Last night I thought of 3 random tips I wanted to share with you. None of them warrants a full blog post but together they make 1! In no particular order:
1. Balance Tip: some of us live in earthquake country so we know what construction companies do to bolt down houses to their foundations to help make them resistant to the shaking of earthquakes. You know what also shakes? Your balance when you are en releve. If you find yourself unable to hold a balance, especially in first or second, you're probably not engaging your deep external rotator muscles (they are the very small muscles that rotate your thigh bone in its socket to create turnout from the top of the legs). They also might not be strong enough to hold your turnout which can also result in shaking or collapsing.
Instead of just thinking about your feet holding you in place, visualize the ball-and-socket joint in your leg as if it were bolting your house (body) to its foundation (floor). Once you can grab onto that and engage those muscles, your legs will feel much more stable and you will feel the energy moving in all directions, not merely your feet and ankles.
2. Pirouette Tip: we can never have enough of these! If you are having trouble with getting over your leg on your turn, if you fall backward or can't seem to keep your arms in front of you as you turn, try thinking of someone tapping the back of your shoulder when you go up into your retire position.
From any preparation, let's say left foot front in 4th position so that you will be turning en dehors to your right, imagine your teacher is about to give you a gentle shove on the left shoulder to get you moving. She would be pushing you just above the scapula. This has the effect of getting you over your leg, giving you another source of momentum and preventing you from lifting your shoulder on the turn. And it works! I tested it on myself. Ha!
3. Jump Tip: one of my biggest pet peeves for allegro work is when students don't roll through their feet on their jump landing, whether for grand or petit. Sometimes they land flat footed which shudders my spine just thinking about it. Other times, even if they think about rolling through a pointed foot, they neglect the ball of the foot so it's not nearly as smooth or connective as it could be.
Think about a 3 point landing with every jump: toe, ball, heel. Always. Toe, ball, heel. Toe, ball, heel. This will make you fondu rather than simply plie and bend the knees. It will be easier to use the demi-plie as you move from one step to the next and it will also be safer for your knees and spine.
Hope these tips help! Happy dancing~