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Friday, September 30, 2016

Fun Friday Fakes




Fun Friday Fakes

In ballet, sometimes things are not always what they seem. Those fantastic double saut de basques or double step-overs, or double assemblés en tournant are not really doubles. Gasp!

Yes, you read that correctly. They are sort of – well – fakes. Each of these doubles are, in reality, only one-and-a-half rotations. They look like doubles, however, so you get a lot of appreciation for something that isn’t as hard to do as it appears. And since most things in ballet are more difficult to do than it might appear, we can embrace these “fake” turns. 

Why is this double/not a double so? Simple. It’s the preparation for the step. By the time the dancer is on relevé, or in the air, a half turn has already happened. Therefore the rest of the turn only consists of one-and-a-half revolutions – even thought it looks like a complete double.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Secret #22bbb:  
“Some turns are “fake” doubles.”

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Quote of the Day:
Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.”
Samuel Lover

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday and the Paris Opera Ballet



Throwback Thursday and the Paris Opera Ballet

Created during the reign of Louis XIV, what became the Paris Opera Ballet started with the founding of the Academy of Dance in 1661. The King decreed that this school would be free and no tuition would be charged. Its aim was to train and promote the perfection of dance. Admission would be through a selection process, and this method exists today in many renowned dance training facilities throughout the world.

However, at the end of the Romantic Period, the school began to have problems, due in part to the fact that ballet’s popularity had spread, especially in Russia. It managed to survive due to the efforts of dancers like Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Zambelli, Alber Aveline and Jacque Rouche who directed the company from 1914 until 1944. Earlier, in 1930, Serge Lifar became the company’s director and dancers included Marjorie Tallchief and George Skibine (see today's video link).

Today the Paris Opera Ballet remains as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world, and as of August 2016, its director is Aurélie Dupont, a former dancer with the company. Here is what she says about her new position:

I look on my tenure from the perspective of a woman, a French dancer, and the exponent of an ambitious yet generous project. For me, it’s about finding the right balance between the company’s illustrious past and its future at the epicentre of French innovation. It will be period of constant development both in terms of the classical and the contemporary. There will be an uncompromising emphasis on excellence, to further enhance the Company’s international reputation. Of course, the dancers and the young generation, at the very heart of my project, will be its driving force.”

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Dance History Factoid #128:  
“The Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest surviving ballet company in the world.”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:


“Only small minds want always to be right.”
- Louis XIV

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wacky Wednesday Lines

Wacky Wednesday Lines

Today’s thoughts come from the book of ballet classroom etiquette. There isn’t such a book (that I know of), but it comes from there nonetheless.

In the center, dancers are usually taught to stand in neat lines, with the second line and subsequent lines arranging themselves in the “windows” or spaces between the dancers in the line in front of them. This is so everyone can see the teacher and the teacher can see them.

But why lines? Why not just a random assemblage of bodies? The first reason – see previous paragraph. Another reason is to provide the necessary safe bubble of space around each dancer so no one collides with anyone else. Yet another reason is that it prepares dancers for corps de ballet work where they have to be meticulously in line with one another.

Deep breath. Then, another reason is so smaller groups of dancers can easily and efficiently be formed: “The first group will be the first two lines…etc”.

There you have it. The reasons dancers dance in lines in the center.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid # 94
“Dancers stand in lines in the center for several reasons.”

Links of the Day:



Quote of the Day:
“The best listeners listen between the lines.” 
 
Nina Malkin

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Technical Tuesday Clavicle



Technical Tuesday Clavicle

Dancers are familiar with this pair of bones.  They are usually very visible on the upper chest and dancers are aware of preventing this area from slumping forward (rounding the shoulders) so the clavicles become less visible.

The clavicles, often referred to as the collar bones, form a kind of strut between the shoulder (the scapula) and the sternum.  The word clavicle comes from the Latin for “little key”, and this refers to the double curved shape of the bone.

A broken collar bone is not uncommon due to its prominent location. For dancers, a break usually occurs when the arms are extended out to break a fall and the force becomes transferred to the clavicles. 

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Secret #42n:  
“The clavicle has a double curve and is often called the collar bone.”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

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