2 3 Ballet Webb: July 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

Mad Monday Fear of Falling



Mad Monday Fear of Falling

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to turns, is fear of falling. Gasp! This morning I ran across a great website and a number of suggestions for dealing with this fear.

Here is the link to the complete article including 6 suggetions: http://www.ballettipsandtricks.com/?cat=5
I like the phrase the author uses to describe how often to repeat a series of steps: do it until it is “boringly easy”. This is so true!

Another thing to consider is why you are afraid of falling. The answer is usually simple: you don’t want to get hurt. Getting injured is probably a dancer’s worst fear. So what do you do about that? Learning how to fall is the best thing, and taking modern dance classes can help you do that. Then there is the philosophy that you should fall at least once in every class so you will be familiar with the sensation. I’m not sure about that level of frequency, but my most fearless students seem to be those who fall (without injury) all the time.

The bottom line is this: keep working to overcome your fear. Baby steps. Like everything else, it gets better with practice.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #21qq:
“There are several ways to overcome fear of falling.”

Link of the Day:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drcEqlAA4F4
Quote of the Day:
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 
― 
Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Saying





Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday Three Things



Saturday Three Things

There is a theatrical quote by Kenneth Haigh that can easily be adapted for dance: “You need three things in the theatre -- the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something.”

The adaptation would read: “You need three things in a dance performance -- the choreography, the dancers and the audience, and each must give something.”

The choreography must be compelling or at least interesting to watch, the dancers, of course, must give their best, and the audience must be attentive, if not appreciative. Three things that make up a successful performance.   


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #:
“Three things are needed for a successful performance.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“It's one of the tragic ironies of the theatre that only one man in it can count on steady work -- the night watchman.”
-         Tallulah Bankhead

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Fun Friday Spin



Fun Friday Spin

I talk a lot about physics and how a little knowledge in this area can be very helpful. A case in point is today’s prop demonstration. Helping students add an extra turn (or more), is a constant goal in a dance class. Today I’ll talk about double piqué turns, but the concept works for other turns as well.

For double piqué turns, the secret is to increase the speed and tighten up the diameter. As I’ve said before, a double turn is not simply two singles. There is a different, quicker rhythm involved. To illustrate this, take a necklace with a small pendant on it and undo the clasp so you have one long piece. Now spin the necklace slowly, with one end in each hand, so it is moving in large circles. This is like a single turn. But then pull the chain outward (moving your hands away from each other) and observe what happens. The diameter of the spinning circle gets smaller – and – here’s the cool part: the pendant now moves faster.

The concept is this: decreasing the diameter of the turn increases the speed. Therefore, even if you don’t change the amount of force but simply make the diameter of your turn smaller (tighter), your turn will spin faster and you’ll be able to achieve more revolutions. Greater results for the same effort! How cool is that?


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #20u:
“Spin a necklace to show how to increase turns.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“When you conclude a paper, you should always close a door and open a window”
― Benjamin K. Bergen

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Valentina Blinova



Throwback Thursday and Valentina Blinova

There are several photographs of Valentina Blinova on the internet, but factual information about her life is scarce. One source http://michellepotter.org/articles/valentina-blinova-an-unexpected-find quotes Kathrine Sorley Walker as saying: “she was not trained at the Imperial School in St Petersburg but was ‘the product of a course founded after the Revolution in an attempt to reform teaching methods.”

Valentina Blinova moved to Germany after her training and went on to dance in Monte Carlo. She soon established a partnership with Valentin Froman and in 1936 traveled to Australia with de Basil’s company.

Here is an article of the time (from the same source quoted above) that describes a typical dancing day in the life of Valentina Blinova:

“A typical day in the life of Valentina Blinova, one of the principal dancers of Colonel de Basil’s Monte Carlo Russian Ballet.
Up at 8.30 in the morning. A cold shower, gymnastics and physical exercises for twenty minutes. A cup of coffee with some toast for “breakfast.” Then a brisk walk to the theatre. Practice. Then rehearsal till quarter to one. Lunch comprising steak or other meat, salad, a sweet, no alcoholic drink, no smoking. Back to the theatre for rehearsal at 2.30 or 3 o’clock until 5.30 or 6. Home for a rest. A cup of tea. Then if she is dancing in the first ballet back at the theatre at 7 o’clock (no dinner). After the performance supper comprising meat, salad and perhaps a glass of Australian wine, which the principals of the Russian Ballet are very fond of. Then to bed.
This is Blinova’s daily routine, the only variation being Sunday which is spent in the open air—in the hills or the bush or on the beach.”


