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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Foot flat on the floor?


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On World Ballet Day 2016 (today), watching just a few moments from SF Ballet class, the wonderful teacher made a comment: "Just stand naturally on the floor." He said this while instructing

students in the center, in an adagio I believe. This is a wonderful teacher! I've enjoyed watching his class with World Ballet Day at SF Ballet so much!! A bit today and last year as well.


His comment sounded wonderful because I've been struggling w/ a technique question. A number of the very good teachers I've had the great opportunity to study with (am still somewhat a beginner/beginning intermediate after about 4 years of study) have all said to 'stand as if there is a thin sheet of paper under your foot', talking about at barre, standing on supporting leg, working the other leg. I've been told all the time weight should 'be forward' or something to this effect. (I may not be able to paraphrase; the comments have been articulate and from teachers that I trust and are very experienced.) There have been some sensible reasons given for this when I've asked my teachers about this. But, I am still somewhat confused.....


I do understand by now, about getting weight out of heels -- that makes so much sense. However, from the time i first read GWW's book with illustrations, some graphs and great explanations, GWW seems to indicate that when standing on flat, on the supporting leg for many, many barre exercises normally, there is a 'triangle' at the bottom of the foot from ball of foot to center of heel and back to the spot near the root of about your 4th or little toe where weight should be, and i believe she even says 'primarily on the ball of the foot' or 'front of the foot' which coincides with what my teachers have said in one form or another.


The remark of Mr. Diaz, the SF Ballet teacher to 'stand normally on the floor' -- which he may not have meant literally -- or did he......? Could it be that it's okay to stand, at barre or in center with supporting leg flat on the floor without any particular 'lifting' up of the heel to achieve that "as if a sheet of paper had to fit under your heel" feeling?


I'm sorry if this is long and a cumbersome question....... But my brain can go around in circles wondering if one is really supposed to, during an adagio in center for instance, literally supposed to try to stand on the supporting leg with the heel lifted a tiny bit off the floor (to let the "piece of paper in"? Or is this more an "aspirational image" to help get weight out of the heels?


i can understand weight over ball of foot and weight forward -- then leg is quite engaged and aligned....... But why not take advantage of the whole flat foot on the floor when executing an adagio in the center? I could feel more stable that way........ I could see how weight out of the heels still doesn't have to mean heel slightly off the floor...?? But this is said by teachers so much to the entire class, I still struggle with trying to lift my heel sometimes when standing on a flat supporting foot, foot flat on the floor and wonder what BT experts say about this seeming "dichotomy", contradiction or at the very least quandary that i see this as though i may simply be being stubborn in not having weight "forward" or "out of heels" enough --


:nixweiss::nixweiss::wallbash: Thoughts? If I've explained this badly I apologize -- I hope there could be a way out of this quandary though to simply clear up how to stand on the supporting leg when it's flat on the floor, yet be correct............ :dizzy: ? Thanks!


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Ludmilla, I suspect you might be overthinking this. I haven't had a chance to watch the SF Ballet section of the World Ballet Day stream, but I imagine that the instruction was about putting weight into the foot. But this doesn't have to mean putting weight to the back - in the heel. That would never be a correction for young students, I'd think.


A very good teacher I take class with about once every 6 weeks or so gave me a really helpful correction: think about making your foot heavy when working in things like pliés and tendus. It's the same sort of correction as the "Push down to go up." So my interpretation of that is thinking about the straight line through my leg into my foot, and thinking about more weight into that triangle you describe. For me, it's focused on my instep and pad of the front of my foot, not my heel.


I've been doing some work with my students (not dancers) using the Laban kinesphere and the 7 efforts, and getting them to have a sense of the weight in their bodies - torsos and limbs - so that can find a sense of freedom in dynamic movement of their bodies through relaxation rather than tension. One of the exercises we do is about walking & the foot's connection to the floor. We don't think enough about our feet and the way they connect to the ground in Western culture, I find!


So maybe that's what the San Francisco instructor was asking his students to think about.

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A piece of helpful imagery I have come across is to think that there are roots from your feet going down into the floor. I know the "triangle" illustration of the points of support is very widespread, but I actually prefer the idea of the foot being like a toy car with a wheel on each corner, and they must all have contact with the floor. Some people can still manage to roll feet thinking of only one contact point on the heel.

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Hi Redbookish and Doubleturn!


These comments are very helpful from both of you!!


Redbookish -- "Making the foot heavy" -- that is such a great image to help me envision stability through the foot............ while not putting weight on the heel, of course (I know that is a treacherous phrase -- so prone to misunderstanding and problems....) You are right about my overthinking it. As with a few ballet requirements for placement, alignment and so on, sometimes the words used to explain mean a certain thing to me that may detract from actually 'physically understanding' it - if that makes sense...?


And then sometimes words and meaning and epiphany coincide in beautiful harmony. Sometimes it may not be doing this as far as weight and the foot and the floor which is difficult, but trying to reconcile some of the explanations of it with the actual feeling of producing this........


Understanding some ballet principles for me can just take time till my leg or foot goes "AHA!" and connects w/ the rest of the body...... in the right way. Talking about relaxation -- that's a good point, too. Sometimes in trying to understand or produce what a teacher's words specify can tie me in knots and get me rather tense which never brings about a smooth, natural and successful result. What you say makes lots of sense though and i want to think of it this way in my next class!! (as to the SF Ballet teacher -- sometimes one 'had to be there' to know just how someone may mean their particular phrase..... For me, what you and other live teachers say will guide me. This SF Ballet teacher (in the video, World Ballet Day) is wonderful - it is enjoyable and helpful to see a class online such as this. It is best not to take all words literally all the time though just to avoid confusion...... and thanks again for your comments today!


Doubleturn -- Thanks for this image! Roots of a tree -- that helps a lot and the image of a toy car is so whimsical and funny -- but gets the point across! It helps if the GWW 'triangle' diagram for you also may not exactly describe the most useful way to look at this issue either -- that clears up a lot of what i was wondering about.


Thanks again to both of you and take care!! I feel renewed in my effort -- in a relaxed way, open to new discoveries on this issue -- to connect to the floor with weight in the right place and putting that together with all the rest of body parts! :)

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  • 3 years later...
On 10/4/2016 at 10:32 PM, Ludmilla said:

On World Ballet Day 2016 (today), watching just a few moments from SF Ballet class, the wonderful teacher made a comment: "Just stand naturally on the floor."


Edited by FireDancer
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