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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balanchine Torso Twist?


sseesseekay

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sseesseekay

Hey there, everybody!

Growing up, I had no specific "method" of training, eclectic teachers who grabbed things from different methods and styles.
However, my teacher recently has told me I have a very "Balanchine torso twist." She says it is fine, but she does not like it.

I definitely do know about the phrase since it has been used before, but anytime I observe a Balanchine trained dancer I don't notice a twisted torso, I actually think they are more straight up-and-down than Vaganova or Bournonville trained dancers. Can anyone clarify to  me what this "torso twist" really means?

 

thank you!

 

-dina

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LaFilleSylphide

I dunno. I guess in some of their repertory works, like Rubies and Who Cares, they had some exaggerated hip and torso movements, but it was more part of the choreography for style and not something that would necessarily be found in daily class perhaps. The transitions in Concerto Barocco (which I love, it looks very fun to perform) also would involve some twist to be able to quickly transition that way, but again, it's all executed in a very controlled way and not necessarily a specific feature of the style or something perpetuated through Balanchine dancers. I mean, the folks with strong Balanchine background I mostly notice the way they hold their hands, the depth of their plie in pirouette prep, their arms pulling in centrifugal force in multiple pirouettes, and very very very swift footwork. He did like sharp angles in his choreography, but that was more in the repertoire. They do have more reach it seems when it comes to their arms and the shape of line they use, but I wouldn't call it a twist by any means.

In short, I have no idea what your teacher is talking about.

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Perhaps she is talking about upper body placement in arabesque?  She may feel that instead of the torso facing forward with the side arm swept back, you turn the torso towards the side and maybe that side arm goes too far back?  The only way to be sure is to ask her for clarification.

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Sometimes a more "Russian" style (not strictly Vaganova, though) has more extended epaulement - which can look extreme in the eyes of someone trained in English or French styles. Could it be this?

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Miss Persistent
On 8/7/2018 at 3:23 PM, Doubleturn said:

Perhaps she is talking about upper body placement in arabesque?  She may feel that instead of the torso facing forward with the side arm swept back, you turn the torso towards the side and maybe that side arm goes too far back?  The only way to be sure is to ask her for clarification.

That was my first thought also.

This is an EXTREME example of a more open "Balanchine" style line here

As opposed to a more academic arabesque line here

I agree with Doubleturn though - the only way to really find out would be to poiltely ask for clarification so you could address her concern correctly :)

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  • 1 month later...

Mmm.  I have a theory about what she means...  Over the years, I've noticed lots of folks trained by people who worked for Balanchine over-rotate their ribcages so they sit at 20-45 degree angles from their hips.  Or perhaps it's more the opposite...their lower bodies are turned too far, and they compensate with the upper body.  For example, in tendu croise devant, they might have their lower bodies rotated more towards the corner of a rectangular room than their own square, but open up their upper body so it faces fully front.  I trained with a couple first-generation Balanchine teachers myself for a couple years, and they didn't teach that way, so perhaps it's not about the teaching so much as about the students not understanding how to orient themselves in a rectangular room.  If I find a video with an example of this, I will put a link here.

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