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Factoid #141:
 “Valentina Blinova was a dancer with the Ballet Russes.

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Reality continues to ruin my life.”
― Bill WattersonThe Complete Calvin and Hobbes

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wild Wednesday Classroom Etiquette



Wild Wednesday Classroom Etiquette

In a classroom setting, during center practice, it is traditional for the men to stand in the back line, and to dance after the females do the combination.

Unfair! I’ve heard this complaint many times. It is because the men assume it is a sexist practice (and the belief that ballet “favors” the women). But there is a very practical reason for both traditions.

The men stand in the back line in the center because they are usually taller than the women. Simple as that. But this practice is also related to the tradition that men dance after the women. Men dance after the women so the person playing the piano can slow the tempo down when the men’s group steps forward onto the floor. Again, the etiquette has a practical purpose and is designed to help the class run as smoothly as possible.

This is not to say that these rules are set in stone. Any teacher/director can change things during class as they see fit. But these etiquette practices for men are still followed in many classrooms.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #2d8:
“Male dancers usually stand in the back and dance after the females in class.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Manners are the ability to put someone else at their ease...by turning any answer into another question.”
― Tina Brown

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Terminology Tuesday Taqueté



Terminology Tuesday Taqueté

A term I seldom hear is taqueté (tak-TAY). The word means pegged, and is used to describe a series of movements, usually on pointe, that utilize sharp, quick actions of the feet.

I have, however, often heard what I believe is a coloquial version of this word when a choreographer says “tak-tak-tak” when encouraging a dancer to move sharply. Is this an onomatopoeia? (According to Merriam-Webster: “the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz, hiss); also a word formed by onomatopoeia”.)

Whatever, the word taqueté or the onomatopoeiaic tak-tak-tak means “move quickly and sharply”.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #30b:
Taqueté (tak-TAY) means pegged.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Being smart as a whip includes knowing when not to crack it.”
― Vera NazarianThe Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Mad Monday Melt



Mad Monday Melt

Let’s start the week off with yet another image for feeling two-way energy. You will remember Ballet Secret #16:  “Imagine peeling a banana to feel two-way energy.” Today’s image is similar.

Picture a lit candle with the wax dripping down its sides and the golden flame reaching upward. That’s your two-way energy: flame up, wax down. It also helps to feel the radiant glow of the candle’s flame in your expession – illuminating everything and everyone who sees you perform.

A double-good image!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #1uuu:
“Imagine a candle with the wax melting down and the flame reaching up.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Eager



Sunday Eager

Today’s secret is a portion of a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt (see above and below). I love the idea of reaching out with enthusiasm, with overwhelming eagerness - every day. It’s not easy to do on a daily basis, but I’ll bet you can remember what it feels like to be so motivated or driven by something that that’s exactly how you felt. Hungry.

Hang on to that memory and try to capture that eagerness every day. Do it “without fear” – that’s an important point. Keep moving forward with a hunger for whatever wonderful experiences await.

Be eager. Be fearless.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #140:
“Reach out eagerly.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday Superstition Graveyard Bouquet



Saturday Superstition Graveyard Bouquet

Following the closing night of a show it is traditional to give the director (and/or the leading lady), a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard . Presumably, this is done to signify the end (or death) of a production, hence the graveyard flowers.

Or, more likely, since performers are not usually paid well, they stole flowers from a graveyard as a way to pinch pennies and still offer congratulations to their boss and/or leading actor. Perhaps to butter them up for the next audition?

At any rate, this rather macabre custom is sometimes done even today and its true orgin remains a mystery.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #130:
“The true origin of the the graveyard bouquet is a mystery.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Nothing is more powerful than custom or habit.” 
 -Ovid

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