2 3 Ballet Webb: 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fun Friday Ingredients



Fun Friday Ingredients

If you’ve ever baked a cake or cookies and accidentally mistook the canister of salt for the one filled with sugar you know how horrible a small error can be. Yuck! Ballet is like that: simple ingredients like plié, tendu, etc. must be as perfect as possible so you don’t ruin the finished “cake”.

I’ve talked about this before – how ballet is like a recipe: http://balletwebb.blogspot.com/search?q=recipe
But this goes even further – back to the earliest, most basic steps. The sugar, if you will. The reason dancers practice so consistently, and do a ballet barre daily is to prevent any bad habits in the basic steps and to make them as beautifully perfect as possible.

It sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. Like any habit pattern, it gets easier with time, and in ballet, the results speak for themselves!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #21pp:
“The basic ballet ingredients are important.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”
― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Throwback Thursday and Olga Khokhlova



Throwback Thursday and Olga Khokhlova

Olga Khokhlova was born on June 17, 1891. She was  inspired to become a ballet dancer when she saw a performance featuring Madame Shoessont in France, and she went on to study in St. Petersburg at the Imperial Ballet School.

She joined Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, performing in Parade in 1917 where Picasso was in charge of the costumes and set design. Soon, Olga became his first muse, and first wife. They married in the spring of 1917. She retired from dancing soon after, possibly because of a chronic foot injury. A quote from ballerina Alexandra Danilova states that Olga “was nothing – nice, but nothing. We couldn’t discover what Picasso saw in her”.

In February of 1921, the couple had a son, but their marriage soon began to disintegrate. Picasso had met another woman, but didn’t want a divorce since it would have cost him half his property. Therefore, Olga was officially married to Picasso until she died in February 1955 after a  long illness.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #206:
“Ballet Russes ballerina Olga Khokhlova was married to Picasso.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
― Pablo Picasso

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wacky Wednesday Bungi



Wacky Wednesday Bungi

Here we go again with yet another two-way energy and postural image! Yes!

Imagine yourself as a bungi cord. One end is your head, the other is through the floor beyond your feet. The foot end goes out to infinity where it is firmly attached. Now all you have to do is feel that gentle downward pulling sensation.

Then, from the top of your head, feel the equal and opposite pull upward (and slightly forward).

Voila! Perfect posture and wonderfully effective two-way energy!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #1ttt:
“Imagine yourself as a stretchy bungi cord.”           

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Yoga means addition - addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul.”
― Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Terminology Tuesday Raccourci



Terminology Tuesday Raccourci

The French term raccourci  means “shortcut” and in ballet the step called battement raccourci means, not surprisingly, battement shortened. It is a term of the French school and is the same step as battement retiré.

Battement retiré is described as follows in Gail Grant’s book:
“[ bat-MAHN ruh-tee-RAY ]. Battement withdrawn or
shortened. A term of the French School and the Cecchetti method. From the
fifth position the working foot is lifted so that the toe is touching the hollow at
the back of the knee of the supporting leg, and the thigh raised to the second
position en Fair. With a staccato movement the foot is raised and lowered,
alternating in the fifth position front and back, the accent being on the
downward movement. This is a very useful exercise for warming up and is
especially useful as a preparation for développés, helping to lift the thigh well
up and to turn out.”

Now you know!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #30d:
Battement raccourci means battement shortened.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“One bulb at a time. There was no other way to do it. No shortcuts--simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded. Loving an achievement that grew slowly and bloomed for only three weeks each year.”
― Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards, The Daffodill Principle

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Mad Monday Control Zone à la Seconde



Mad Monday Control Zone à la Seconde

I’ve talked about dancer’s control zone before, http://balletwebb.blogspot.com/search?q=control+zone
and it becomes especially important during turning steps, and à la seconde turns are a case in point.

Since the direction and momentum of the turn presses on the leg in second, effectively pushing it back, there is a tendency for the leg to move out of the correct position and go beyond the dancer’s control zone (behind their side seam). Needless to say, this ruins the turn. Sigh.

