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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday and Lucia Chase


Throwback Thursday and Lucia Chase

Lucia Chase Ewing was born in Waterbury, Connecticut on March 24, 1907. She was the third of five daughters born to Irving Hall Chase and Elizabeth Hosmer Kellogg Chase. She studied ballet at the Vestoff Serova School, but was quoted as saying that acting was her first love, and dancing a hobby.

However, she studied ballet seriously under Mikhail Mordkin. In 1937 she debuted with the Mordkin Ballet, and soon became its principal dancer. In 1938 Richard Pleasant became company manager and he wanted to create an even bigger company that would not only preserve past classical works, but also present the best contemporary ones.

1n 1940, Ballet Theater became a reality, with Richard Pleasant as director. Lucia Chase danced with this company and also provided financial support. In 1945 she became co-director along with Oliver Smith. Together they guided and developed the company until 1980, when Mikhail Baryshnikov took the helm.

On the 35th anniversary of ABT, New York City presented her with the Handel Medallion, (the city’s highest cultural award), and  in 1981 she received the Norman Lloyd Award of the North Carolina School of the Arts (for distinquished achievement in dance). During her long career she received many such awards.

Lucia Chase died in 1986, at age 88.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #98: 
“Lucia Chase was co-founder and co-director of American Ballet Theater.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”
― Criss Jami

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wacky Wednesday Drone


Wacky Wednesday Drone

Those new drones are pretty interesting things. They allow a bird’s eye view of many things, providing a perspective that may not have been seen before.

It made me think of cambrés and how they allow a dancer a permitted glimpse of their feet in fifth position. A drone’s eye view, if you will. Since dance technique prohibits looking down directly at the feet, this is a special thing.

This brief moment, before the dancer “kisses their knee”, gives them a chance to make sure the fifth position is correct – with no rolling on the arches, or clenched toes, etc. A drone moment.
                                                                       
From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Ballet Secret #22e  
Think of a cambré (port de bra forward) as a drone’s eye view to check the placement and turn-out of fifth position.”


Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I've always believed in savoring the moments. In the end, they are the only things we'll have.”
Anna Godbersen

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Technical Tuesday Platysma



Technical Tuesday Platysma

Facial expressions are critical for dancers. Not only in performance but also in class. Remember the blog about the “politely arrogant” expression?

A group of muscles responsible (in part) for some facial expressions is not, oddly enough, found totally in the face. Instead, it is a wide band of muscle fibers called the platysma. 

These muscles go from the collarbone (clavicle) upward to the jaw. It assists in moving the lower lip and mouth downward, especially in expressions of sadness, surprise or fright. Very useful in certain dramatic ballets…

The platysma overlaps the sternocleidomastoid that I’ve blogged about before.

Now you know!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Secret #25s:
“The platysma is a group of muscles that allow certain facial expressions.”



Quote of the Day:
“She was not one for emptying her face of expression.” 
 
J.D. Salinger

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                                                                    Ballet Secret #

Monday, August 22, 2016

Marvelous Monday Directions




Marvelous Monday Directions

The working leg is permitted to go to three basic places. Except in rond de jambe or circular movements, these positions are absolute and unchanging: front, side and back. I’ve blogged before about these three.

The most problematic one is the side position, or à la seconde, because it is determined by the degree of turn-out a dancer has. Most of the time, this spot is not directly, exactly, to the side. Instead, it is slightly in front of the side seam on the dancer’s leotard.

This past week one of my students gave me a new image for this: the working foot in à la seconde is opposite the arch of the standing foot. Violà! This works too. 

“When you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.”

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Secret # 3v:
“In à la seconde, the leg is opposite the arch of the standing foot.”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Constant


Sunday Constant


Here we are at the beginning of a brand new school year – one with no mistakes in it yet. But mistakes will come and so will change. Change is a certainty in life, and one of life’s greatest stressors whether the change is good or bad.

How can you handle this constant in life effectively? Here are seven tools:

1.       Be aware of unavoidable change and accept rather than deny or avoid it.
2.       Face your feelings and avoid negative self-talk like “It isn’t fair”, “I must be a bad person”…etc.
3.       Adopt a grateful attitude. This helps you see the change as a positive and reminds you to not forget all the wonderful things you already have.
4.       Avoid negative thoughts. (See #2) Replace them as they occur with a positive thought.
5.       Relax. Consciously relax by slowing your breathing – or by simply remembering to breathe!
6.       Set new goals that excite and motivate you.
7.       Maintain relationships with supportive people in your life.

Other things that can help are: keeping a journal, and/or developing a new hobby or doing more with an existing one. Anything that keeps you positive will help you weather life’s changes.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Secret #28:  
Change is a certainty in life.”

                Links of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.”
Lao Tzu

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Pull




Saturday Pull

Dancers are familiar with the directive: “Pull up!” I’ve blogged about this before. Unfortunately, students often do pull up – but from their chest. This throws the body backwards, causes the spine to arch and destroys correct alignment. Scary. Remember, if you must fall, fall forward – and never backwards.

To pull up effectively, you must think of pulling up from the ears and/or the top of the head. Also, imagine lengthening the spine at the same time. (Hmmm. That could be a poem: At the same time, lengthen the spine…).

I have blogged about these things before in different ways – search the site and you’ll find them.

At the same time, lengthen the spine - you’ll feel fine…

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Ballet Statute #80:  
“Never pull up from your chest.”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Ideas come from everything”
Alfred Hitchcock

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