a very professional show or anything...just a little fun. It doesn't even need to be very like the original..just inspired by it. And the acting is not a huge problem for me :pinch: Anyhow...it was just an idea for my Mom and sisters to see me do a little something....I can even stop the music early....I am not committed to doing the full "death"!

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I see. Okay. I hope the living room has a good space and floor surface for you to dance on pointe.

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Another idea. I think that it would be nice for you to do a short variation (that you make up and that you can do well) for your family on flat shoes in the living room. Something simple and nice. But, the other part of this is why don't you ask at your school if you can videotape a class just to take it with you to Europe and show your family? This way they will be able to see you dance on pointe in a realistic situation and will also be able to see you live. I would do the variation and then show the video. They wouldn't even have to watch the whole thing--but just maybe a bit of barre and center work with you on pointe. This would eliminate the need to get any special costume or music. You could pick any music and do your own choreography. You could just wear a regular leotard, tights and skirt, and maybe put a nice barrette or ribbons or flowers in your hair. There are some inexpensive tutus (not the pancake ones) that you can get online, but I don't think it's worth the expense. That money could be spent on a class!


If you cannot videotape a class, you could have someone take photos of you in various poses. Then you could show them the photos, or arrange a slide show with music (you could use Dying Swan or some other famous ballet music or other), after you do your variation.

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Yeah, I'm not really into taking variations (famous or not) and mixing self-choreographed pieces into it. If you really want to choreograph something, why don't you just pick a short piece of instrumental music and have a go at it? Frankly, I'd say video taping class is one of the better ideas too. In a family situation, sitting together and watching a video or flipping through photos is intimate, normal, and not as awkward as trying to set up a living room performance. Having a slide show of photos (even some really nice studio pictures) set to the music of Dying Swan is a fabulous idea.


You should try to preserve the illusion of performance and leave it to a stage or other venue that's not a living room - it makes what you do more mysterious! Think of it like this, when you go visit a beach, you bring back photos for your family - you don't bring back a ton of sand and dump it in their living room and say, "I brought you the beach!" haha!


I'm a purist - I understand that variations have been reworked by dozens of choreographers, but they're official and professional choreographers and company directors. I may prefer Petipa to MacMillan, but by no means am I going to take it upon myself to rework what they've done. The closest I ever get to that is mauling a variation with my technical incapability; and in my humble opinion, that's bad enough as it is! haha!

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I say if you want to do it, go ahead! It does sound quite unusual, but every family has its own dynamic, and who are we to tell you what yours will enjoy? I know I personally am happiest when I have something to plan/anticipate, and it sounds like that's exactly how you feel about this little performance! The choice of whether it's worth it is up to you, and the best advice we can offer on this board is just to use good judgment - don't do anything you're not ready for, don't dance on an unsafe surface, and check with your teacher to make sure you're not picking up any bad habits by "rehearsing" on your own.


If you decide you do want a costume, discountdance.com has cheap tutus. As for a headpiece, why not just get some feathers from a craft store and hot glue them to a headband?

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Thanks all...and thanks, Chihiro :flowers: Growing up in my fmaily, we were always putting on plays and other perfromances in the dining room. It worked well as the floor is wood and there is a sliding door between the dining and living room where my spectators would sit! :) LOL! We were little actors, dancers, artists and writers; always doing something dramatic! Whether I go ahead with my little idea or not, I know my Mom would just get the biggest kick out of seeing me do something to beautiful music. She always enjoyed my stage performances when I was a kid and I guess I was planning a little re enactment of that!

I was Snow White in a ballet at 12 in my city in Europe and it was huge for her!

I think I will talk to one of my teachers about it as he is a friend too and honest to a fault! But thanks all for the ideas and suggestions.

Obviously I am going to be sensible and not risk my health! :)

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I love the music of the Dying Swan! One of the best students at our school performed it at our recital last week. Just the music alone practically makes me want to cry! :crying: I say go for it, as long as you are careful with the flooring! I actually think that - barring professional-level expecations - it's a friendly little variation to try out.


For the music, what I would simply do is, find it on youtube and play it with the volume cranked up. :blushing: If you have a computer with speakers, even better!


I have a very lovely white practice tutu by Sansha that you can get on allaboutdance.com I believe, or discountdance.com. It was around $50.00. That's the most inexpensive one I have found, and it looks great! You could put it over a white leotard for a white swan look and it would be fab. Personally I like how it looks on a black leo. :)


As for the feather headpiece, Grishko appears to sell it on their website. It's gorgeous, however, I wouldn't be surprised to discover it to be very expensive (they don't list the price). :ermm: Personally I think someone with decent artistic skill could probably make one, probably a quite beautiful one, by shaping and twisting wire into the proper shape and wrapping it in mesh tulle, and then adding feathers on the sides and beading in the center. Then ties would be added on each end so it can be tied at the nape of the neck.

In the alternative, you could find some sort of hair accessory with white feathers on it perhaps? Like some combs or barettes?


Your family performances sound so cute! :D You must let us know how it goes :yes:

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I say go for it too. There's nothing like a performance right there in front of people, which has an impact and immediacy that videos dont have (and people spend their whole lives watching things on screens anyway..). Even if its not perfect, it will be fun.


You can edit music in various ways. We had a thread on that earlier - I wont say my way because there are simpler ways of doing it - maybe you can find the thread again if you look for it.



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Awww..thanks jesuisAimee and Jim! it's true that for my particular family, it would give them joy to see this :yes: And I would get a lot out of performing it for them...EVEN if it is FAR from perfect ;) We can watch one of the originals on YOUTUBE afterwards!

I will try to find how to edit the music...I already downloaded it from Amazon.


My boyfriend will even be performing the music from the Third man on his guitar too! This is the kind of family I have!!!

Thanks for all the tips!

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BlleFille let me know if you didn't get my response to your PM - my computer freaked out and my sent folder has nothing in it! :wink:

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Dying Swan-in my opinion is not a really good idea. It is a piece for a very very seasoned prima ballerina. Not for recreationals and not for young pros- even though the steps themselves are really easy but it is hard to keep the performance from sliding into something... ehh... embarrassing or corny.

Why not take a fairy variation from Sleeping beauty? They are not too hard, quite short, fun to dance and easy to adjust to an amateurs technique. Or Cupid from DQ?


Giving a performance for your family is a really nice idea though and is always appreciated!

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