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Ludmilla

Downstage/upstage leg - question

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Ludmilla

Our studio had a substitute teacher some time ago but there has been a question -- a big question -- and I have been unable to address this to my regular teacher, or other teachers at the studio (a political issue to bring into question anything about the sub's qualifications).

 

The sub had us doing combinations across the floor such that two things seemed "wrong" or lobsided, to me: The waltz turn was done brushing the upstage leg first instead of the downstage leg! It felt very awkward and I was even unable to do it -- I was uncomfortable about how awkward I felt this would look to the audience, too (who would hardly be able to see the lovely action of the brushing and presentation of the leg I had been taught for many years to use: brush the downstage leg moving forward on the diagonal/turn, then brushing to the back, the downstage (other) leg on the second half of the waltz turn.)

 

The second thing -- also very awkward-seeming and first time I had ever seen it - was in a couple of combos starting in pique arabesque, he instructed us to pique on, now, the downstage leg (so your arabesque derriere w/ the upstage leg was all but hidden from view, also.....)

 

Is this simply a new thing that all these years I had not encountered? Or, it could be a different school of teaching that I have never run into specifically either?

 

Anyway, I hope that this sub was not incorrect because he came with such high praise by the studio, I feel a bit shaken to think that either I was so unfamiliar with something that in my lack of experience I had never seen; or, if a teacher of this supposed caliber could have informed us incorrectly, I'd be terribly sad. Or perhaps (again my ignorance maybe) it was just a different choreography of these steps I simply had not experienced before? (I am not a very advanced or intermediate dancer but I have studied with a fair crop of different - and I feel, qualified - teachers and for a number of years as life permits....and I simply had never seen these two 'turned around' methods for these two particular steps.)

 

But I am ready for whatever answer(s), the lovely experts here at BT may offer....... I will accept what you say... (Though I dearly love the waltz turn starting with presenting the downstage leg with a brush forward......)

 

Shrug icon........... :nixweiss: ..... Ms. Leigh? I think I'd most like to hear from you, if possible......

 

Ludmilla

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Victoria Leigh

Ludmilla, I have never seen the waltz turn done leading with the upstage leg, at least not when it is done on a diagonal moving forward from the corner. It would be awkward.

 

Arabesque piqué can be done with either leg, and it's simply a matter of whether it is an arabesque in an effacé position or a croisé position. The back leg would not be hidden in either one, if done correctly.

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Ludmilla

Ms. Leigh - Thanks for answering!! I am relieved about the waltz turn... (that this also seems unusual or awkward to you, also). Yes exactly - moving forward from the corner - you envisioned it as I meant to explain. That leaves me with -- because this sub is going to be back again -- do I just keep quiet and do the move that way (as I certainly did in that class!?) (no matter what I would not question ----- especially out loud or in front of others at all --- what a teacher directs. But I wanted to know in my own mind if it was just my imagination or have I never seen that, either....) -- I want to be quiet and never question the sub or the studio about the move being done this way -- it would only get me in very hot water, where I do not need to be with this studio......

 

As for the Arabesque pique, in order not to use terms croise or efface incorrectly, I want to say that the arabesque pique in question, was done in the back, left corner, as the first step of a combo that moved along the diagonal toward the front, right corner. Downstage leg was the pique leg; arabesque leg, the upstage, albeiit yes it was facing along the diagonal...(so it was angled that way).. I see what you are saying but the terms not coming to mind at the moment (but if this would be croise - because moving from the back left corner, the left leg is in front in 5th and it is the leg to pique onto -- ), I hope that describes what we were doing. If it doesn't I will check my terminology and try to describe it better. - it has been a while since I've been able to sit down and write this, so I may have forgotten some specifics, of the move, but I do clearly remember being so surprised at the pique onto the downstage, left foot that was in front in 5th to prepare, (moving from the back left corner).

 

Since this, on the pique arabesques does not seem to be incorrect, that is your comment mentioned this, I may check on youtube for instance and try to see if I find any instances of this pique arabesque that I am trying to describe just so I see it and see if it now would look awkward to me or not..... I guess pique arabesque is a very versatile move that could be done in several ways or directions of course, though again to go back to my original question, I had done it for years by starting for instance, from the back left corner in B plus w/ R ft in back, and stepping (pique) onto this "upstage" R leg (on a diagonal so again you are a bit angled), and the left out in arabesque in back being clearly visible to the audience.... So I thought this was "the right way"... Thanks again for your comments!

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Victoria Leigh

No, the piqué arabesque can be on any leg going anywhere! :) In what you describe, if the leg is properly behind you on the diagonal, ie, you are moving to 1:00 in your clock, and the leg is directly to 7:00, then it is clearly visible. If, however, the upstage leg is not directly behind you in line with your direction of movement, then it might not be visible, but that would be quite incorrect...unless you were moving directly forward towards the audience instead of on a diagonal of course. But that is not what you are talking about. You can piqué, (or relevé) on either leg in almost any direction.

