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 Post subject: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2000 6:54 pm 
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tuk's great article, and the discussion which ensued, touched off lots of thoughts on this subject. people came at the subject from different angles, which i found valuable.<P>moving on from that, i would like to start a thread on the actual teaching of pointe - in it's BEGINNING stages.<P>can we restrict this discussion to, say, the first term of pointe, or the first 3 months, or better yet: starting at the absolute beginning? that way we can narrow the focus to be all really talking about the same things, not too many different ones... <P>i am happy to leave to tuk -for his next article, i hope - descriptions of placement and nitty gritty and detail - what i am geting at here is actual exercises which are valuable in the ballet class.<P>can we also aim for some SHORT POSTS? i am feeling a bit intimidated by the length and campaigning posture of some writers in other threads. so i think it's fair to assume that others may be, too? it stifles discussion, and that's a regrettable result....<P>i'll kick this off with two things.<P>one is the 'stepping up onto pointe in parallel' which barbara fewster uses in her 'Pointe by Point' instructional videotape (very good, especially for young teachers insecure about beginning to teach pointe).<P>as the name suggests, the student faces the barre in parallel, and lifts the feet, one at a time, onto pointe in parallel, remaining for a second on both pointes (i use this to tell them NOT to 'rest' there, but to check/adjust/re-assess posture and/or pull up even more.)<P>then roll down through the feet to flat. may be repeated or combined with demi-plié in parallel in-between. may also then be done in 1st, but i find it most useful in parallel, because there are less different sensations to concentrate on, with parallel being a somewhat more natural position for a human. (mind you, it's surprising how often you have to actually 'teach' awareness of what's parallel - it's not just LESS turnout!)<P>the second suggestion i have would of course come much later, insmuch as it requires leaving the barre. i pinched this from bek last week! she talked about having students walk across the room, maybe en diagonale, presumably with a fairly natural degree of rotation (not parallel, not fully turned-out). if it was me, of course i'd start with one crossing of the room -i'm not sure what bek does. maybe she'll tellus again. but what i DID like was her rule that if the student was not strong enough to stay up en pointe, they simply were not allowed to continue to work en pointe for that session.<P>i think this would work, not just as an incentive/motivating factor, but also in the truest sense that if the student cannot maintain that strength, they are far better to come off pointe and do other strengthening work - perhaps continuing in the class doing everything on demi-pointe (whether in pointe or soft shoes).<P>so there's my tuppence worth, and i've probably broken my 'short post' rule already!<P>good luck seeing if you can be briefer than me! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 6:13 pm 
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We always did slow Rises in First and Second positions when we began Point Work. I think the Russians approach it differently though?


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 6:19 pm 
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angelica, thanks for that post which hits an important point straight away!<P>i also was taught to roll up through the feet, and to roll down through the feet - and i still favour this approach.<P>however, when i was teaching in a strictly vaganova-based program, we were instructed to teach spring relevés, rather than pushing up through the feet.<P>i say 'spring relevés', making up my own little term there (!), to get across the idea that they were small springs, not an emphatic demi-plié/relevé such as one might later use for échappés.<P>btw, if anybody cares to contribute to any of the pointe work threads (where words with acute accents seem to come up a lot), you get an acute accent over an 'e' by holding down the 'Alt' key and pressing 1, then 3, then 0 on your NUMBER keypad (on the right). (you don't have to type the 'e' at all.)

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2000 1:41 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
The one thing that all my current students always say they are surprised about with pointe work is the amount of stamina it requires, particularly to begin with and that is another good reason why a short time to begin with with pointe work is a good idea.<P>They also find quickly when moving onto pointe work in the centre how much good upper body posture is needed to enable them to feel stable on pointe. I thought I would share this as we often talk about pointe only in relation to the feet, ankles and legs but some stamina training and work on upper body posture is probably beneficial before commencing pointe. Obvioulsy we would hope that was there from ballet training but it does no harm to reinforce it.<P>As for releves we normally start with the the rolling up and down method and then the spring releves Grace described simple because I feel the roll ones give the student a chance to see and feel the different stages of how we get up and down from en pointe.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2000 2:45 pm 
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thanks joanne. <P>at least 2 good points there: spending only a short time in the shoes, to begin with (even the shoes feel 'wierd', never mind going up onto your toes!), and the requirement to be able to exert firm control over placement. well said.<P>i actually found point work fun, and freeing - some things were easier for me en pointe, than on demi-pointe. i have legs that were difficult to fully stretch/straighten, and the leg position on pointe enabled a full stretch - thus pointe helped me to feel more pulled up, and more powerful in movement. i loved it.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2000 3:09 pm 
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anyone know anything about how balanchine-influenced schools teach pointe?<P>someone has suggested to me that it may be like the russian approach - avoiding the 'roll-thru' action in favour of the 'spring' as the basic movement....?<P>wish i had that schorer book!

