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 Post subject: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2000 7:46 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Have you ever had a really basic question about the ballet that you wanted to know but thought was too silly to ask? Let's start with the premise, which I firmly believe, that there are NO silly quesitons.<P>For instance - why do ballet dancers turn out? <P>For three main reasons: it facilitates movement. If your leg is turned frontwards, it's normal position, it cannot elevate to any significant degree either front, back or side. If both your feet are pointing frontward - you have no back foot. Moving sideways or backwards is much more difficult. You can also move much more swiftly when you are turned out.<P>If you are standing on one foot your balance is much more stable if the foot you are standing upon is somewhat turned out. <P>The turned out position is much more athestically pleasing and is used for other forms of dance such as Balinese. The foot and leg are more presentable - pleasing to the eye, when seen turned out - rather than straight on. <P>You are also less likely to trip, when turned out, rather than moving straight on. Though I have used the terms turned out feet and legs - all turn-out begins and is held in the hip.<P>What quesitons do you have? Anything that you have always wanted to know -........Here's your chance...........<P>


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2000 8:46 am 
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Some more questions: Whatever happened to third position?<P>It died - as technique "improved" and got more demanding - third position died and fifth became even tighter. At the expense of knees and feet. Most of us aren't made to use and maintain tight fifths.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2000 3:40 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: ottawa, ontario, canada
Ok we have a really silly question. what do you do about underware showing. It bothers me in my daughter class to see it poking out so i let mine just wear her tights and leotard with no underware. what do other people do? told you it was silly<BR>charlene


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2000 3:55 pm 
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Location: Australia
oh charlene, i'm so glad you asked! i HATE it when this happens with my students.<P>frankly, i never wore any. and i never knew anyone else who did either....just tights. but LITTLE girls may be more particular about such things......<P>probably the best suggestion is the actual shape of the brief - that it be fairly high-cut, so the legline doesn't show...flesh colour would be a good idea, too - not pink roses!<P>the dancewear shops do sell appropriate items, but i've personally never bought any, so don't know what to recommend....maybe go there, and ask the staff what they sell?<P>maybe basheva will be better informed, especially about american products and american habits!

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2000 5:02 pm 
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Charlene - THERE ARE NO SILLY/DUMB QUESTIONS - only sometimes silly, dumb answers !! This is the spot for any and all questions. <P>I never wore anything under the tights and leotards - and no one I ever knew did either. If they came to class the first time or so wearing it, they soon realized that no one else did - and so just wore the tights and leotards. Wearing undies not only shows, it's also a lot of elastic around the waist. If your daughter insists, then Grace's idea is great - high leg cut (if they have it for little girls) and a matching color.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2000 6:39 am 
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Ever wonder why ballet class always starts with plies'? Why that particular movement? I wondered about that myself until I read an interesting explanation. <P>The largest arteries going to your legs pass through the groin and down the inside of the thighs. Blood supply to the muscles is stimulated when this artery is "rubbed" by the surrounding tissue. We naturally do this when something hurts - we rub it - even a small child does this instinctively. As the artery is stimulated the blood supply is increased and therefore the muscles, tendons, etc. are warmed and readied for use. So, it seems that doing plies' is the quickest way to warm up the lower extremities. Of course, plie' also begins to stretch the Achilles tendons, as well as the others.<P> In my opinion, grand plie' in first, fourth & fifth position should be eliminated. For the final 15 yrs that I taught (and for my own class too) I never did grand plie' in those positions. Instead I substituted two demi-plies' to fill out the music. I never noticed any adverse affects on either my dancing or that of my students, from eliminating these grand plies. On the contrary it saved a lot of knees. My teachers used to argue about this, until I saw an article bearing out my thoughts in Dance Magazine. It was written by the orthopedic doctor to NYCB. He said that grand plie' in every position except 2nd was about the worst thing you could do to your knees. My teachers read this article - agreed with it - and continued to demand grand plies' from everyone - except me. I never had any knee trouble and am still taking ballet class.<P>I would be interested in what other teachers and students think of this. If you thought something was detrimental to you would you have the courage to tell the teacher and not do it?


