public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:12 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 8:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 31
I was thinking about finishing a combination. Any insights as to what is proper or appropriate? What about when you have been given a correction? Is it the same feeling as starting a combination properly so you should finish it properly?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 9:02 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Hi Denise. <P>When I teach even my youngest ones, I try to instill a sense of reverence about their dancing so that there is a definite start and finish. This is actually not difficult with very young ones, particularly if I allow them a few moments to "get their wiggles out."<P>Somewhere in their pre-teen years, however, this becomes a little more difficult to keep in check. At that point, they often think the purpose of the introductory counts is to allow them to examine their faces closely in the mirror and check for imaginary zits or whatever. "Just how fascinating can a person's face be?" I sometimes query in mock-exasperation. <P>Regarding adults, I believe that even neophytes can look elegant and confident if they learn from the start to make everything "clean." This includes a definite start and finish to each combination, consisting of epaulement and port de bras. Sometimes the introduction will also include a tendu in preparation for closing on the "one" or placing the foot in a flexed position to begin frappes, etc. <P>My feeling is that adults have so many obligations and worries that their dancing is THEIR time. They should therefore be mindful of treating every moment with respect.<P>In terms of how this applies, particularly, to the actual exercise, I am of the mind that the music dictates just when to start and finish. Of course, even before the music begins, whether at the barre or center, you should be in fifth position, or B-plus, or whatever the position is that will take you into your first step. If you don't know what the movement is because the teacher has not yet set the combination, you should still be standing quietly in a fifth position, vertical spine, long neck, open eyes, arms held, waiting with anticipation for the demonstration. I promise you that if you do this each and every time, a GOOD teacher will take notice and give you plenty of attention and corrections. <P>Again, when the music begins, do your introductory movements with as much importance as the combination itself. This is your way of introducing yourself to the audience and saying, "Hello there, look at me, I've got something wonderful to show you." If you are unsure about these movements, ask your teacher at the break in between barre and center or after class.<P>It seems that it is even more difficult to get people to finish the combination. As long as you hear one note still playing, your body should still be moving -- it may be just adjusting the length of time you take to bring your arms and hands down (or up, or to the side) for their final resting position. <P>Next time you take class, watch to see how many people have already turned around in class, waiting to do the other side, when they should actually be finishing the first side and then holding that position. Even if the teacher isn't watching, dancers should take care to do this each time. It's all part of the dance, and is good practice for preparing for the stage. You wouldn't just walk off the stage after finishing a dance, so the same care should be taken in the classroom.<BR>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 11:39 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Denise - the simplest combination is not just a simple combination it is a dance from start to finsih. It gets all the attention and polish that you would give it on the stage. <P>The introduction in the music is in fact the introduction to the dance, and the dance doesn't end until the music is over. And, then you give the curtain time to fall. <P> This is very valuable training. Three of the hardest things to learn in the ballet is standing still, walking, and running. I am going to take the immense liberty of inserting here a <B>true story</B> that I wrote about someone I knew who could have been a very great dancer except - well...here, I will let you read it..........<P>THE WHIPPERSNAPPER<P>The first time I saw Jeff in ballet class I knew he was a phenomenon. He came into the studio quietly with a pleasant smile on his face and without fanfare found a space for himself at the barre. Though his demeanor was restrained, his natural gifts immediately screamed out at all of us in the room.<P>It was a professional level class and everyone’s attention was riveted on this newcomer. For the women a new man in our midst represented the possibility of a dance partner, for the men perhaps a threat. Jeff was both. He had been endowed with every natural asset necessary to a classical ballet dancer. Though only eighteen years old already his handsome masculinity shone from his face and body. The broad shoulders accentuated his slim hips. He was strong but exceptionally supple. Most men, while more powerful than women, are not as loosely jointed as the female dancer normally is. But, Jeff was both strong and flexible. Few men have a ballerina’s beautiful foot with its graceful highly arched instep. However Jeff’s feet had both strength and beauty. His arms, though well muscled, fell into perfectly symmetrical curves, expressive and captivating. Natural musicality made his dancing seem as if the impulse of the music emanated from within him instead of as a response to an outside source. In short, Jeff was a magnificent combination of all the attributes a dancer could ever hope for. In addition he was also bright, quick, pleasant and unassuming.