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Today I Learned #2: Be A Fastback

Pinto-Runabout

Just maybe not a Pinto. Explosive gas isn’t a good look. (Via Wikimedia Commons, by Joost J. Bakker from IJmuiden (Ford Pinto runaboutUploaded by Oxyman) [CC BY 2.0])

How do you power your turns?

If you said, “By winding up my arms and then flinging them,” erm … really, that’s an entirely different post. I mean, I’m not sure how to break this to you, but, like…

…I mean, that might be a thing in some kinds of modern, but really, you don’t need to do that in ballet, and your teacher will yell at you a lot less if you stop.

Moving right along!

If you answered, “By turning,” you’re probably someone like me, who is much better at doing physical things than at thinking about physical things (and, like me, you might be prone to the Centipede’s Dilemma). I mean … like, to be entirely honest, if you’d asked me  a while back how I power my turns, I would’ve A] done some kind of turn in an attempt to figure it out, then B] shrugged and said, “Honestly, I have no idea.”

I have since had the opportunity[1] to discuss this in class several times, and have realized that there are several factors involved, one of which is my shoulder and back.

  1. Which is to say, been forced on pain of receiving The Look…

I mean, think about it. How do you a fouetté[2]? You basically flip your back around. First it’s on one side; then it’s on the other side. Your legs just, like, basically stay where they are, though the free leg has to turn over. Neato[3]!

  1. Not the en tournant/Black Swan kind. Just the, “Your toe is a key; stick it in the lock and turn it without actually doing a flip” kind.
  2. Sauté fouetté uses the same mechanics, btw. Ideally, your free leg should maintain a steady altitude, which looks pretty dazzling when done correctly.

 

The video above isn’t the best possible example, since you don’t even remotely need to be on pointe to do this and the mechanics allow you to start from a static balance (which would make for a much clearer video), but it gets the basic point across.  TBH, though, I searched for like 30 whole seconds and all the other videos I turned up were for fouetté en tournant. 

Obviously, it’s a given that flipping your back around is going to happen in any turn.

The funny thing, though, is that many of us never really bother to think about it. We get as far as holding our bodies together and then just … let physics take care of things, I guess?

Anyway, Mr. Reuille pointed out today (or was it yesterday?) that you have to bring your back around, and more the point, you have to imagine bringing it around faster for every single rotation within any given turn. So if you’re doing a triple, you’re not thinking, “One … two … three…” so much as, “One … two,three!”

In ballet turns, the back, shoulder, and hip travel together. (This isn’t always the case in modern turns, precisely—if you’re turning and spiraling at the same time, for example, the principle continues to operate along similar lines, but it feels very different.)

They carry the momentum of the turn—if you think about it, there’s a whole lot of mass there.

In an en dehors turn, the inside of the standing leg actively resists that momentum: otherwise, the free knee will happily collapse in towards the center, and you’ll wind up with one of those parallel jazz turns.

Which … I mean. They’re great, but they’re not ballet.

 

 

fosse-fosse-fosse

What? You thought there wouldn’t be a meme for that? Of *course* there’s a meme for that!

In an en dedans turn, the inside of the standing leg goes with the momentum, so the free leg resists against it. This is, I realize, another reason I’m better at en dedans turns than en dehors turns. The adduction is not so strong with this one. I’m working on it, okay?

Anyway, in either case, if you think about bringing the shoulder-hip complex around ahead of your spot, you might find that you get more and better turns.

Predictably, I do this well at some times and horribly, terribly, or not at all at other times. This[4] is another part of the reason that my turns are so bleeding inconsistent.

  1. …Combined with my bizarre back-leaning posture, wacko spot, and apparently counter-evolutionary preference for falling backwards rather than forwards … is this possibly a People Who Wear Glasses Thing, or is this just me???

At any rate, I ended class only owing Mr. Reuille 5 push-ups (for hopping out of a turn), which he kindly did not collect, and in the midst of receiving a correction did a very nice fouetté from first arabesque to attitude devant that resulted in a dead stable balance. And that owed largely to just bringing my ding-dang-darn back around faster.

So, like, there’s hope for even the worst parts of my ballet technique, I guess.

Anyway, if you’re having issues with turns that wobble or wander or just don’t have enough moxie, and you’re not sure where to find more chutzpah (did you know that chutzpah can be translated as “audacity?”), maybe you could try starting with this thing and see if it helps. Assuming, of course, that A] you’re snapping your free leg to a turned-out passé and B] you’re not leaning back like certain idiots who write blogs about ballet on the innertubes.

Merde, and let me know if it works out.

 

 

Monday Madness

I didn’t do Modern T’s class this morning because I had a scheduling conflict, so I went to M. BeastMode’s evening class today.

We were all just coming back from Spring Break, so M. BeastMode went easy-ish on us (which meant class was pretty relaxed, for me; M. BeastMode’s class at its hardest is still only about half as physically grueling as Ms. B’s Killer Class).

Barre was great. Everything went beautifully at barre. I worked on the let it happen principle, and suddenly my fondues, developpés, and grand battements were beautiful, high (or, as required, low and elastic), and really effortless.

Ditto turns, as a general rule. Fine and effortless, mostly. Turns from fifth are back; turns from fourth are trending towards reliable doubles again.

We did a quarter turn-half turn-full turn combo that was perfectly intuitive as long as you didn’t think, but went straight to Helena Handbasket (good ol’ Ms. Handbasket, heh) if you second-guessed yourself or started thinking. Mostly, though, I acquitted myself beautifully doing turns.

Ditto across the floor, at first. We did a cool combination that I am now nearly unable to remember, but it was set to a tango, and the goal was to focus on economy of movement. Since this is a thing I’m working on anyway, that was great.

Then we did another thing across-the-floor, and it just … I don’t know. There was a renversé. I love renversé, and I can do it quite well, and did beautiful renversés while marking the combination … and then, for some reason, when actually dancing it, my body kept insisting that the step in question should be fouetté, even though there was no fouetté in the combination.

Bleh.

I didn’t work that part out until after class, though. I just knew that something cray kept happening to my beautiful renversé moment.

This is what happens when I don’t go first and don’t mark all the way through the combo while the first group (or, in this case, groups) are going because I’m afraid of kicking somebody or getting in the way.

So, um, yeah. I shall work on that. It is getting a heck of a lot easier to pick up combinations, though (honestly, picking up almost any ballet combo seems like a breeze after a complex modern combo — not because modern is harder, but because ballet is my “first language”).

After, I ordered most of the remaining parts for our trapeze costumes (which should double for ballet stuff, later; it looks like things might be shaping up in terms of getting an adult students’ performing group together, but more on that later, as I don’t want to screw it up by speaking too soon).

Likewise, it would seem that I now have a choral performance iron in the fire for next year, which is great — not something that will require a year-long commitment, but something I’ll enjoy immensely.

So that was Monday. I’m super tired, so I’m off to bed.

G’night, everybody.

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