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 5:54 am 
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well i am glad you continued on with your thoughts here, basheva, because when i saw this following line, i was worried that i was going to have to disagree with you for the first time! Image<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ballet class always starts with plies<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>the reason i would have disagreed, had you NOT continued, is that in my experience (and i only know GOOD teachers!) most ballet classes have NOT begun with pliés, for about half my lifetime now!<P>but i agree that it did, when i was a small child and taking syllabus examinations. 1st exercise: pliés.<P>since all that time ago, i have found it far more common for ballet class to commence with warm-up exercises, consisting of various small movements designed to 'get the blood flowing', rather than to make huge demands on the circulation or anything else. examples: tendus, slow rises, rond de jambes, cambrés (in any direction), ports de bras, range-of-motion exercises for any joint, such as ankle circling, ankle flexion, etc....<P>regarding the exercise of pliés specifically, again in my experience the best teachers have moved these much further into the barre. when i am teaching a non-syllabus class, i would put full pliés at about the middle of the barre sequence of exercises - AFTER warm-up exercises, tendus, glisses, rond de jambes, etc.<P>i have not given FULL pliés in 4th for many years, and do not see any justification for doing them. i DO still see adequate value in the other positions, as long as they are executed correctly by a body sufficiently warmed-up and well-trained to do them - "adequate value", that is, to balance off against the potential risk. <P>after all, there is risk in breathing, risk in ...anything. we have to make informed decisions which risks are worth taking, when, and how. this is part of the teacher's responsibility.<P>however i am quite happy to see your approach, too - especially if you say that you've tried it over the years, and not found any loss of strength or capability, (and with the obvious protection advantage to the knees).<P>i wouldn't be surprised if this turns into a Plié thread now! Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 6:42 am 
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I, too, when I was teaching altered the first movements at the barre to smaller warm-ups, as you suggested Grace. However, most all ballet classes here in San Diego start with grand plies'. So, I just get to class much earlier and give myself a pre-warmup. But, then I like to get to class early anyway - and begin to shut out the everyday world. Ballet is as much a mood for me as an activity. <P>I did take a couple of classes many years ago from a Balanchine dancer (of some note, I may add) who began class with grand battements, which really set me back on my mental heels. <P>From what I gathered from the NYCB orthopedic doctor's article in Dance Magazine, was that the detriment to the knees in grande plie' in 5th, lst and 4th position had nothing to do with the warmup or lack of it. He said that the two largest muscles (calf and thigh) would be in major contact (the angle is too acute) and that would force the knee joint itself to open beyond what it was designed to do. Whereas in second position the angle is never tighter than 45 degrees (when done correctly).<P> I have actually seen people in class go into second position grand plie' and go past that 45 degree angel - over split the grand plie' and never get corrected for it. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited October 10, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 7:12 am 
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Grace - I am sure the time will come when we will disagree - and I see disagreement as also productive when the two people involved really care - as you and I do.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 7:20 am 
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an attitude i agree with, basheva. thanks! Image<P>now, back to pliés!<P>can you clarify here, re the angle and your comments above. i am seeing the angle at the knee as 90 degrees in 2nd position, and as a greater degree in every other position. are we seeing that the same way, just for clarification of discussion purposes?<P>i can already see my thinking is wrong. obviously it depends from which side one is looking at the angle!<P>try again!: if we look at the angle formed by the thigh against the calf, then it is 90 degres in 2nd, and LESSER degrees in the other positions...NOW, have i got it right? Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 3:56 pm 
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Grace - the problem is ME - not you. I don't count much above 8 (and on bad days - I do four twice). You are right - the angle is 90 degrees - it's a right angle in second position.<P> In the other positions it is less of an angle. And the doctor was saying that because the two large muscles (calf and thigh) would be impacting on each other - they would force the knee joint to open in a way it was never intended to do. Whereas in grand plie in second position these two muscles never come in contact. <P> I taught a group of about 18 adults (it was a very stable group) for about ten years. During that time we had no knee problems. After I retired they went elsewhere, though we still kept in touch as friends. They would call me and tell me that as other teachers were giving them grand plies in lst, 4th and 5th position they began having knee problems. The sad thing was, that the other teachers would not allow them to substitute demi-plies - and so one by one these very dedicated ladies quit dancing.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 4:38 am 
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interesting information, basheva, i hadn't thought about the issue you describe in your second para - only about the weight-load on the knee joint in 'recovering' from the full plié.<P>food for thought...<P>and no teacher of adults here could tell any student what to do. if the student wants to do less than the set exercise, no-one would dare say 'boo'! <P>just as likely, there will be one student who will add beats to everything, or in some other way do MORE than was asked for, whether of appropriate ability for that or not, but it would take a brave teacher to say anything, because the attitude exists that: unless they get what they came here for, they'll just quit anyway, so may as well let them do what they want, as long as they're not endangering themselves or anyone else.<P>actually it can be pretty difficult even to get them to stop something which IS dangerous, as they're likely to be insulted - so after trying politely, one just looks the other way ....