<P>We all tried to be as unobtrusive as possible in observing him but as the class proceeded we were overwhelmed when Jeff’s body effortlessly articulated the many shapes and designs of the ballet. That was the key. Everything he did was without strain, he was born to dance. His jumps rose, soared and lingered in the air above and then descended with feline grace. The connections between his movement was liquid, strong and smooth as an unbroken skein of silk. In allegro the feet glittered with pizzazz and speed, skimming over the floor. The pirouettes were mesmerizing. Jeff’s leg whipped out to initiate the turn and his head snapped to finish. Like a top he spun out the revolutions and then gradually wound down to a miraculous stop. We watched enthralled at the rhythmic syncopation as the leg whipped and the head snapped; whip, snap, whip, snap, whip, snap.<P>I noticed as the class proceeded that occasionally Jeff did not complete a given exercise. Sometimes he would pause to change or adjust a shoe or item of clothing. But a certain amount of hesitancy or nervousness is not at all unusual for a dancer in a new classroom. After the lesson was over and we had a chance to meet this wonderful youngster, we all found him to be a warm, friendly individual. Even the men who might see him as a rival to their status within the dance class, couldn’t help but like Jeff.<P>As the days went on we were even more impressed. The ease with which he executed all phases of the ballet’s requirements was enchanting. I began to notice more and more that Jeff almost never really completed an entire dance sequence. He always found an<BR> excuse or a reason to interrupt his execution of the choreography. Everything was so effortless for him and always had been, that he became frustrated when he was thwarted or challenged in any way. Even the most gifted dancer cannot expect that every result will be perfect. Things will not always go smoothly. On some days the body is not quite as well balanced as on other days, or even the floor or a shoe may be a problem and the dancer must learn to cope and overcome these obstacles. But Jeff could not seem to manage this. He would cuss under his breath and stamp about in frustration instead of searching for a solution to the problem before him. Because he had not learned to deal with frustration his mind did not impose the discipline on his body which every dancer must learn to do. His muscle memory instead learned and remembered to quit at the least difficulty. Sometimes I wanted to shake him and say “how dare you not try?” But, I was not the teacher in that class. To the rest of us, who were used to expending major efforts to make our bodies comply with our demands, persistence was a way of life. The ballet was too easy for Jeff.<P>One day a representative from New York City Ballet came to San Diego to observe our class and immediately spotted Jeff’s glorious gifts. He was auditioned and as a result given an apartment in New York, a stipend and a fully funded scholarship to the School of American Ballet. This is the premier school of the classical dance, one of the finest in the world and the school for the New York City Ballet. Acceptance to this school is a life altering event in any dancer’s life. Jeff had hit the jackpot.<P>Everyone congratulated him and he was thrilled. I was truly happy for him, too, but in my heart I knew he would never make it. After one year in New York Jeff was informed by the board of directors at the ballet school that his scholarship would be extended for one more year but only on a probationary status. He had not worked hard enough. When Jeff told us this on a visit to San Diego he was unfazed about his impending loss. It was all still too easy and he had no concept of how to work, really work at something he wanted. I am not sure he really believed he might actually lose this spectacular opportunity nor did he understand the connection between it and his level of effort. New York City Ballet had put him on probation hoping to awaken him. They were investing in his formidable natural talents, reluctant to give up on him. <P>One year later Jeff was back in San Diego, his scholarship terminated, his hope dashed. I don’t think he ever perceived that his dreams were fully within his grasp and he alone held the key to success. It was an excruciating lesson to see that such overwhelming talent and natural gifts were not enough and still had to be wedded to the discipline of the intellect. The willingness to meet challenges and work relentlessly is the fire that ignites success.<P>Copyright 1999<P><BR>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 5:48 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
denise - i haven't had time to read basheva's story yet, so forgive me if this post doesn't follow on - but i wanted to say what a wonderful answer christina has given you. and just to add to that, that doing what she suggests (and basheva too) about properly FINISHING an exercise, actually builds strength and control in a dancer - it's remarkable that just standing still (in the right way) CAN do it - and it's very hard to get students to believe you and really do it for long enough to feel the effects for themselves - but i promise you it's true. give it a try! Image<P>i am just a little confused as to exactly what you are asking, when you mention how one might respond when given a correction? - what exactly are you asking, there?

