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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A question for the experts - developpes


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I was watching a video on YouTube of a teenage dancer, and I noticed in her developpes a la seconde that she had a really dramatic tilt in her hips. I know that allows for more height in the developpe, but every time I've seen kids do that, I just think they look like they're about to topple over. Of course, being an adult, I've given up on fighting for extra inches in the height in my developpe, but I do wonder how much tilt in the hips is permissible?

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Deanlaur it is all in the eye of the teacher. What is permissible is something that should be measured by a professional and taught to a student. The problem, good ballet is dependent upon someone else's eyes to begin and teenagers will be teenagers. There are also differing schools of thought on the subject. IMO, with a student of beginner and intermediate level work, level hips are a "must be". In advanced work, hips must be level, to a certain point. The reality is that the higher the leg, the more the hip will raise. With differing ideas of how the leg should look when side, how much the hips raise will also be a cause to consider. When working with the working leg to the side, opposite the hip/shoulder/ ear 180 degree line, with the profile of the heel facing straight front, the hips will raise more. If the leg is place direction side with the working leg a bit forward of the shoulder and the heel is rotated to face the ceiling, the hips will remain more level to the floor. In both cases the hips must remain square to where one is facing.

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What do you think of this idea -- and especially our experts at BT4D...... What i do at the barre (working on being as precise and correct as possible at barre where I have the chance to focus on precision and correctness, I strive for -- and think my teacher expects -- precision and correctness, meaning no tilting of hips. To me that is 'cheating' and counter to the work in ballet to do thing correctly (and not going just for the highest leg possible, but correctness in technique.)


However, in center, grand allegro, a dance piece do I enthusiastically and sometimes for expression, veer outside of that "Zone of Correctness"? I would have to say yes, and I see very experienced and some professional dancers, in the classes I take doing just that as well.


So maybe it is a matter of one's own judgement; please forgive me if this sounds just terrible, but 'what you can get away with and still be correct' - again I see a spectrum of correctness even in professional dancers. I realize that may be a very lay-person type of viewpoint.


For me though aesthetically-- and again as I always say I am far from expert!! --if I can visibly see a marked lifting of the hip I have less respect somehow for that dancer as they are not foliowing the rules that beginners struggle with and if you do all that beginning work only to throw it out the window when you are more advanced I do not admire that approach.


That is just a thought and I may have gone off topic etc but I do consider this in my classes, seeing the dividing line between professional/advanced dancers who follow the rules and are still gorgeous and what I might call 'hacks' -- so sorry this sounds so harsh and mean-- but that is my own head talking and observing, to discern what it is that I personally, admire --- who lift their hip and no longer have the line at all -- it just gets un-classical and undisciplined to me at some point. I don't know if this is the first poster's idea about the developee, that is being discussed but that is the chord that the question strikes in me........... Sorry if any of my comments are not relevant, etc --

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Perhaps ideally, you might consider blending the 2 ideas to make your classes a performance!

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Ludmilla, that reminds me of one of my teacher's ways of correcting us. She'll point out that while what we're doing may be easier, it's most definitely not correct, and she'll follow it up by saying that after years of a professional dance career, she knows ALL the ways to cheat. Of course, the biggest difference between a pro cheating technique and a student is that with the pros, they're much better about hiding it!


Thank you, vrsfanatic, for answering my question. I of course had to stand up in my living room and work out what you described to see what difference it would make, which I'm sure my cat enjoyed thoroughly!

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:clapping::clapping::clapping: I am sure your cat loved it!

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Ms. Clara -- that is a fantastic idea!! I can't wait to do just that in class!

Denlaur - interesting comment and I know it is in a way humorous but actually to me it is a very serious question in terms of balancing between absolute "by the book" technique, being correct of course to keep the integrity of the movement, but pushing oneself just a bit to be realistic as well. What your teacher said about hiding it is what I see pro dancers who sometimes drop in and take the classes I am in, doing some version of.. the ones that hide that "cheating" though that is probably not a good word at all -- I might say "tweaking" the movement a tad to make it bigger but while maintaining the integrity of the movement and the correctness - maybe that is the artistry of performing/executing ballet.


