Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Always moving UP!

Hello beautiful dancers!

As I've mentioned in the past, lots of people (instructors included) want ballet to be a list of do's and don'ts, always and nevers, and for many things, we can accommodate that. For instance, a battement tendu always stretches to a point, you never sickle your foot, and so on. These are basics we can all agree on.

Depending on the school where you study, however, the foot might wrap in battement frappe or it might flex. The working leg might developpe during the execution of a fondu developpe or it might go through an attitude. New dancers are understandably confused when they take classes with teachers who don't allow for other styles of ballet.

That's why I share the "always" whenever I can. So here's an always:

Begin every action with an UP.

No matter what you do, start with UP.

Plie? Lift up in your torso before you descend.

Tendu? Lift up in your core and standing leg before you release the gesture leg.

Jumping? Turning? That's right - lift your center, take a breath - feel the up before you go down.

But why? you ask. Why wouldn't I concentrate on down if I'm about to move across the floor?

Many reasons, but the simplest is this: by lifting up, you engage your upper body and core muscles which makes you lighter and propels you across the floor faster and more smoothly. For a pirouette, focusing on the down means you're already falling out of the turn; by thinking UP, by breathing, by lifting, you're giving yourself a head start on staying up en releve. And we all know (or we can guess) what happens when dancers en pointe don't engage their core muscles: their ankles and feet do all the work.

When you watch a dancer with lovely port de bras, take a look at what she or he is doing with their arms. More likely than not, they are lifting up first with a breath under their arms (space for their pamplemousses!) before they start to move.

Next time you're in class, try to begin everything you do with the UP. You'll find that exercises are a lot easier and that you feel lighter throughout the class. I think you'll also discover you have more height in your jumps, more expression in your epaulement, and an easier time with turns.

Happy dancing - UP!

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