2 3 Ballet Webb: September 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Allowable Attitudes


Saturday Allowable Attitudes

Whenever I hear someone says “she (or he) has a spectacular attitude”, I hope they are referring to the balletic position. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Having an inflated mental attitude is something dancers must always guard against. It prevents progress and alienates others. It is often seen in younger dancers, who haven’t matured enough to realize what they are doing. Conversely, poor behaviors are often exhibited by students who feel inadequate and are covering it with “attitude”.

How can a teacher handle attitudes? By being consistent. Consistent in adhering to the school’s policies, and by consistently giving praise and encouragement when it is deserved. If all of this fails, discussing the situation and expectations with the student and parents in private can help.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Statute #93:
Allow only attitudes of the body, not attitudes of behavior.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“If you want to know the real reasons behind that attitude, think of the thought behind that attitude”
Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Fun Friday Flip


Fun Friday Flip

Piqué fouettés to arabesque are often problematic because the dancer doesn’t use a clean, sharp spot (if it turns it spots, remember). This bogs down the whole operation and makes the student unable to go through the three required positions: devant, à la seconde, and arabesque.

An image that helps develop a quick, clean transition is this: tell the students to imagine flipping a pancake. Most of them will be familiar with this process even if they don’t cook, and understand that a pancake is flipped cleanly and quickly to produce the best result.

As the students begin the fouetté, say “Flip the pancake!”

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #14ee:
“In a piqué fouetté, imagining flipping a pancake.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Throwback Thursday Prima Ballerina


Throwback Thursday Prima Ballerina

The term “Prima Ballerina” is sometimes used to describe any notable ballet dancer. But the term is actually an awarded title, along with “Prima Ballerina Assoluta”, a higher and rarer award. The term began during the Romantic era, in Italy and was reserved for the best of the best.

Strangely, for such a prestigious award, there is no universally accepted procedure for determining who should receive the title. Usually, it is done within the dancer’s own ballet company, but sometimes it is done by the government.

The first documented use of the term as a form of company rank was in 1894. Marius Petipa bestowed it upon Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani. Other dancers that hold this title are Galina Ulanova, Alicia Alonso and Yvette Chauvirè, among others.

The United States has no formal procedure for bestowing the title of Prima Ballerina.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #183:
“The term “prima ballerina” is an awarded title.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wild Wednesday Circular Patterns


Wild Wednesday Circular Patterns

By now everyone is most likely involved in rehearsing for the upcoming performances of Nutcracker, and I’d guess that somewhere in that choreography is a circular pattern – often seen by dancers doing piqué turns or something similar.

The problem with circles is maintaining their size. As dancers move around the circle, the circle –almost inevitably – gets smaller. Why is this?

Dancers are taught to “replace the dancer in front” and that is mostly true. The problem is this:  if the dancer goes directly (in a straight line) to where the dancer before them was, it cuts the circle ever so slightly. That’s why the circle gets a little smaller on each go-round.

Instead, replace the dancer in front by going slightly outside where they were. It’s as though a circle were drawn on the floor, and the dancer stays on this curved line (slightly outside the dancer in front).

This way, the circle maintains a constant size.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #21l:
“To maintain a circular formation go slightly to the outside of the dancer in front of you.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Two main categories of people are needed in your circle; those who give you the necessary support to accomplish your dreams and those who become beneficiaries of what you achieve.”
Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the dream

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Technical Tuesday Malleoli


Technical Tuesday Malleoli

You have probably noticed the bony bumps on each side of your ankle. You see them every time you put on your ballet slippers, and especially when you cross your pointe shoe ribbons.

These interesting projections are the malleoli. The word malleolus (singular), comes from the Latin and means “small hammer”.

The medial malleolus in on the inner side of ankle at the end of the tibia, and the lateral malleolus is on the outer side of the ankle at the end of the fibula.

Now you know what those bumps are!  

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #:
“The malleoli are the projections at the base of the tibia and fibula bones.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.

—"Old Man's Advice to Youth: 'Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'" LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”
Albert Einstein

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Mad Monday Umbrella Knees


Mad Monday Umbrella Knees

Keeping the knees aligned over the toes in plies can be problematic – even for professional dancers. Those pesky knees have a penchant for rolling around in the worst way.

Here is an image that works well – especially for young dancers, but it can be useful for everyone.

Imagine that your knees are umbrellas, and they must always be correctly placed to keep the rain off the feet. If the knees move out of alignment with the toes, a soaking will occur.

Umbrella knees!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #2aa:
“Imagine your knees are umbrellas that keep the rain off your toes.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Rain is nature’s art; umbrella is man’s art. When you walk with your umbrella in a rainy day, you walk with a super art which is a combination of two different arts!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Miracle-Gro Thoughts


Sunday Miracle-Gro Thoughts

All summer I nurtured my herbs, vegetables and flowers. I watered them and boosted them with Miracle-Gro and other fertilizers. Even the straggly little petunia plants I bought in a two-for-one sale thrived, despite initially looking like they had only a slim chance.

