Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Trio of Tips for Thursday!

Not one but 3! No matter what level you are, I have a helpful dance tip for you!

1. Beginner:

Promenade - one of the biggest errors I see in students attempting promenade (which is a series of small heel lifts to turn in place and can be executed in arabesque, attitude, retire, etc.) is that they begin the movement with their hips, knees or shoulders. 

The very first thing you do to begin a promenade is to lift the heel. There should be no weight at the back of the foot during promenade or else you will find yourself rocking back and forth and eventually falling off your leg. Unless otherwise choreographed, you should keep a very straight support leg with knees pulled up by your quads and hamstrings. As you turn in place, do not allow the support leg to bend or the knee to go soft. Maintain the position you are turning in by lifting and lowering the heel by about 1/4" or 1/2" but not usually more than that.

2. Intermediate:

Pirouette arms - in my ongoing quest to dissect and diagnose pirouettes and to offer guidance to students who struggle, I would have to say the #1 problem I see is the arms are not held in front of the body for the entire turn. Whatever position you are taught (a classic first position, a higher first position, a portrait style low first position, crossed arms, etc.) you must keep them in front of you until you finish the turn and roll down.

Pirouette anxiety, whether you are working flat or en pointe, usually causes us to pull back with our upper body. We fear falling which often makes us collapse in our centers. Our shoulders slump or roll and our arms droop or get left behind during the turn. Some of us fling our arms open to second long before the turn is completed.

Instead, try to bring the arms very quickly to your first position as you push up to releve and hold them there! Don't let them open or drop until you have completed the turn and can see yourself in the mirror in retire before you open the arms and roll down. I can virtually guarantee you that your turns will improve if you do this.

3: Advanced:

Finishing the lines - some of the most beautiful things in ballet are the lines that are created on stage. For example, an arabesque does not need to be higher than ninety degrees to be gorgeous but it does need to be finished. Same with arms: they may swirl and swish through the air but when they are posed, they must be finished with fingers extended and elbows lifted. How many times have you been in the audience and gasped at the stunning lines of professional ballerinas? They know how to get very last inch out of their legs and arms.

You can too! But you must focus on arching the top and bottom of your foot, reaching through your back to the palms and fingers of your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and holding a strong core. When you practice these things at the barre (rather than simply flinging your arms and feet away from you), you will have beautiful lines in the center. Your movements will be complete and you will avoid that weird strobe effect that you see on stage. If you are in the corps, you absolutely must finish your lines or you will look out of sync with the other dancers.

Hope these tips help you! Happy dancing~

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