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 8:48 am 
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That's a very interesting comparison of attitudes on the part of students that you described, Grace. I just came back from ballet class this morning. I am senior member of the class (age and experience) and I often add beats to jumps or rotations to turns, however, I never do it without asking the teacher if I may. I guess, it's just the protocul that what the teacher/choreographer sets - that's it!!! unless permission is granted to change it in some way. I will also tell the teacher if there is a movement I feel that I have to avoid. But, being shy has never been my problem. I have had teachers frown at me for not doing grand plies' in class, but it's my body, I have to live with the results of hurting it. <P> There are many adult students I have come across (mostly female) who are shy, who want to please and who find it very difficult to say in no uncertain terms - this is not right for me - I can't do it. They are no good at putting up with frowns. <P>I do remember one male adult student I had who simply would not listen to me and insisted on jerking his knee straight in rond de jamb en l'air. (He was already having knee problems from his other sports activities). I correct him numerous times, and finally told him, "I simply can't allow you to do this exercise in my class. I have seen people with dislocated knee caps - it's not pleasant and you are on the road to trouble - and I don't have time to take you to the Hospital Emergency Room" He accepted that - and just didn't do that exercise!! <P>Do you think that this attitude you are describing is a cultural thing? <BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited October 11, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 5:04 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>it's my body, I have to live with the results of hurting it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>that's right! good attitude. Image<P>as to the differences we are describing, basheva, i have no idea - i'm inclined to think it is, perhaps, that there are SO very few adults here who take ballet, that it's a different 'subset' of people who do it.....<P>it does also depend on the school, and the area the school is located in, and the type of teacher one is, as to the attitudes people can bring with them....every group is different, in my experience. with adults more so than with children, we have to be extremely sensitive and responsive to the messages we get, about what they want to do and what they don't.<P>individuals teachers tend to develop a mini-cult following here, and the students only continue doing class as long as the same class remains available in the same timeslot at the same venue with the same teacher. if one if those factors alters, they are as likely to just drop the ballet out of their busy schedule, and go to aerobics, or try jogging, or just have a rest!<P>i think the older you get, the more opinionated you become about what you like and don't, and also that you learn about your body and know what it needs, and you acquire some distinct exercise habits. you therefore then, only really want to do, what you know is going to work for you (all of this applies to me too, of course)....but no teacher can know everyone's built-in wish-list.<P>i think atmosphere is super important for adults. and so is the venue. if it's not a friendly supportive 'place' that they feel positive about coming to, it's harder to keep their motivation up....conversely, when you get just the right person and class for you, you'll put up with anything when you love it.<P>i was never a fan of 'pineapple' in london, but i would have followed john o'brien anywhere - his classes were like no others. his following was definitely cult-like! but then, we are talking now about some professional dancers, as well as adults seeking exercise/dance. i've strayed a bit....

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2000 1:23 pm 
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The question I am most frequently asked by non-ballet people is - what holds you up in those toe shoes? <P>Quickly followed by what's inside those shoes? <P>And, does it hurt?<P>Fortunately those are the easiest questions to answer. I hold myself up in those toe shoes - lots of hard work has made my feet strong. The only thing inside those toe shoes is me!! No wood. The shoes themselves are made of leather, cloth and glue. Some more modern shoes are made with compounds of fiber glass.<P>Yes, when one begins pointe it does hurt, but in time it doesn't if good care is taken of the feet. <P>Any more questions?


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