2 3 Ballet Webb: November 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mad Monday Swoosh



Mad Monday Swoosh

I’ve talked about arabesque and how the upper torso is actually in front of the supporting leg, not directly over it. When dancers try to get the shoulders to stay over the supporting leg, the position becomes tense and static. And dance is movement, after all.

Even posing or picture steps are never static. There is always a sense of movement, an alive-ness to everything. So think of arabesque as a swoosh – a Nike logo if you will. Feel the sense of movement in the position even when you are almost standing still.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #18s:
“Imagine arabesque as a swoosh.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”
― Martha Graham

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Veteran’s Day


Happy Veteran’s Day




Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place — police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.”
-Sidney Sheldon


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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday Superstition Overlook



Saturday Superstition Overlook

I keep finding superstitions related to dressing rooms and backstage preparations. I never knew there were so many.

Apparently, it is unlucky to have someone look in the mirror over your shoulder while you are putting on your make-up. Who knew?!  In my experience this happens regularly, and I don’t remember anything bad happening (other than ordinary performance stuff).

Why is this unlucky? Perhaps it goes back to vampire legends or something similar, since vampires are said to have no reflection. I guess having a vampire look over your shoulder might well bring bad luck (except perhaps in the Twilight series).

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstitious Secret #145:
“ It is bad luck to have someone look over your shoulder into a dressing room mirror.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“There is no thing known as bad luck. There is luck, or no luck at all.”
― Jeffrey Fry

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Fun Friday Tennis Balls



Fun Friday Tennis Balls

I love a good prop. They are indispensible in a ballet class – for any age. Props are most often used with pre-schoolers or very young dancers, but I find they are effective for any age.

Case in point (no pun intended): teaching students to “squeeze their landings” or “resist upward” when descending from a relevé is often a difficult concept. Gravity works, after all, and too often the heels come back to the floor with little or no resistance. Ouch!

Place a tennis ball under each heel when the dancer is in relevé (use less-than-firm tennis balls for this); and have then feel the correct “squash” and resistance of the landing.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret 20w#:
“Use tennis balls under the heels to illustrate how to correctly descend from a relevé.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“Try throwing a ball just once for a dog. It would be like eating only one peanut or potato chip. Try to ignore the importuning of a Golden Retriever who has brought you his tennis ball, the greatest treasure he possesses!”
-         Roger Caras


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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Throwback Thursday and le Comte de Sissonne





Throwback Thursday and le Comte de Sissonne

A few steps in ballet are named not for how they are executed, but for a person – usually a person who excelled in that particular step or skill (balon, for example). The step sissone is on that is believed to have been named for a person, a man in the court of Louis XIV. Sissone is also one of the earliest recorded steps.


“The dancers in the court of King Louis XIV were not professional dancers as we think of them today. All noblemen were trained in dance and comportment, and those who happened to be at Versailles often danced in the ballets put on at the court. Le Comte de Sissonne was a page de la grande écurie at the court of Louis XIV so it is highly likely that he participated in the performances and the training.”

I couldn’t find an illlustration that portrayed le Comte de Sissone, and little seems to be know about his association with this common step. But it does appear that it was most likely named for him.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #256:

“François César de Roucy, le Comte de Sissonne is believed to be the person sissone was named for."

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“... the pursuit of origins is a way of rescuing territory from death and oblivion, a reconquest that ought to be patient, devoted, relentless and faithful.”
― Amin Maalouf, Orígenes

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wild Wednesday Seat



Wild Wednesday Seat

Understanding how far the body should angle (turn) in positions like croisé is difficult for many students. Most dancers realize they shouldn’t face directly to the side, but often they still turn too far. The actual amount of turn is minimal, and that’s what makes it problematic.

The simplest answer is this: if any part of the seat can be seen in the mirror, the  body has turned too far. Instead, dancers should see both hip bones, not just one, in the mirror.

Two hips, no seat!


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #5h:
“In angled positions like croisé, the seat should never be visible in the mirror.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“Photography is basically an art of arranging the angles!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Terminology Tuesday Forty-Five



Terminology Tuesday Forty-Five

I was recently perusing Gail Grant’s indispensible book Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet (what ballet nerds do for fun), and discovered page after page of different sissones. Whew!

We all know the standard sissone. See Ballet Secret # 15mm: The step sissonne was named for the originator of the step; and is pronounced see-SAWN. But who would have guessed that there are more than forty-five variations!

I’m not going to list them all, but many of them will be familiar, such as sissone battue (a beaten sissone), or sissone à la seconde (a sissone to the second position). Others are less familiar, such as sissone subresaut (a term of the Russian school) which is the same as temps de poisson.

If you’d like to see all the sissones listed, here is a link to Gail Grant’s book: https://archive.org/stream/GailGrantBalletDictionary/Gail%20grant%20ballet%20dictionary_djvu.txt
Or, you can purchase your own copy. It’s a very handy book to have around.



From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #30n:
“There are more than forty-five sissones.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“I gave up many times but I never quit.”
― Ken Poirot

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Marvelous Monday Magic Wand



Marvelous Monday Magic Wand

Today’s postural secret is closely related to a prop image described in Ballet Secret # 20h:  A metal telescoping pointer can illustrate the concept of“pulling up”.

Any time a prop can be used in a ballet class it heightens the effectiveness of the idea being presented. Educators call these things visual aids. But if you don’t happen to have a handy-dandy telescoping pointer, simply describing the idea is the next best thing.

“Pulling up” is often a confusing term for dancers, especially beginners. “Lengthen the spine” is a better directive, but even this phrase has its limitations. Try this: tell students to imagine the spine as a constantly expanding magic wand that extends in two directions: up to the ceiling and down through (and beyond) the floor. The crucial idea here is that this is a constant, gentle lengthening.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #1bbb:
“Imagine the spinal column as an ever-expanding magic wand, moving up to the ceiling and down through the floor.”

Link of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
“In this world in which we live simplicity and kindness are the only magic wands that work wonders”
― L. Frank Baum, The Emerald City of Oz

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday November Welcome



Sunday November Welcome

Suddenly, it’s November! It seemed to happen fast this year. Yet, here we are on the early threshold of winter and the joy of seasonal holidays.

Take a moment to look around outside at the changing seasons. No matter where you live, (even in Florida!) there’s something new to see. For those who live near colorful leaves, it is especially impressive. Take a walk outside – the world is fascinating and uplifting for those who pause to observe.

Welcome November!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #252:
“Take a walk outside and observe.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”
― Clyde Watson

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday Superstition Trio



Saturday Superstition Trio

It is believed to be bad luck to have three lit candles on stage. I’m guessing this most likely came from a time when theater fires were common and often tragic. Even today,  fire regulations would probably prohibit open flames on stage.

But there are other reasons for this supersition. According to
 “It is believed that the person who stands closest to the shortest candle will be the first to die.”

“While it is adhering to the "rule of three" having lit three candles on stage is considered bad luck. It is said that the person nearest to the shortest candle will be the next to marry or the next to die.”

Whatever the source or reason, it’s best to banish all fire from the stage.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #144:
“Never light three candles on stage.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
― Madeleine L'Engle

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