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LaFilleSylphide

A pique arabesque done in croisé is a very beautiful movement! I love it, especially with great placement and epaulment.

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Ludmilla

Thank you, Ms. Leigh! "...the pique arabesque can be on any leg going anywhere!" My gosh, that even sounds so poetic!! I wish my day to day instructors were able to explain as clearly as you do!! And thank you, La Fille!

 

I want to watch some video and see how many directions or positions of pique arabesque I can find within, for example 5 - 10 minutes of dance. Does a particular ballet or variation come to mind that is 'classic' in its varied use of pique arabesque? I realize it is "everywhere" but now I am especially interested in noticing this.

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Hamorah

Yes I agree that the waltz seems wierd done that way, but I am sure that there is no law against it!!! And of course you can pique onto both legs in any direction. Most exercises can be done in a variety of ways and just because we are used to doing them one way doesn't mean that it's wrong to do them another way. I take class on a sunday with a teacher who constantly surprises me and jerks me out of my belief that, after 62 years of dancing, I know every which way to do something, because she invariably finds a way that I don't know! A teacher told us that people who continue dancing to a late age ward off conditions like Alzheimers, because we are continually using our brain to pick up steps and also converting them to the other side. Thus I wreckon that anything that makes me think in order to pick it up (as opposed to doing it automatically because it's engrained in my body) is a good thing!

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LaFilleSylphide

I'd say as long as the teachers aren't completely lying or being unsafe, and they're temporary, it's okay to approach things with an open mind. I had a teacher who intentionally does things differently to get us out of our routine or to toss us out of our "box". Sometimes, student dancers can get stuck in a routine, and when introduced to something completely strange or different can be a fun brain-stretching exercise. :) For your enjoyment, here is a beautiful photo of a pique attitude in croisé that shows the command and sensuality this pose possesses!

 

http://media-cache-ec2.pinterest.com/upload/265290234271164184_cPdYnPXQ_b.jpg

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Ludmilla

La Fille and Hamorah - Thanks for the additional feedback. I only want to say, my small voice, that as a student I wish if teachers do introduce this (such as w/ the waltz turn that Ms. Leigh said she has never seen done that way -- important, I'd say, when an expert has not seen it before), that they might point out (just quickly in the demonstration - not to take class time but just a passing acknowledgement possibly) that it is not a usual (backed up by centuries of history, no less) execution of a step.... Such as when demonstrating, "...waltz turn - note, I am brushing my upstage leg..." so that students realize even the teacher knows that this is not the usual way.

 

Again it is not so much about steps but communication. Frankly in this case I don't even know if the teacher in question was aware that the way of executing this waltz turn was not usual..... I had to wonder if it was being done incorrectly -- I think a teacher owes it to themselves and a student if there is any question, to just inform students if it is an unusual, or their own interpretation, of a very common step.....

 

Thanks for the discussion as always, and La Fille thanks for that photo link! My -- the use of the core, head and fingertips not to mention gorgeous rest of it, too.... that is a most amazing pique arabesque!!

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Victoria Leigh

Actually, that photo is an attitude, I believe. However, if the knee were straight it could also be a beautiful arabesque!

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Ludmilla

Thanks for pointing that out, Ms. Leigh.... I was drawn immediately to her head and arms and didn't notice that her leg does seem to be in attitude.

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athena_wiles

So, usually, when a teacher gives a step done in an unusual way, I will ask about it. Not in a "you're doing it wrong!" accusatory manner, but in a "what are you trying to get me to learn from this?" sense. In your case, for the waltz turns, I might ask either "it feels awkward to do a waltz turn going this direction - what am I doing wrong/what can I do to make it easier?" or "is there something specific I should be working on doing the step in this direction?" I usually find my teachers respond really well to these types of questions.

 

If he has a specific intent in giving the step this way - e.g. to challenge you to work with unusual directions, or to make it easier to see in the mirror whether your standing leg is turned in or rolling at the knee, etc. - he should then explain it to you (which he probably should have done when giving the combination, but hey, sometimes teachers forget we can't read their minds). If he gives you a blank look or brushes off your question, that's when I'd start wondering why I'm bothering to take his class.

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Ludmilla

Hi athena -- Love your comments... I don't know the reason (I've stopped trying to understand dance teacher psychology in my town), but at the studio, from the AD on down, most of the time (I don't know if it is the moon, the stars, side of bed woken up on, or what -- I've stopped wondering) but the teacher consternation over questions is upredictable (but I notice it does seem to matter which particular students are in class that day....). Sometimes certain students being present seems to promote better teacher behavior in the class... (e.g. parents of children who take class at the studio?) I am amazed at their disrespect at times of the adult students - even if we are less experienced and less accomplished with ballet than they might like, the issue seems to be along the lines of 'why don't adults accept their authority in all matters without question..?'. The studio caters heavily to kids which I have come to think seems not unusual in terms of general, privately run ballet education. (Tell me if I am wrong but after college age, adult classes seem to polarize along the lines of basic beginner - hard for a fairly experienced adult ballet student to get too excited about - to 'maintenance' for highly trained, experienced ballet dancers. The in-between of that is really hard to find, I have found.

