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 Post subject: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2000 5:31 pm 
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At one time Balanchine said that he thought tendu was the single most important exercise. when I first heard that I was taken by surprise. However, the more I thought about it - and as my own experience as a dancer and teaher grew, the more I agreed.<P>Do you agree? Why?


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2000 6:17 pm 
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Well Basheva - as an adult who's only in her first year of ballet I understand why tendu is so important - articulating and strengthening the feet, working on alignment and posture, using the whole leg, driving the energy through the floor etc etc - but I have to say that right now I've hit a wall and can't seem to do it without my teacher telling me to work THROUGH the foot harder. Maybe one day I'll understand physically, as well as mentally why it's so vital.<P>Here's hoping, Danni


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2000 8:09 pm 
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Location: BC , Canada
I agree with this, It is "to me" where the student first begins to understand kinetic movement. Although kinetics is a goal to strive for in all movement it is in the tendu where I first see students applying the concept. First through the action of stretching and later through the concept of <BR>quality of movement or if you like presenting the movement.

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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2000 12:36 am 
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What about plie? No plie no pirouette. No plie no jump. No plie no strength in adage.<P>All barre exercises are important.


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2000 7:19 am 
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I believe that Balanchine felt that the tendu is the beginning - that all the other excercises flow from it - degage',rond de jambe, frappe', etc. I think that sometimes because the tendu is so very basic - and appears on the surface to the student to be simple - that it is not given the "weight" it should be given. I used to tell my students that the foot had to be "presented" and to imagine ironing the floor as they extended - using the floor as an isometric exercise.<P>Perhaps, Gavin, we should say that plie' underlies all dance - but that tendu belongs to the ballet..........<P>Danni - if in your first year you have learned this - you are well on your way.....some students never truly learn it. Don't think of yourself as having hit a wall - I would rather suggest that you think of it as a "pause" before another level is reached. Even after 30 years of ballet class I still have to think when I do a tendu - to articulate - to use the energy - I am not sure we ever get beyond having to think about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2000 12:39 pm 
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Alfredo Corvino, my ballet mentor at Juilliard, always said if the only had 5 minutes to "warm up" he would do tendus and degages, not plies. I never have remembered his explanation, but now I tend to agree. The entire articulation of the foot and leg in ballet is based on the tendu...the stretch, the sequencing of the stretch, the use of the arch, the use of the turnout through the hip/legs which reflects into the working foot, all of these things make it a cornerstone of the technique. Of course we also need plies to stretch the calf muscle, achilles tendon, and achieve flexibility in the hip and knee joints, as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2000 4:10 am 
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makes sense to me, trina. after gavin's post, i thought the same could be said for others of the famous '7 movements of dancing' - where would dance be without tourner, sauter, etc?<P>but étendre and plier is at the base, i suppose...<P>when i read basheva's starter post, i thought in terms of all the stuff trina describes - being expressed in a tendu, a glissé, a dégagé, a battement jeté, a battement lent, a grand battement - the same action in increasing height and/or speed...and these being (together with plié) the core elements of temps liés, glissades, chassés, etc. then into the same leg actions in sautés: jetés, assemblés, sissones, etc.<P>so that's how i interpreted the statement. also i might venture to addd, now that gavin and trina have made me think about it, that perhaps the reason why one might hypothetically choose to do tendus rather than pliés in one's ultra-fast warm-up, is that it is the stretching of the legs in a plié (the recovery action) which feels more beneficial, than the going down action...and that stretching action (étendre) IS like the tendu action....

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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2000 6:19 am 
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The REAL reason I started this thread is the many years (and since I am going to ballet class in just a few minutes will again today) I have seen tendu "un-used". So often it is performed in a perfunctory manner, and perfunctorily accepted by the teacher. Yes, I know the teacher may have corrected it ad infinitum and just given up. I am speaking here of being in the same class for years - and never hearing really worthwhile explanations and corrections of this seemingly simple step. And, these were very fine - even world famous teachers.<P>I have found that the uses and importance of tendu can be explained even to quite young children - 6-7 yrs. old. I tell them that this step will help them get stronger feet - and more beautiful feet - another way of saying articulation. They can readily understand that. Plus I gave them the mental image of ironing the floor with their foot -though without putting weight on that foot. They loved that.<P>But, I have also seen some truly wonderful (and world famous) dancers slight the tendu - popping the toes off the ground - no strength put into the extension - lifting the foot to bring it in - with a sort of "plop" motion. And, I wonder, as I watch this why doesn't the teacher say something? Why isn't this experienced dancer paying attention? <P>I have very strong feet, but not particularly beautiful - and whatever beauty they may have acquired, it was the thousands of tendus I must have done in over 30 years of daily class. Because there was a teacher that cared to tell me - whatever beauty my feet have - it's due to her caring.<P>Sometimes we need to remember to explain the uses - the intricacies - the simplistic beauty - of this often underrated segment of the ballet barre.


