2 3 Ballet Webb: 2020

Friday, February 21, 2020

Fun Friday Belly Button Brick Wall



Fun Friday Belly Button Brick Wall

As I have said before, the arms move in specific highways (see Ballet Secret #6a: The arms move in specific “highways”). At no time (or seldom) do they go off the road. Today’s image is a case in point.

Imagine a brick wall that extends from your belly button forward. It’s as formidable as the Great Wall of China and at no time (or seldom) are your arms allowed to cross this wall.

Even in steps like balancé where it appears the arms are crossing past the Belly Button Brick Wall, they don’t. It is an illusion created by the turning of the torso.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #6www:
“Imagine a belly button brick wall.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
― Joseph Fort Newton

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Throwback Thursday Montgomery and Stone


Throwback Thursday Montgomery and Stone

David Craig Montgomery was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on March 21, 1870. Fred Andrew Stone was born on August 19, 1873.

Montgomery began dancing in his backyard and taught himself to become a dancer and a contortionist. He began performing locally and went on to work in Denver where he met Fred Stone. Fred was an acrobat and tightrope walker.

Together they formed a team that lasted for 22 years. They performed in various touring vaudeville companies, ending up on Broadway in 1901 in The Girl From Up There.  But their big break came when they were cast  in The Wizard of Oz as The Scarecrow (Stone) and Tin Man (Montgomery). The show ran in New York for a year, then toured the country, making both men stars. They performed in this show until 1905.

They went on to perform in The Red Mill (1906) and the Winthrop Moving Picture Company made short films of their routines from this show in 1907. They continued to perform in various shows and a reviewer wrote: “The names of David C. Montgomery and Fred A. Stone have been inseparably linked with fun and frolic ever since years ago they forsook vaudeville to enter the musical comedy field…”

David Montgomery died suddenly in Chicago on April 20, 1917. He was only 47 years old. Fred Stone outlived him by many decades, dying on March 6, 1959.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #313:
“David C. Montgomery and David Stone were the original Scarecrow and Tin Man.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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David Craig Montgomery was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on March 21, 1870. Fred Andrew Stone was born on August 19, 1873.

Montgomery began dancing in his backyard and taught himself to become a dancer and a contortionist. He began performing locally and went on to work in Denver where he met Fred Stone. Fred was an acrobat and tightrope walker.

Together they formed a team that lasted for 22 years. They performed in various touring vaudeville companies, ending up on Broadway in 1901 in The Girl From Up There.  But their big break came when they were cast  in The Wizard of Oz as The Scarecrow (Stone) and Tin Man (Montgomery). The show ran in New York for a year, then toured the country, making both men stars. They performed in this show until 1905.

They went on to perform in The Red Mill (1906) and the Winthrop Moving Picture Company made short films of their routines from this show in 1907. They continued to perform in various shows and a reviewer wrote: “The names of David C. Montgomery and Fred A. Stone have been inseparably linked with fun and frolic ever since years ago they forsook vaudeville to enter the musical comedy field…”

David Montgomery died suddenly in Chicago on April 20, 1917. He was only 47 years old. Fred Stone outlived him by many decades, dying on March 6, 1959.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Dance History Secret #313:
“David C. Montgomery and David Stone were the original Scarecrow and Tin Man.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wacky Wednesday Cellophane



Wacky Wednesday Cellophane

A common problem with pliés is when the torso doesn’t move straight up and down and instead leans forward, or tilts sideways or in many other ways fails to maintain a straight up and down alignment. Not good.

Imagine doing every plié inside an elevator shaft made of cellophane. If the body leans forward and the derriere sticks out, the cellophane will tear. Instead, imagine moving cleanly up and down this fragile, sheer elevator shaft with no deviation – just like an actual elevator.


From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #16kk:
“Imagine a cellophane elevator shaft.”
Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“It's all like an ocean!" cried Dostoevski. I say it's all like cellophane.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Terminology Tuesday Battement Retiré



Terminology Tuesday Battement Retiré

Both battement and retiré are familiar terms to most dancers. But battement retiré [bat-MAHN ruh-tee-RAY] refers to a different step.

Battement retiré is a term of both the French and Cecchetti schools and Gail Grant in her book Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet https://archive.org/stream/GailGrantBalletDictionary/Gail%20grant%20ballet%20dictionary_djvu.txt gives this description of the step:

“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 l’air. 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.”  (See the Link of the Day below beginning at 2:12)

Ms. Grant goes on to say that this is a useful exercise for warming up and as a preparation for développés.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Terminology Secret #81:
“Battement retiré means battement withdrawn or shortened.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I like good strong words that mean something…”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Mad Monday Sharp Pencil



Mad Monday Sharp Pencil

For those students who have difficulty keeping their focus off the floor, here is a new image.

Imagine a freshly sharpened pencil placed under your chin with the point facing up – just below your chin. Don’t drop your chin or – ouch!

There are other, more bloodthirsty ideas that are similar like using a razor blade instead of a pencil. But I think you get the point J.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #16jj:
“Imagine a sharp pencil under your chin.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“No one has yet tested the pencil
To see how many words it can write”
― Xi Chuan, Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Only





Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Superstitious Saturday Chopsticks



Superstitious Saturday Chopsticks

Last week I talked about the Japanese saying for good luck monku monku monku. Today it’s another Japanese superstition – one I’d never heard of.

Apparently it is bad luck to place your chopsticks straight up – like in a bowl of rice. This looks like the Japanese number 4 which is an unlucky number. In addition sticking chopsticks straight up looks like incense sticks used at funerals. But wait there’s more! Never point your chopsticks at anyone – it’s considered rude and ill-mannered.

So especially if you eat in a Japanese restaurant before a performance, remember these tips.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstitious Secret #194:
“Never stick your chopsticks straight up.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning hand springs or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.”
― Helen Rowland

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Fun Friday Generating



Fun Friday Generating

I write a lot about equal and opposite energy patterns, and how important these are for dance technique. Today I’m going to focus on the spine and how it works for these patterns.

You can imagine the spine as the generating station (energy producing) center of the body. Everything radiates from the spine outward: up/down, side/side, front/back, etc. You can picture the energy that’s being produced as laser beams, rays of light, a mass of shooting stars – whatever works for you. But it must flow outward equally and constantly.

By focusing on the spine, you are more apt to achieve greater results in equal and opposite feelings since it all radiates from the same area.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #16ii:
“Think of the spine as the body’s generating station.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“I know I can depend on books in times of trouble because they have a spine and two wings”
― Ayse Aslihan Koksoy

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Throwback Thursday and Jack Coogan



Throwback Thursday and Jack Coogan

Born on January 21, 1887 in Syracuse, New York, John Henry Coogan is probably best known for being the father of famous child actor, Jackie Coogan. Some of you may know Jackie Coogan not as the child actor but for his role as Uncle Fester on The Adams Family TV show.

Known as “Big Jack” or “Jack Sr.”,  John Henry Coogan began his career in vaudeville and went on to act in such early films as Trouble (1922), Daddy (1923), The Rag Man (1925) and Backstage (see the Link of the Day below). In 1922 he was the production manager and casting director  for Jackie Coogan Productions.

He died on May 4, 1935, when his car left the road at high speed and plunged into a creek. The accident also killed passengers Robert J. Horner, Junior Durkin and Charles Jones, but his son Jackie survived the crash. Jack Coogan is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #312:
"Jack Coogan was the father of famous child actor, Jackie Coogan.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Don't blow off another's candle for it won't make yours shine brighter.”
― Jaachynma N.E. Agu, The Prince and the Pauper

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