Therefore, always maintain the correct, control zone position of the leg and body during these turns (and other turns, most notably fouettés). Sometimes correcting a too-far-back leg is all it takes to improve the turns.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #14yy:
“Keep the working leg in your control zone during à la seconde turns.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Consistency is the belt that fastens excellence in position. If you don't do it repeatedly, you'll not excel in it.”
― Israelmore Ayivor, Let's Go to the Next Level

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Forest Bathing



Sunday Forest Bathing

The Japanese follow a practice called shinrin-yoku, which means forest–bath. It doesn’t involve grueling hikes or aerobic exercise, instead, it means taking in the forest through our senses. It involves the simple practice of being in nature. And it  doesn’t have to be in a literal forest. It can be a local park or any place that has trees and birds, etc. It could be your own backyard.

It involves leaving your phone and other electronics behind (gasp!) and walking or sitting wherever your body takes you. You are focusing on the sounds, smells and sights of nature. Use your five senses. Relax.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing this – just fifteen minutes will do. And recent studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/)
have confirmed that the practice of shinrin-yoku has real health benefits.

Try it. Take a bath in the forest (or your backyard).

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Motivational Secret #141:
“Try the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku.

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Superstition Mirror



Saturday Superstition Mirror

Most people are aware of the superstition that states that if you break a mirror it brings seven years of bad luck. Seems like a steep price to pay, doesn’t it?

It is thought that this stems from a time when people believed that a person’s soul is seen in their reflection, so if the mirror breaks, so does the soul. Hmmm. It is also said that to reverse this, the broken pieces of the mirror should be picked up and cast into a river flowing south.

Some superstitions say that if the mirror breaks into small pieces the bad luck will be minor, but beware a mirror that breaks into large pieces!

There is also the idea that mirrors held the key to the future, and so if one is broken, so is one’s future. In Roman times, a “mirror-seer” predicted the future by gazing into water, and later, into a mirror. This practice was called catoptomancy.

Just some things to think about during your next ballet class when you look in the mirror!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #132:
“Breaking a mirror is said to cause a breaking of one’s soul.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Mirrors,' she said, 'are never to be trusted.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Fun Friday Wide Brim



Fun Friday Wide Brim

Remember those huge, foam cowboy hats where the brim extends way out all around? This image can help with a common problem: arms that come too close to the body and face when the port de bras moves from low to fifth en haut (high fifth).

You know what I mean. It’s when it appears that the dancer is taking off a tee shirt instead of doing a lovely port de bras. Scary. The arms always move through the established “roadways” (see previous blogs) and never drive off the road.

So imagine wearing one of those giant foam cowboy hats and make sure that your hands and arms are far enough away from your head and upper body so they don’t touch any part of the big hat.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Secret #6iii:
“Imagine wearing a giant foam hat and bring your arms up without touching it.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
 "Take off your hat," the King said to the Hatter.

"It isn't mine," said the Hatter.
"Stolen!" the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
"I keep them to sell," the Hatter added as an explanation; "I've none of my own. I'm a hatter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Throwback Thursday and Joe Bennett




Throwback Thursday and Joe Bennett

Born in 1889, Joe Bennett was an American eccentric dancer. He was said to have legs of iron, but had only a few routines. The tap dancer Harland Dixon who staged the dances for the 1937 movie Something to Sing About  said he was “the greatest comedy dancer I ever saw”. Wikipedia defines eccentric dance as: unconventional and individualistic. It developed as a genre in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a result of the influence of African and exotic dancers.” 

A listing on https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0071835/ says Joe Bennett was born in Charleston South Carolina on April 27, 1888 as Joseph Bennett Aldert and that he was known as an actor (Something to Sing About in 1937). Joe Bennett is listed in the movie credits as one of the dancers in the “Deck Number” seen at 39:36 in today’s Link of the Day.

Joe Bennett died on August 31, 1967 at Our Lady of Consolation in Amityville, New York. He was 78 years old.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #131:
“Joe Bennett was a vaudevillian eccentric dancer.”

Link of the Day:
(James Cagney solo at 4:01)

Quote of the Day:
“People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

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