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2000 6:01 pm 
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Location: London
I wish that I had that book too!!<P>I studied with a couple of ex NYCB dancers. The pointe classes favoured the sprung action on to pointe rather than the roll thru.<P>I do remember lots of repetition in rises and releves - say 32 in first, 32 in ritere and then 32 in arabesque. The knees also released before the heels came back to the floor.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2000 7:26 pm 
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twiglet: great! don't go away before we get some more information out of you! Image<P>when you studied with those teachers, were you a pointe beginner or not?<P>did you EVER use the roll-thru action consciously, as part of a set exercise at the barre, such as in a warm-up? i.e. were you asked to?<P>presumable you DID learn this action at some stage before or after...was it 'before'? or after!? Image <P>thanks for your contribution.

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2000 4:47 am 
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I am glad Joanne brought up the point about having a strong center, or core. It is apparent that strength needs to be developed in the feet, ankles, lower leg, (Tuk pointed that out, and I posted to it, but it got lost.)etc. <P>Core strength is absolutely necessary for everyone, and crucial to those dancers exhibiting hyperextension and their legs, and a tendency to loose ligaments. Again, I have to mention the therapeutic training of these dancers in pilates. Dancers with hyperextension need specific attention to their problem, because their bodies will tend to respond somewhat differently to some of the teaching cues that are given. Additionally, they may need to make certain placement compromises or adjustments, depending on where the majority of difficulty of control lies.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2000 1:10 pm 
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<P>I was in my second year of college when I studied with those teachers. The rest of my ballet training was with English teachers and so although I was probably of an intermediate standard I found that the change in approach needed a great deal of strength and stamina.<P>When I was learning pointe I learnt to roll thru and release the knees after the heels had contacted the floor. With the American teachers we usually started with slow rises which encouraged the use of the whole shoe. Throughout the rises we did not release the knees. I am not sure whether this was our teachers preference or it derived from the Balanchinian approach. I only studied with these teachers for one year and then I more or less stopped doing pointe!!<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2000 3:21 pm 
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thanks twiglet. Image i'm beginning to think your background might deserve a thread of it's own! i assume you are an american, studying in london presently?<P>maggie, might i ask: do YOU have hyperextened legs? it sounds like you might have an empathetic understanding of that problem. (i don't have them.)

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2000 10:00 pm 
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I am English, although I have lived in lots of places!<P>I trained in the UK and the US, worked in the UK and I am now living in the US. I have been, at various times and sometimes simultaneously, a dancer, a teacher and an administrator!<P>I love travelling!!


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2000 5:35 am 
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Grace, I do not have hyper-extended legs, I've only worked with a lot of dancers that do.<BR>After my knee injury, I developed some compensatory (unconsciously, at first) ways of working on pointe. While continuing to work on correct technique, I had to "learn" to protect a knee that would never be the same, meaning, being aware of how my body compensated, and what part of that to continue doing without allowing overcompensating to create other problems. My feet and ankles became very strong and actually took over, by necessity, some of the work that other areas were used to handling. I certainly understood the fact that all the muscles that support the knee needed to rehab, and maintain strength and balance.It didn't change the fact that the joint was irreparably damaged. This is my personal experience. Other peoples' knee injuries are personal to them in how they affect their structure, and how they heal. Additionally, knee repair has come a long way since my first injury.<p>[This message has been edited by Maggie (edited September 18, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2000 2:57 pm 
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getting back to the pointe teaching area, i think there is a lot of value in doing some non-pointe exercises in pointe shoes -as much as the students understandably hate it!- and the yoga pose which tuk describes in his article is marvellous , whether in pointe shoes or not.<P>i've been using it for the last few weeks in my classes, tuk, and what's even better about it is: the kids find it a FUN challenge! and it's something they can practice at home.

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching Pointe
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2000 4:09 am 
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I suppose you all use the usual things such as releves in all the foot positions, echappes with and without changing 5th's, and releves to retire positions. On some other sites I have seen the word eleves and i am not sure what that is? Do you know?


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