This week I attended a play and heard the phrase “The thoughts you feed are the ones that grow”. It reminded me that, like my plants, the ones I feed are the ones that get bigger and stronger.

What thoughts are you feeding? Good ones or negative ones? Which ones do you want to nourish to become big and strong?

You get the idea.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #183:
“Think about which thoughts need fertilizer and which ones don’t.”

Links of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.”
Roy T. Bennett

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Imagery Statute


Saturday Imagery Statute

This Ballet Statute is one of the most important. I’ve talked about imagery a lot, and I’ve used it in many, many Ballet Secrets. But imagery is so powerful that it is worth repeating.


“Imagery can be thought of as the cognitive or imaginary rehearsal of a skill or situation without overt muscular movement.”

This site also suggests:

“In order to get the most out of your imagery, try to keep the
following principles in mind:
>> 
Practice regularly: Just like normal physical practice, imagery probably will not have an immediate effect and both diligence and patience will help. Try to set aside a few minutes in the morning to set you up for the day ahead, evaluate via imagery for five minutes after each class or lesson, or go over the learning points of the day in your head before going to sleep.
>>
It is better to carry out short, regular imagery sessions than long, infrequent
sessions. A few minutes make a good start – and should ensure that concentration stays on task!
>>
Mentally rehearse specific skills or qualities you are working on in your technical
training, above and close to your current level of performance.
>>
Use all of your senses so you feel you are actually in the situation executing the skills.”

Much of this refers to longer mental rehearsals, but I also like to use short, simple images in class – like holding a beach ball for fifth en avant, for example. You can find many of these images by going back over my previous blog entries.

Today’s Link of the Day is an article that details some of the science and reasoning behind all of this. Search for more articles online and you’ll find them.  Imagery is not just a woo-woo idea, and nowadays most people recognize that. There is science behind it, and the results speak for themselves.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #:
Never underestimate the power of mental imagery.

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Fun Friday Partnership


Fun Friday Partnership

When dancers become accomplished enough to start taking pas de deux classes (sometimes called “doubles work”, or simply “partnering”), a whole new world opens up.

Despite what some people think, it is not just about the male dancer “hauling the female around”. A pas de deux is a partnership in every sense of the word. Each dancer has their role to play, and each dancer is responsible for the success of the other. That’s when the magic happens.

For the male dancer, his responsibilities include lifting and presenting his partner so she looks her best at all times, and – most importantly – he is dependable. She has confidence because she knows he will always be there for her.

For the female dancer, her responsibilities include being strong and well-placed (never leaning or wiggling around), and – most importantly – she is dependable. He knows she is going to do the choreography as rehearsed, and will be where she needs to be when he is preparing to lift her, etc. He has confidence in her.

Another point: Each dancer is always kind to the other. No snarky remarks, no nasty criticisms. Difficulties are worked through with constructive suggestions and caring communication.

Does all of this sound like a marriage? It is, in a sense. Without a caring commitment to the other person, a pas de deux will end up looking more like championship wrestling.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #27b:
“A pas de deux is a true partnership: each person is responsible for the other.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Before building any relationship, think on how your partner could be the best companion to you in achieving your life’s earnest goals”
Rajasaraswathii, Success-Talks : For Evolution of Your Success

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Throwback Thursday and Franziska Mann


Throwback Thursday and Franziska Mann

Born in 1917, Franziska Mann was a dancer, and some sources say that she was one of the best dancers of her generation in Poland.  Her stage name was Lola Horovitz. She began her career in Warsaw before the war.

When the war began she was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, and later in the Hotel Polski along with other prominent Jews. Later she was moved to Bergen-Belsen.

When she was taken to Auschwitz, she killed an SS officer named Schilinger. This incident was described by another Jewish prisoner who survived, Filip Müller.
An account from the Find A Grave website (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=55229207 ) described what happened:

“Suddenly she threw an article of clothing at Schillinger, hitting him in the head. As he opened his holster, Franceska Mann grabbed his pistol and shot twice mortally wounding him; the third shot wounded a second SS man, Emmerich, who later recovered, but was disabled.
 Inspired by her courage the fellow prisoners attacked the SS guards and severely injured two of them, but could not do anything against the machine guns and were within minutes shot or driven into the gas chamber.”

Her death date is listed as Oct. 23, 1943, in Poland.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #: 182
“Franziska Mann was a dancer and a resistance heroine from Auschwitz.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“Courage is found in unlikely places.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wacky Wednesday Hip Bungi


Wacky Wednesday Hip Bungi

A common problem during rond de jambes at the barre is the fact that the supporting hip wants to move with the rond de jambe, instead of applying resistance to it. This mistake allows the entire pelvis to move and makes it appear that the dancer is doing the hula instead of a classical rond de jambe.

To keep from doing the hula at the barre, imagine a bungi cord attached to the supporting hip. This cord runs from the hip to the wall and is tight enough to provide a counter-pull during each rond de jambe.

Now the hips will remain calm and squarely to the front!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #22g:
“Imagine a bungi cord tying your supporting hip to the wall during rond de jambes.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

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