2 3 Ballet Webb: February 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday Superstition: Mirror



Saturday Superstition: Mirror

Here we go again with yet another theatrical superstition. This one is about mirrors. Apparently it is bad luck to have a mirror onstage. Very bad luck.

Most people know the old saying that breaking a mirror brings seven years bad luck, but if it happens onstage it brings seven years of bad luck to the theater itself, not just the person who broke the mirror.

Mirrors are fine, of course, backstage. But bringing one onstage runs of the risk of the seven year problem. Unless, of course, it’s onstage in a musical called A Chorus Line. Hmmmm….

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #112:
“ A mirror onstage is bad luck.”
Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”
Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Freaky Friday Mirrorless



Freaky Friday Mirrorless

Dancers easily become dependent on the mirror. Admit it. Especially on things like ecarté and assemblé, when looking in the mirror ruins the perfect balletic line.

Try taking class without the mirror. That’s right, the whole class. If the room has drapes that can be drawn across the mirrors, close them. But most studios don’t have this option. So, turn your back on the mirror whenever possible. Yes, it will feel weird. Do it anyway.

There’s no mirror onstage, and sometimes that fact alone can cause issues with balance and confidence. Not things you want right before a performance!

So be brave. Ignore the mirror – at least for one class – and see what you experience.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #21eee:
“Try taking class without the mirror.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” 
-Stephen King

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Sonja Henie



Throwback Thursday and Sonja Henie

Born in Norway in 1912, Sonja Henie studied ballet as a child, but soon discovered that ice skating was her true passion. However, she continued to study dance with a former teacher of Anna Pavlova, and combined ballet skills with her skating. She competed in the first Winter Games of the Olympics in 1924 when she was eleven years old. In 1928 she won gold, and again in 1932 and 1936.

After retiring from competition, she moved to the United States and made her Hollywood debut in the movie One in a Million (1936), a musical that displayed her figure-skating talents. Other movies followed: Thin Ice, Happy Landing and Sun Valley Serenade.

In 1960 she retired and focused on her interest in art collecting. But in 1969 she was diagnosed with leukemia, a fact she kept secret until she died on October 12 of that year. She is buried on a hilltop overlooking the Henie-Onstad Museum.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #121:
“Sonya Henie was an Olympic figure skater who later appeared in movies.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I want to do with skates what Fred Astaire is doing with dancing.”
- Sonja Henie

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wild Wednesday Pearls



Wild Wednesday Pearls

Well, here it is Valentine’s Day! I wonder what surprises await you today. Candy? Flowers? Jewelry? Perhaps a string of pearls. Now that I mention it, a string of pearls is a handy postural image.

Imagine the spine as a string of pearls, secured at the bottom by a knot. Now imagine the knot coming apart, allowing the pearls to slide down the string, slowly – putting increasing space between each pearl. This will help you feel the elongation of the spine so necessary for good posture in ballet.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #1qqq:
“Imagine the spine as a string of pearls.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Technical Tuesday Frown



Technical Tuesday Frown

Feeling tired lately? Maybe you are working too hard. Maybe you are frowning and using all of the 43 muscles it takes to do that. Try smiling instead. That only uses 17. Big difference! But…

That being said, some other sources say there isn’t that much of a difference. Hmmm.  According to www.sciencemadesimple.co.uk/curriculum-blogs/biology-blogs/muscles, smiling requires 10 or 12 muscles, frowning 6 - 11. The difference isn’t great, but there it is. So you are still using more energy than you need – and we all know that one of the secrets in ballet is to use the energy you need, no more and no less. And in ballet every little thing, no matter how little, counts.

So relax. Smile more  and frown less. You might have energy left over that can be used for other things like pirouettes and jumps...

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #28tt:
“You use more muscles in your face when you frown.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I'm not frowning, I'm just smiling upside down.”
- Anonymous

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Mad Monday Look Both Ways



Mad Monday Look Both Ways

You undoubtedly remember your parents telling you to “look both ways” before crossing a street. Well, there’s a time in ballet when it is a good idea, too.

When balancing at the barre, from the first balances on two feet to the ones on one foot; after establishing a level of comfort with the eye focus straight ahead, then move your head back and forth, slowly looking both ways. Right, center, left, center.

This prevents the dreaded frozen stare, plus, it keeps the neck relaxed. It’s hard to move your head if your neck is tense! It also alerts you when your balance may be just slightly off.

Always look both ways!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #22ddd:
“Look both ways.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Aldous Huxley

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Rainbow



Sunday Rainbow

Rainbows are lovely, awe-inspiring and relatively rare. Just seeing one is inspirational and uplifting.

Today’s image reminds us to be a rainbow for someone else. It's a good thought. You never know how much a small act of kindness or a word of encouragement might mean to someone having a bad day. And things like this are so needed – right now – in our world of stress and bad news.

Be someone’s rainbow. Give them an unexpected boost, a few rays of color in a otherwise gray day. It will do wonders for you, too.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #124:
“Be a rainbow for someone else.”
Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”
Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You: A Sourcebook of Joy and Encouragement

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saturday Macbeth Superstition



Saturday Macbeth Superstition

Here is yet another superstition related to performers and theaters.

Never say the name of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth in a theater. If you must reference this play for some reason, simply say “the Scottish play”. But where did this superstition come from?

Joseph Whelan, theater history professor at Syracuse University states: “this comes from the original days of the play, when theatergoers believed in witches. It was believed that the incantations the witches say in the play could actually produce bad spirits or work as a curse.”

So, to put it bluntly, saying Macbeth in a theater is the same thing as cursing the show.

Scary.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #111:
“Never say the name Macbeth in a theater.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair".
- Shakespeare (Macbeth Act I, Scene I)

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Fun Friday Labor Saving



Fun Friday Labor Saving

It occurred to me the other day that ballet technique, with all its wonders, has labor saving devices built right into it. That’s right! Just like robotic vacuum cleaners, computers and dishwashers, to name a few labor savers, ballet technique has them too.

For example, the brush of a grand battement, when used correctly, provides the push (impetus) for the kick, avoiding the need for hauling the leg up using more effect than is needed.

One of the biggest labor saving devices in ballet is – you guessed it – the plié!  Used correctly it provides impetus with less effort plus cushions landings to prevent crashing. How cool is that?

Ballet is chock-full of labor saving devices. I’ll bet you can think of others.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #7ppp:
“Remember the labor saving devices in ballet technique.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.”

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Oleg Tupine



Throwback Thursday and Oleg Tupine

Born on November 17, 1920 on board a ship near Istanbul, Turkey, Oleg Tupine was a dancer with the Original Ballet Russe. His parents were Russian, but he studied dance in France with Lubov Egorova in Paris.

He was often called “A Gracious Cavalier”, because he was tall and handsome. In addition to performing with the Original Ballet Russe, from 1949-1953 he danced with Denham’s Ballet Russe. His partners included famous ballerinas Alexandra Danilova, Tamara Toumanova, Maria Tallchief, and others. In 1949 he appeared in the movie “Silver Lining”.

He retired from performing in 1963 and assumed the directorship of the Virginia Ballet Company and School along with Tatiana (Tania) Rousseau. The two later married.

Oleg Tupine died on June 15, 2003.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #120:
“Dancer Oleg Tupine was born on board a ship, in the waters near Turkey.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

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