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Monday, February 18, 2019

Mad Monday Short



Mad Monday Short

That’s right. There’s no place for short in ballet. I’m not talking about height, I’m talking about ballet technique.

Nothing should be short. No short alignment: there’s always a minimum of two directions of energy and one of them is up. There are no short legs or arms since there is always energy outward through the extremities.

Then there’s movement itself. There are no short steps. Always travel, reach out, use the space. Long, tall steps. No short, hesitant ones.

In other words, everything is always growing – outward and upward. Nothing is short in ballet except perhaps the variation of the four little swans.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #21rr:
“There is no ‘short’ in ballet.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Summer's lease hath all too short a date.”
― William Shakespeare, Sonnets

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Present and Future




From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #144:
“Think of the present creating the future.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Murphy



Saturday Murphy

We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” But I’ve noticed that dancers have their own set of laws like Murphy’s.

The first one is this: “Brilliant moments will not be witnessed by anyone of importance.” We’ve all experienced this one, right? You know, the five pirouettes you did alone in the rehearsal studio. Or the killer balance you did during class but everyone’s (dancers, directors, choreographers) attention was elsewhere.

Incidentally, one of the first known expressions of Murphy’s Law is believed to have been in reference to stage magic. In 1928 Adam Hull Shirk wrote: “It is an established fact that in nine cases out of ten whatever can go wrong in a magical performance will do so. The great professors of the art are not immune from the malignancy of matter and the eternal cussedness of inanimate objects”. This goes back to the fact that there is an old saying among magicians that dates to at least 1913 and states that it is impossible for a performer to know a trick so well that nothing can go wrong.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dancer Law #137:
“Brilliant moments will not be witnessed by anyone of importance.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.”
― Murphy's Law

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Fun Friday Weight



Fun Friday Weight

Drooping elbows! It’s a common problem for dancers especially when the arms are in second. It means the muscles in the back aren’t being used properly, and probably indicates there is a postural issue. It can be symptom of several problems.

But take heart! One fun way to make dancers aware of their arms and the resistance necessary to use them correctly is this: place light weights or bean bags on the upper arms in second position. If the elbows droop it will be felt immediately, and in the case of bean bags, they will fall.

After the dancers experiment with the props have them try the position without them, creating their own resistance.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #20v.:
“Place light weights on the upper arm to prevent drooping elbows.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Well-designed visuals do more than provide information; they bring order to the conversation.”
― Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Throwback Thursday and Maria Spelterini



Throwback Thursday and Maria Spelterini

During American’s centennial, many events were held in celebration. One was performed by Maria Spelterini, or Spelterina as she was often called. An Italian tight-rope walker, she was born July 7, 1853 and died on October 12, 1912.

On July 8, 1876 she became the first woman to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. If this wasn’t enough, she returned four days later and did it again with peach baskets tied to her feet. A week later, she did it yet again with a paper bag over her head.

The Niagara gorge became her backdrop and she walked across it with her wrists and ankles shackled. Using the tightrope as her stage, she danced and skipped across it. She also walked across it backwards.

She was apparently very graceful in all her performances and a local paper wrote: “…traveling the gossamer web with a graceful, confident step, which soon allayed all apprehension of an impending disaster."

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #210:
“Maria Spelterini was the first woman to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls.”

For Valentine's Day, the Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“All serious daring starts from within.”
― Eudora Welty, On Writing

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wild Wednesday Sewing Machine



Wild Wednesday Sewing Machine

Bourrées are wonderful – when they are performed well they create an incredible illusion. Especially if paired with a little dry ice fog, the dancer appears to be literally floating across the stage. Ahhhhhh….

So how does one do this? It’s a matter of making many, many, tiny steps. Big steps cause a bouncy, chunky look even if the legs are well crossed in between. Also, the knees must be relaxed. That’s what serves as a shock absorber so the upper body doesn’t look like the dancer is bourréei-ng on a gravel road.

Imagine the smooth purr of a sewing machine making rapid, tiny stitches in a piece of cloth. That’s how the bourrées should feel.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #33v:
“Bourrées should feel like a sewing machine making tiny stitches.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I am floating, I thought, completely without anchor, at the mercy of the wind.”
― S.J. Watson

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Terminology Tuesday Hauteur



Terminology Tuesday Hauteur

Arabesque à la hauteur [ah-ra BESK-ah la duh MEE oh-TUHR] means “arabesque at the height”.

In this arabesque the working leg is raised to a position that is at a right angle to the hip. Most of us today would call this a 90 degree arabesque.

An arabesque à la demi-hauteur is one where the working leg is at half-height, or halfway between the floor and the arabesque à la hauteur (90 degree arabesque).

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Terminology Secret #32:
“Arabesque à la hauteur means arabesque at the height.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”
― Annie Dillard, The Living

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