 

Your comments would be diplomatic, reasonable, and effective, if the instructor I am speaking of and the attitude at this studio toward adult students were what I would consider more professional. The teachers are very capable at dance and have good ballet qualifications, however, they seem to not only lack common good manners but also some fairly basic verbal and communication skills and willingness to explain (as the wonderful moderators at BT and its many numerous members, have.) I have had some wonderful dance teachers (unfortunately not for ballet - yet at least) who along with great technique have also been eloquent, patient, and amazingly giving in terms of sharing their art. (Also the recent passing of Yvonne Munsey - I believe that was her name - comes to mind.) Some ballet teachers want to share their art, have good verbal skills and don't feel insecure if someone asks for a bit of added explanation of a move. And they have respect for and interest in teaching adults, who bring maturity, wisdom and a lot of dedication to the effort and who I find are capable of incredible life-long learning. (And no one - not parents, etc are forcing them to learn -- adults are self-motivated, and have self awareness of what they want to achieve, which to me is a great plus, too.) But as school teachers need to have some affection for children in order to teach them, teachers of adults need to have some basic affection for people older than they, as well, perhaps.....? In this situation, my questioning the upstage leg for the waltz turn -- as I said early on in this thread -- would have simply made myself a target for animosity from this instructor, or the teacher for whom he was sub-bing, and I have learned when, and when not to risk that w/ these particular teachers. I don't have a feasible alternative to this studio for now I am afraid. I will keep your comments in mind though -- if there were a good strategy for dealing w/ the issue I would be glad to. I am always on the lookout for any ballet instruction at our local university, etc perhaps - some setting where I'd hope that the teacher has possibly some education credentials, possibly.

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Ludmilla

Hi athena -- Love your comments... I don't know the reason (I've stopped trying to understand dance teacher psychology in my town), but at the studio, from the AD on down, most of the time (I don't know if it is the moon, the stars, side of bed woken up on, or what -- I've stopped wondering) but the teacher consternation over questions is upredictable (but I notice it does seem to matter which particular students are in class that day....). Sometimes certain students being present seems to promote better teacher behavior in the class... (e.g. parents of children who take class at the studio?) I am amazed at their disrespect at times of the adult students - even if we are less experienced and less accomplished with ballet than they might like, the issue seems to be along the lines of 'why don't adults accept their authority in all matters without question..?'. The studio caters heavily to kids which I have come to think seems not unusual in terms of general, privately run ballet education. (Tell me if I am wrong but after college age, adult classes seem to polarize along the lines of basic beginner - hard for a fairly experienced adult ballet student to get too excited about - to 'maintenance' for highly trained, experienced ballet dancers. The in-between of that is really hard to find, I have found.

 

Your comments would be diplomatic, reasonable, and effective, if the instructor I am speaking of and the attitude at this studio toward adult students were what I would consider more professional. The teachers are very capable at dance and have good ballet qualifications, however, they seem to not only lack common good manners but also some fairly basic verbal and communication skills and willingness to explain (as the wonderful moderators at BT and its many numerous members, have.) I have had some wonderful dance teachers (unfortunately not for ballet - yet at least) who along with great technique have also been eloquent, patient, and amazingly giving in terms of sharing their art. (Also the recent passing of Yvonne Munsey - I believe that was her name - comes to mind.) Some ballet teachers want to share their art, have good verbal skills and don't feel insecure if someone asks for a bit of added explanation of a move. And they have respect for and interest in teaching adults, who bring maturity, wisdom and a lot of dedication to the effort and who I find are capable of incredible life-long learning. (And no one - not parents, etc are forcing them to learn -- adults are self-motivated, and have self awareness of what they want to achieve, which to me is a great plus, too.) But as school teachers need to have some affection for children in order to teach them, teachers of adults need to have some basic affection for people older than they, as well, perhaps.....? In this situation, my questioning the upstage leg for the waltz turn -- as I said early on in this thread -- would have simply made myself a target for animosity from this instructor, or the teacher for whom he was sub-bing, and I have learned when, and when not to risk that w/ these particular teachers. I don't have a feasible alternative to this studio for now I am afraid. I will keep your comments in mind though -- if there were a good strategy for dealing w/ the issue I would be glad to. I am always on the lookout for any ballet instruction at our local university, etc perhaps - some setting where I'd hope that the teacher has possibly some education credentials, possibly.

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Clara 76

Is it possible he was teaching a ballroom Right turn from Viennese Waltz? It would start with the right foot brushing forward and then stepping (i.e. placing your weight on the right foot by the end of count 1, followed by the left foot passing through first, gliding over to seconde, transferring the weight by the end of count 2, bringing both feet together on count 3 completing 1/2 rotation throughout the 3 counts, then reversing the movement for counts 4, 5, 6.

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