_________________
<BR>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 5:52 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
It would seem to me that in regards as to how to respond to a correction is with thanks. That is why you are there - that is why the teacher is there - help you. <P>But the response is not only a verbal thank you - but also a physical one. If it is appropriate at the time, try to immediately try to put the correction into practice. That way you will remember it better and your teacher will see that you understand it. And, appreciate it.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 8:47 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 82
Location: Virginia
Wow Basheva, what an awesome story! I wish I could have seen him dance. Do you know what happened after his scholarship was withdrawn? Did he keep dancing I hope?<BR> Image<BR>-Zoe<BR>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2001 5:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
In my classes I remind the students when coming back from a break especially that we dance the entire dance class. We do the "dance of plies/tendus/frappes/etc." at the barre--each exercise is in fact a small variation and should be treated as such. We present ourselves to the audience and we finish giving the audience a moment to recognize the finish and begin the applause. To not finish any exercise or variation is the same as not really doing it in the first place I feel. It is like preparing a wonderful meal and not serving it your guests or holding back the dessert. Although there are times I want them to do a combination across the floor with reckless abandon until they hit the wall or another dancer as well *S* Additionally, there are times when I want to see some creative process from my students and I ask them to finish the exercise with their own pose, but to show a definite finish.<P>Corrections should be treated as the highest form of compliment in my book--if a teacher takes the time to show you s/he is concerned or interested in your foot, your placement, your ability, your struggle--what more could a dancer want than the correction that a good teacher can give? What I enjoy seeing even more is when there are two students doing something a bit off--I will make a verbal correction to the one who may be "more" off and the other will strive to adjust her body as well--those students almost always get an extra nod, a thank you, a "nice barre" at the end class so they realize I'm seeing them apply my corrections to themselves.<P>As far as a "same feeling" concept for starting vs. finishing a combination I believe it is two completely different concepts. Again--back to that wonderful gourmet meal you prepared--you present it to your guests not knowing if they will like it--as they begin to respond you have the chance to be proud of your hard work and the knowledge that you have given them something special. When you begin a combination you are saying with your body "look at me--I have something to show you" --you don't know how it will turn out, if you will lose a turn or be off a count--but you want their attention.<BR>When you are finished your combination your body should now say "did you enjoy that? wasn't my pirouette fabulous?"--at the end you know precisely how well you executed the exercise and your body "knows" as well--you will be carrying yourself in a different manner at the end of an exercise when you can have that sigh of relief or smile of triumph. The audience should see a difference in the carriage of the body at this point I believe--sometimes it is completely unconscious--but it is a different feeling.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2001 6:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Very interesing Jan...there is a different feeling - nuance - between the beginning of the presentation and the ending with its intonation of "a job well done". And, you are also right - that too many dancers/students separate the barre work from the dancing in the center, when in fact they are two parts of an entire whole - both a dance.<P>Zoe - I am glad you liked the story. Yes, Jeff did continue to dance - but without a plan, really. As far as I know he never made it into a company. It was a real waste of talent. <P>Different teachers have differnt ways of correcting. I had one who would only correct in a general way. He never directed a personal correction at anyone. This had some advantages and I also think, many disadvantages. If one person did something wrong then a correction was given to the entire class without that person's name being mentioned or even that the correction was only aimed at one person. And, since there was almost always someone doing something wrong, it seemed like none of us were ever doing anything right. It gave the class a kind of perpertual "down" feeling.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2001 3:54 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
