Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Two Tips for Tuesday!

Good morning, beautiful dancers! On this stunning 75 degree day, I'm feeling energized and ready to tackle technique!

Let's talk about 5th position and pirouettes, but not together. Ha!

First of all, you're bouncing out of your 5th. I can't even see you but I know you are doing this, especially at the barre. Your fifth is a position of strength: it's where we start and end so many steps and it's where we form the base for jumps and turns. If you don't have a strong 5th position, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Sounds harsh, I know, but I want you to be aware of 5th as a home base and one you can rely on.

From the very first tendu exercises, take a split second to hold the fifth when you return the gesture leg to the start position and feel the legs squeeze together at the top of the thighs. This will help build strength and speed for petit allegro work later in the center and it will also build stability for developpe, etc. during adagio in the center.

Try to avoid "bouncing" out of the position, that is, swishing through it without actually finding 5th.

Second tip: imagine yourself pirouetting with an invisible partner. For ladies en pointe who have partnered before, you can imagine when a gentleman is standing behind you, you don't want to fall backward into him. You want to keep your hips and back and knees completely straight but your arms and rib cage slightly forward so he has room to assist you on a turn.

Now, even if you have never been partnered before and regardless of your gender, you can picture yourself being partnered by an invisible partner. That person is behind you so you don't want to collapse underneath yourself and fall into them. You want to stay completely held and strong in your core but also lift and lean slightly forward so your arms are balancing out your backside.

Courtesy Charles Askegard

Trust me, 99% of the time, we fall backward out of a turn, not forward. We are very rarely ever too far forward on our leg. It's in fact the opposite - we can't get OVER our legs enough or our knees buckle or soften and we collapse or our heels drop, etc.

And here's a favorite video of mine, from the inimitable Lisa Howell who is based in Australia, unfortunately, so I can't get to get to her workshops but I try to learn as much from her as I can through her online presence. She and I share the same philosophy about ballet and she approaches the biomechanics in the same way I do, although she focuses on kids and teens and I focus on adults.

This video is Lisa discussing how to perform a perfect tendu. I teach this and emphasize the same 3 things she does (core, standing leg turnout and foot articulation) in the same ways but she breaks it down very clearly and has a lovely young demonstrator. Enjoy (and thank you, Lisa!):

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