I am not advocating doing things incorrectly ----This may go off on a tangent........but I see it as also looking fabulous and technically excellent...and being correct yes,..but still the pro dancers are not "perfect" -- alas no human is. ... what I like to think about is how some of the dancers I admire the most, give a fully credible illusion of perfection - even if they are not really perfect........ Again this is an idea, a concept of artistry -- not a technical comment....... Sorry this may be way, way off the topic but the original topic brought this to mind.


To bring this back to the original comment about developees, just 'for the record' - Obvious mistakes and incorrect technique -- Not okay -- and also not beautiful either!


:) Ludmilla

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Isn't it physically impossible to get the new generation of sky-high developpés without lifting of hips? Our pelvis and hip socket would inhibit the leg going to such heights no matter how flexible you were with perfectly level hips that did not tilt. I would be a bit reluctant to say that I respected a higher extension less because there was a hip tilt.

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La Fille ---

Yes that is the heart of the matter it seems........... I like the way you explain it but what I was trying to say is that I (am in the camp that does) respect a higher extension less if the line is distorted (a too-tilted hip).

(Other forum threads have talked at length about this and it is a topic of almost never-ending interest I think.) :cool2:

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There is a difference in what is acceptable in classical work and contemporary work. Acrobatics in a tutu is, IMO, not acceptable unless it is a comedy or satire.

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Jumping in late here. My teacher, when I was a young performer, taught a very pronounced tilt of the hips. VERY. It always looked terrible to me, so I never did it. Nor, did I keep my hips perfectly level. I agree very much with VRSFanatic that it is in the eye of the teacher. What I teach my students is to , in retire, pull up on the standing side as much as possible...really up there, centering the weight over the standing leg. While in retire, and fully pulling up on the standing side, press the working hip down. (I wish I had a picture). What you will get is a retire position with the working hip ever so slightly higher than the standing hip, but the weight is very well centered over the standing leg. Then the developpe is performed from this position, keeping the working hip in place. So the pelvis isn't very tilted, but slightly tilted. Are you going to get the leg along side the ear? Nope. Do I think that the leg along side the ear is a beautiful line? Nope. I agree, that in performance it is OK to lift the hip a bit more to get the leg a bit higher, but it isn't the esthetic that I find the most beautiful.


Just my opinion.

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Ms. Leigh,


Thanks for explaining the distinction... in the adult open classes I take though there is good correction, basic technique is not dwelled upon. Since the students are there to work on themselves to a large degree, in deciding personally what to strive for in class, do you suggest working toward classical excellence; or, on the other hand, a contemporary sensibility in technique, say for developees? (It could certainly apply to other exercises or steps, too.) Or mastering both and knowing when one or the other is appropriate?


I think without realizing it, at the barre or for an adagio exercise I strive for a classical sensibility and correctness in standard technique. Then for freer, larger grand allegro for instance (and again I have probably seen advanced or professional dancers in class take this approach - though I may not have not been consciously aware of this distinction as something a student is faced with, till now...) I take a somewhat freer approach to a developee for example, while wanting to remain correct though -- no acrobatics or sloppiness -- I fully agree with that.


Is it a matter of realizing the distinction and adapting oneself to the particular purpose of the exercise, or dance piece, or setting (at barre with a teacher who emphasizes classical technique vs. a different type of class focus)? To be somewhat versatile, I can see being very aware of both approaches and knowing when to use one or the other -- or being prepared to use one or the other depending on the teacher or choreographer, I would think is how it's done..... is that right?


Sorry if I am asking about something that should be completely obvious but I had not thought of this distinction that you mentioned -- except in the 'final product' of stage productions which of course would be clearly dictated by a choreographer.


If others have comments about this issue in a class setting, that would be interesting of course, but I have to say, for me, Ms. Leigh is the final authority here....


:3dnod: Thank you -- Ludmilla

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Ludmilla, I am not a fan of distortion in ballet. Classical technique is classical technique. Distorting that is not something that needs to be practiced. If a choreographer wants it that way, it's just not that hard. Anyone can get their leg up higher if they give up alignment and rotation to do it.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh!


This really helps to hear. I can tell that I want to follow the classical -- and if going outside of that seems needed for some reason perhaps seeking that outside of ballet altogether - but for ballet, the basics are there and mean everything - distorting is not the way to go.


I want my new motto to be: Allignment, forever! :) This gives me new inspiration for understanding and appreciating basic technique, though that too goes without saying as a student, but I feel I see it in a different way now --- This thread has turned out to be really fascinating.


Thank you, again!

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