i wonder is denise still there? it seemed to me she was asking something about corrections specifically <I>in relation to</I> how one begins and ends exercises.....but perhaps she was just presenting two different topics? denise, can you clarify what you were asking in that regard, since the business orf responding to corections in general, opens up a whole new topic, which we might be better to do in another thread, IF that's what you wanted?<P>jan, i think your post is wonderful! thanks! Image

_________________
<BR>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2001 4:46 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 31
Wow!!I am overwhelmed by all the great info on finishing combinations and 'treating each exercise as a variation' .. I am at a loss for words! I have to print this out so I can have it to refer back to!<P>regarding my question on receiving a correction. what I was trying to say is, since I have so much trouble finishing a combination, when I get a correction and then try to impliment it (right when I get it) I can't seem to gracefully complete it. hhmmmmm now that I think more about my 'question' I guess it really isn't a question but more of something I just have to do. (sorry I know I am not making alot of sense)<P>to change the subject, Basheva mentioned that the 'hardest things to learn in ballet is standing still, walking and running'. any insights on running so one doesn't look like a track star or a line backer for a football team?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2001 6:00 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, Denise - Galina Ulanova (Prima Ballerina Assoluta, Bolshoi Ballet) gave it quite a bit of thought, especially for her role as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. There was a part where she had to put on her cloak and run to the priest for advice.<P> She practiced that run more than anything in the ballet. What she arrived at, that helped to solve the problem, was that you have to look like you are running "TO" something - not just running.<P>If you visualize that - it does affect how the run looks. Also, when done within the parameters of ballet - as the feet thrust out in front the toes are pointed - and thrusting out - seeking the ground before them - is a good image for what the feet do. <P>It is also done lightly, not as full footed as a normal run is done (by normal people LOL). The foot contacts the floor only to swiftly leave it again - thrusting forward. It is done with as little heel strike as possible. <P>When Margot Fonteyn ( Prima Ballerina Assoluta, Royal Ballet) was going to do Juliet, she studied Ulanova's run - and arrived at the same conclusion - you have to look like you are running to something. The run is done more chest up - going somewhere.<P>There is another run - and that would be "running away" from something. I have not seen that discussed anywhere, but I imagine it would be less of a chest leading run - more of a concave feeling. <P>It would be interesting to hear how our modern dancers perceive it.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2001 6:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Denise - about your comment concerning gracefully trying to incorporate the correction that a teacher has given you......<P>A good teacher can tell when you are endeavoring to incorporate the correction but have not as yet succeeded and will give you credit for trying. Not all corrections can be internalized right away. I remember one that took me years to understand.<P>So be patient with yourself - as long as you understand the correction (ask the teacher for further explanation if you don't) and try it. That's what counts.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2001 12:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
We spent some extra time on those little runs in this morning's class. The teacher demonstrated running in the direction of the arm held en avant and making sure to look well over the arm, not on the floor. He then demonstrated what he often sees done -- students running while looking down at the floor like they're searching for quarters. He also emphasizes keeping the feet in a natural position. Turning out for those quick little steps looks like a duck waddling.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2001 2:53 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
I believe I described in an earlier thread what happened to us one day in class concerning "looking down".......<P>The teacher stopped the class (this was a professional level class) and made us all walk around for quite some time - just looking down - he wouldn't let us look up ...<P>And then he explained - "now that you have all spent some time looking down you can see there is nothing there but dirt and chewing gum (not really) - so don't look down again".<P>I used to tell my students "if you can see your feet - guess what? - you are looking down".<P>I would think it would be part of the idea of "running to something" wouldn't it? - to not look down.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: finishing a combination
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2001 1:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
I think that your teacher's solution would actually make quite an interesting piece of choreography. I had a very graphic image of this when I read your post.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group