2 3 Ballet Webb: February 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wacky Wednesday Marble Pick Up



Wacky Wednesday Marble Pick Up

The most problematic area in pointe work is strength in the metatarsals. This is the area you need to really push the shoe into a lovely pointed foot. It’s more difficult than it sounds.

For beginning pointe dancers, the shoes often feel like immovable bricks, and unfortunately, they often look that way! It requires strength and articulation in the feet and especially the toes and metatarsals to be able to point (stretch) the feet as effectively as in regular, soft ballet shoes.

One exercise that can help is picking up marbles with your toes. That’s right. Just doing this little thing can help strengthen the required areas. The fact that it is fun to do is a bonus!

Try it for a few weeks. You’ll be surprised at the results!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #23c:
“Pick up marbles with your toes as a strengthening exercise.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Thank you," I said bravely, dropping the syllables cleanly, like marbles, and secretly full of the most pathetic pride imaginable. I had spoken to strangers.”
― Alexis HallWaiting for the Flood

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Technical Tuesday Right and Left



Technical Tuesday Right and Left

According to the website https://brightside.me/article/100-quick-and-fascinating-facts-about-the-human-body-38305/ , right-handed people chew most of their food on the right side of their mouth, and left-handed people use their left side.

However, according to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11494464 : “This study did not confirm the existence of a dominant side of the mouth with respect to chewing.” It also states: “Results show that, in general, women believe they chew more on one side than the other, whereas men feel they chew on both sides equally.”


How, exactly, does chewing work? Here is an explanation from  http://www2.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=329950
“When food is placed in the mouth the tongue usually places it on either the left or right side for chewing. The right and left temporomandibular joints (TMJ) both guide and support the mandible when chewing. Studies have found that the TMJ on the opposite side from where the food is placed receives the majority of the stress. So when food is chewed on the right the TMJ on the left is under the most stress and vice versa.

So, it appears that we might chew more on our dominant side, but we might not. Do your own experiment. Which side do you use? If you are a lefty for pirouettes, do you also chew your food mostly on the left? It sounds like this could be a new study.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Anatomical Secret #27ww:
“Right-handed people might chew most of their food on the right side of their mouth, whereas left-handed people might do so on the left.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“He never attempted to sleep on his left side, even in those dismal hours of the night when the insomniac longs for a third side after trying the two he has.”
― Vladimir Nabokov

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Mad Monday Plié Parachute



Mad Monday Plié Parachute

On Saturday I talked about how every jump must land in a plié. That’s because a plié is the body’s parachute. It allows a controlled, safe descent.

Remember the parachute image next time you jump – or do almost anything for that matter. Think of the air under a parachute and how it fills the canopy, allowing the skydiver to float safely back to earth. That’s what a plié does for a dancer – it cushions what would otherwise be a crash landing. Scary.

Plié parachutes!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #1rrr:
“A plié is your body’s parachute.”       

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“That's like leaping off a precipice and trying to knit yourself a parachute on the way down.”
― Kelli Jae Baeli

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Motivation



Sunday Motivation

What does motivation mean to you? What do you do to stay motivated?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word motivation means:  “the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated. : a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”

How does a dancer stay “eager to act or work” in a competitive, challenging and often discouraging environment? It all comes down to desire and that desire will be different for every person. What do you desire most out of your dance training? Identify it, and then find ways to push yourself toward that goal. Ways to inspire yourself might include:  a motivational song, a mental image of a future job or role – or it might be relishing the simple joy of a daily accomplishment in class, like mastering a particular step.

Think about what motivates you, then focus on it.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #126:
“Motivation involves many different things.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“What you stay focused on will grow.”
― Roy T. Bennett

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Never Land



Saturday Never Land

Now, although this post sounds like something from Peter Pan, it isn’t. It’s about jumps.

Never land a jump without a plié. This may sound like common sense, and most dancers are aware of the sheer scaryness of landing on straight legs, but it happens anyway.

This problem is usually caused by too much tension. Sound familiar? A plié requires a certain amount  of relaxation in the knees, so a tense body coming down from a jump is more than scary. It always reminds me of those cartoon characters falling off a cliff and cracking and breaking into a million pieces.