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2000 2:16 am 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>the mental image of ironing the floor with their foot<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>one teacher i know went thru a stage of carrying around a facewasher. she would drop it on the floor, in front of the student's heel or toes, then ask them to do a battement tendu, wanting to see the floor pressur move the facewasher. a certain amount of pressure would be needed...<P>i agree completely, basheva, that i DO explain this sort of thing now. but when i was a young student, even though i had the best possible teaching in australia, then, no-one ever told me those things, and i went thru the motions for years, uncomprehending, and missing out on the real 'work' of the step, because i saw each step as a gesture, rather than a a muscle exercise. so much time wasted! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2000 5:28 am 
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"..seeing each step as a gesture rather than a muscular exercise.."<BR>Well Grace, you were half right. <BR>Thinking of the evolution of a child in dance class, with tendu as a barometer,(certainly not the only one! but an example) at a certain point, that child may have reached the ability to connect the external movement with the internal aspect. This is, of course, a matter of maturation both mentally and physically, and has been discussed in other posts in other threads.<BR>It is certainly true that the methodology of the teaching helps to incorporate these two elements when the child is ready, but what of the older student? Again, it is the ability of the teacher to "teach" and not just instruct, therefore, the student cannot be wholly blamed.<P>Dance becomes merely calisthenic, or monkey see, monkey do without the knowledge and understanding of the internal (going) to the external. You have obviously overcome your childhood lack, lol. I don't doubt that we all suffered from some lack of information/communication in our dance training, no matter how good it was. There's just too much room on both sides for some things to slip through. The good news is, that we do learn the ability to teach from the inside out.


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2000 6:35 am 
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I think that we are all agreeing here. <P>There will always be some teachers who "give" class and some who "teach" class. And, then conversely some students who "take" class and some who "learn". <P>There is also the curious circumstance of what I call "lag time". The teacher is offering information but the student is not yet at the place where that information can be processed - it doesn't yet make sense.<P>My first teacher would often say when we were trying to balance "come down before you fall down" - she meant that when the student feels the she is about to lose her balance - fight to come down with control and hopefully with some grace, rather than spill out of the balance.<P>Three years later (I guess I am really slow LOL) it suddently dawned on me what she meant. I knew what the words meant from the beginning - but I was not as yet ready to really internalize them and process them through my body - up till then it was just a catchy little phrase "come down before you fall down". I had experienced that "lag time". <P>So, sometimes it is neither the teacher nor the student "at fault" but merely where the student is in her point of learning. As a teacher, I think that it is important to realize that sometimes the student is not ignoring our help - but stuck in this lag time. Unfortunately, the student may suddenly catch up long after she has passed from our class and we won't see the result of our help. That's the nature of teaching, I suppose - you never know where those ripples we send out across the pond will find a beach.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited October 26, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2000 3:18 pm 
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very true...all......<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>it is important to realize that sometimes the student is not ignoring our help - but stuck in this lag time.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>yes...and also that sometimes, as we are referring to in other threads at present, SOMETIMES, one's teaching is being actively resisted (by teens...usually). <P>i have recently had the experience of a 15 yo telling me that 'NOW it is all coming together, BUT' that she actively resisted my teaching, during a VERY lengthy emotionally fraught period, after she had been most unpleasantly banished from another school for being a difficult and disruptive influence there. it took all of my personal resources to keep her IN my school, (i.e. NOT to tell her to leave mine, also), and to retain any sense of calm, myself. really, looking back, no matter how rewarding the result to see now......and she does look lovely, has achieved mightily, and is well on the way to any career path she may choose now, be it dance-related or academically - it was really TOO much of a personal burden to have had to deal with that, at length, alone, for literally years...it took a huge toll. we live and learn....

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 Post subject: Re: Tendu - A Waste of Time???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2000 7:58 pm 
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I had a dance teacher who said: 'You can't do any move in ballet without some form of plie or tendu in it.' I love tendus -- they're so good for warming up and strengthening the feet and legs!


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