2 3 Ballet Webb: April 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Technical Tuesday Ache



Technical Tuesday Ache

Many dancers (and others) claim that they can predict weather changes by how achy their muscles and joints feel. Although some have debunked this, there may be some truth to it. The worst weather for symptoms seems to be damp and cold, while warm and dry weather is associated with feeling better.

It may be because of changes in barometric pressure that occur before bad weather. This can cause tissues in the body to expand, leading to pain and/or swelling. This shift is subtle, but dancers are so tuned in to their bodies it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they can, indeed, predict the weather.

Another possibility: in 2007, researches at Tufts University leaned that every ten-degree drop in temperature corresponded to a slight increase in osteoarthritic knee pain.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Anatomical Secret #27ddd:
“Your achy joints may be able to predict the weather.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping
When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”
― Dr. Seuss

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Mad Monday Rails



Mad Monday Rails

Wherever the pelvis goes, the dancer goes. Think about it. When you want to sit down, what do you do? You move the pelvis downward until you are seated. This works well for most things in life, but in dance the pelvis is often the culprit of unbalanced positions.

Imagine, when you are moving in any direction, that the pelvis is gliding along on a shiny, polished set of railroad tracks. This prevents any bumps or jostling and allows for smooth transitions.

If the pelvis is tipping, tucking, or tilting, the ride will be bumpy. And we all know there is no tipping, tucking, or tilting of the pelvis (most of the time) in ballet.

Ride the rails!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #22l:
“Imagine the pelvis gliding along shiny railroad tracks.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station.”
― Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Three Rules



Sunday Three Rules

The above photograph says it all.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #225:
“Remember the Three Rules of Life.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Life gives us choices. You either grab on with both hands and just go for it, or you sit on the sidelines.”
Christine Feehan, Night Game

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday Shrinking



Saturday Shrinking

The word shrink means: “become or make smaller in size or amount”, and “move back or away, especially because of fear”.

Well! This is why there is no shrinking in ballet. Making oneself or one’s movements smaller is always counterproductive. Remember Ballet Statute #13:When in doubt, step out.”  Reaching out elongates the muscles and helps them work more efficiently. Shrinking makes everything contract. Shrinking  didn’t exactly work well for the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, did it?

Then there’s the fear part. Yes, I know. We’ve all been there. Scary steps, fear of failure or falling (gasp!) – it’s all a part of the wonderful world of ballet. But throw at least a little caution to the wind and stamp out shrinking!


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Statute #120:
“There is no shrinking in ballet.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Don't shrink your standards, link yourself with those who think and ink like you.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Fun Friday Moon



Fun Friday Moon

One of the loveliest positions in ballet is probably arabesque. It creates a classically beautiful curved shaped, poised atop an elongated supporting leg.

To achieve this, it is helpful to imagine the body and the working leg creating the shape of a vibrant crescent moon, shimmering delicately on top of the supporting leg. This crescent moon curve prevents a common problem: trying to put the upper torso directly on top of the supporting leg.

Instead, an arabesque is actually a curved shape balanced atop a fulcrum point (supporting leg), and the torso is actually a little bit in front of the standing leg. You can see this yourself in many photographs of arabesque.

Crescent moons for arabesque!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #18n:
“Imagine the body and working leg in arabesque as a crescent moon.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“We ran as if to meet the moon.”
― Robert Frost

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Harriet Toby



Throwback Thursday and Harriet Toby 

Harriet Joan Katzman was an American dancer born in Paris in 1929. She began her dance studies with Alexandre Volinine, then with Ludmilla Shollar, Anatole Vilzak and at SAB in New York.

Using her mother’s maiden name, she made her debut in the Markova-Dolin ballet The Seven Lively Arts revue in 1944. In 1946 she joined the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, and in 1948 Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris. In 1949 she became a leading soloist with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.

On March 3, 1952, Toby and 36 others were killed in a plane crash when their flight from Nice, France ran into a flock of migratory birds. In a final irony, the last ballet she danced (the night before) was the Spanish ballet Of Love and Death.

Harriet Toby is buried in Paris at Cimetière deu Père Lachaise.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #130:
“ Harriet Toby was a dancer/actress who died in a plane crash.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wonderful Wednesday Around



Wonderful Wednesday Around

In en dedans pirouettes with a preparation that goes to second, the path the working leg takes is important. The correct prep produces a turn that is almost effortless, and – dare I say – fun.

The secret is this: the leg must go around – not under – as it moves from fourth position to the side. The tendency is to move the leg in a straight path, going under to passé instead of around. The leg should move though a half rond de jambe en l’air that progresses from low to high.

This “aroundness” is what gives a good impetus to the turn, and also prevents tucking the pelvis under (a common problem if the leg moves in a straight line to passé.) The deepest part of the plié is achieved when the leg hits second.

This preparation for en dedans pirouettes is also the same preparation that is used for à la seconde turns, so master one and you have the other!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #14ss:
“In an en dedans pirouette preparation, the leg goes around, not under, to second.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
― Carl SaganCosmos

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Technical Tuesday Amazing Knees



Technical Tuesday Amazing Knees

Our knees are truly amazing. For example, with each step our knees bear three times our body weight, or five times (that’s half a ton!) while walking downstairs or downhill. https://www.itbandz.com/know-5-knee-facts/

This makes me think about how much stress our knees endure when we jump in a single dance class, and it emphasizes again how important it is to keep “knees over toes” in plié!

The knee is the biggest and most complex joint in the body. It gets its strength from four bones: the tibia (shin), patella (knee cap), femur (thigh) and fibula. But it gets even more interesting: everyone has unique kneecaps – there are no two people with the exact same kneecap structure.

Perhaps kneecap scanning will someday replace fingerprinting!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Anatomical Secret #27ccc:
“With each step, your knees bear three times your body weight.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Stop Thief!
Policeman, policeman,
Help me please.
Someone went and stole my knees.
I’d chase him down but I suspect
My feet and legs just won’t connect.
-Shel Silverstein

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Marvelous Monday Flat Front



Marvelous Monday Flat Front

A common problem with pirouettes is leaving the seat behind during the relevé. You know what I mean. As you relevé, the passé doesn’t form in a straight position, instead, the reluctant derriere stays back. And without a straight alignment, the turn will not work well – it will, as a dancer friend of mine used to say, “be warped”.

To get into the perfect alignment, think of having flat front hips. You can even try a few turns with the palm of each hand on your “teotard line” (see previous blogs), and you’ll feel immediately if the hip line is broken instead of flat.

For even more fun, imagine being Flat Stanley when you pirouette. This can work too!

This flat feeling is essential for properly functioning pirouettes. Think about it!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #14rr:
“Think “flat front” for the hips in pirouettes”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Do flat-earthers believe that other planets are also flat?”
― Oliver Markus MalloyInside The Mind of an Introvert

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The Two D Combination



The Two D Combination

Everyone has dreams. If you talk to a small child he or she will tell you in no uncertain terms about how they plan to be a fireman, or an astronaut – or, dare I say – a ballet dancer. They have big dreams. Dreams are motivational.

But to make these dreams a reality takes more than dreaming, as we all know. It takes another “D”: dedication. Combine the two Ds and you have a powerful mix.

The definition of the word dedication is: “the quality of being committed to a task or purpose”. Commitment means doing things when you’d rather do something else, or when you’re tired, or when you’re bored, and so on and so on. Commitment then, is the glue that holds the two Ds together.

On those days when you feel less than motivated, remember the two Ds.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #131:
“Combine the two Ds.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
― Beverly Sills

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