So, when performing any jump combination, focus on the pliés.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Statute #113:
“Never land a jump without a plié.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“It's a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Pilgrimage

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Fun Friday Knee Umbrellas



Fun Friday Knee Umbrellas

Ahhh, the problem with pliés is….fill in the blank. Since pliés are the most important step in ballet, it helps to solve as many problems here as you can. One of the most vexing and frequently seen problems is rolling on the arches (pronation). This is when the little toe comes off the floor and the knees are no longer aligned over the feet. Scary. More than scary.

To help with this, imagine that your knees are umbrellas. That’s right. And these umbrellas must always be placed so that the feet will never get wet in the rain during pliés.

Knee umbrellas!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #2cc:
“Imagine that your knees are umbrellas.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“An umbrella with many holes is better than no umbrella!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Zelda Fitzgerald



Throwback Thursday and Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife and muse of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was born in Montgomery Alabama on July 24, 1900. As a daughter of a prominent judge who served on the Supreme Court of Alabama, she grew up living a life of privilege.

Her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald was a rocky one, but due to his success with his book This Side of Paradise, they became celebrities during all the excesses of the Roaring Twenties. However, their spending habits were excessive and they were soon forced to leave the US for France, where they heard they could live more cheaply. Here F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby and Zelda took up painting.

A little known part of Zelda’s life was ballet. In 1925 she became fascinated with it, and began taking lessons in Paris. By 1927 she decided to become a professional dancer. According to an article in https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/zelda-fitzgeralds-ballet-years : “In a few years, Zelda had danced herself into an obsession, and mental illness erupted through the cracks of her physically exhausted body.”

In 1930 Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia and from then on spent her life in and out of mental institutions. In 1944 F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack and on March 10, 1948, Zelda died in a tragic fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #122:
“Zelda Fitzgerald decided to become a professional ballet dancer at age 27.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I am really only myself when I'm somebody else whom I have endowed with these wonderful qualities from my imagination.”
― Zelda Fitzgerald

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wacky Wednesday Toy Car



Wacky Wednesday Toy Car

Does anyone remember those little toy cars that you’d run up and down on the floor a few times to rev them up? After that you’d let them go and they’d take off on their own across the room. It was a great example of potential and kinetic energy (see previous blogs).

Well, the brush of a grand battement is like revving a toy car. The brush provides the impetus (force) that allows the leg to fly – without having to grind it up there using the quadriceps and other muscles.

Therefore, the brush of a grand battement is one of the major labor-saving devices built into ballet technique (see previous blogs). How awesome is that?!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #12f:
“The brush of a grand battement is like revving  up a toy car.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Toys can be anything; children can play all morning with a stone and a plastic bucket. It is about how imaginative conductive and how many applicative possibilities toys offer.” 

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Technical Tuesday Light Bulb



Technical Tuesday Light Bulb

You know those cartoons that show a light bulb over a character’s head when they get an idea? Well, it turns out that this is not too far from the truth!

Your brain works on the same amount of power as a 10-watt light bulb. That’s it. Just that little bit of power creates the whole thing. Amazing. Not only that, your brain works, and generates the same amount of energy even when you are sleeping. I guess that explains all those crazy dreams.

Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at about 170 miles per hour. That’s how we are able to react so quickly to impulses like choreography, or an injured foot. Wow! That’s like the speed of a high-end sports car.

Sports cars and light bulbs. The brain is an amazing thing!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #28uu:
“Your brain works on the same amount of power as 10-watt light bulb.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”
― Roy T. Bennett

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Mad Monday Mouth



Mad Monday Mouth

We all have habits – good and bad. One habit I see in dance students involves mouth movements. These habits wouldn’t be a problem normally – after all, lots of us bite our lips or grimace when concentrating on some problem. But dancers must be alert to these unconscious habits and work to eliminate them.

I usually see these mouth movements when students are concentrating, and they are almost always unaware of what is happening. It helps if they are told to notice whether they do it when they are studying or reading. It’s probably a habit that has been with them most of their life, and didn’t cause a problem until now. And, as we all know, habits are difficult to break.

Do you bite your lips when concentrating? Being aware of these subtle habits is the first step to changing them.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #22j:
“Be aware of mouth movements.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“You have two eyes, and two ears, but only one mouth. This is so because you are supposed to look and listen more than you talk.”
Lucca Kaldahl

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