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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2000 11:58 pm 
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Basheva, in your first question you asked 'why is turnout important' then answered 'because it facilitates movement'. <BR>But my question is why is the DEGREE of turnout important?<BR>Because im sure that only very few people have a 'perfect' 180 degree turnout. <BR>And also the fact that teachers are always pushing the students to get that 'perfect 180'.

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 2:55 am 
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elisabeth, i have my own thoughts on this (wouldn't you know it!?!) but i'll leave it for basheva to go first, because i do enjoy reading her comments so much. btw, just noticed you are australian - so am i - so, a double welcome! Image Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 7:34 am 
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Image <P>Elizabeth - In my opinion, any teacher that pushes for a perfect 180 degrees is flat out wrong. There are very few people who can reach that perfection and adequately hold it without damage to some portion of the body, principally the knees. If you look at the gorgeous body of Prima Ballerina Natalia Makarova - you will see that she is perfectly turned out - however, her knees are not alligned over her feet. And, knee problems are what ended her career.<P>There are several things that impact turnout, as I understand it. The length and pliabillity of the ligaments, tendons and muscles. These can certainly to some extent be stretched and strengthened. But also involved is the shape of the ball and socket joint of the hip itself - the very skeleton, itself. This, of course, cannot be altered and to ask the student to pursue this arbitrary perfection negatively impacts other parts of the body. <P>The original turn out of the ballet was part of the court dance of France - if you look at pictures of people from that time you will see that they are turned out. They discovered that the body is shown to a nicer line when it is turned out - and this was very important to those people of the court - how they dressed and how they looked was of paramount concern. They also discovered that in dance, the body moved better turned out. But in our time many things about the ballet have moved into the extreme - thinness - turnout - extension - jumps - speed - all to the detriment of the dancer, unfortunately. <P>Elizabeth, I hope that I have helped answer your question. <P>[Edited by Azlan to insert photo per Basheva's request]<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 3:31 pm 
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OK! now *I* can say something! i'm glad i waited, because basheva's post is great.<P>and makarova looks gorgeous, knee-alignment notwithstanding!<P>elisabeth, my answer would be that it's purely aesthetic.<P>if you think of perfect turnout, with the leg in a la seconde, en l'air (i.e. in the air to the side!), the beautiful curves of all the musculature of the leg (and foot) are supremely apparent. if less turned out, these are lost.<P>likewise in arabesque, in the opposite way, where a geometric shape suggesting progression to infinity is desired. if perfectly turned out, the lifted leg makes (more or less) a 'straight' line (leg shape curves are LESS apparent), whereas if LESS turned out, the curves of the thigh, knee, calves, heel, etc - all interrupt that perfect straight line to 'forever'.....<P>another aesthetic consideration is a harder one to pin down or describe, but it is the impression of 'outwardness' or 'en dehors' of the whole body (not just the legs in the hip sockets) which conveys open-ness and generosity and expansiveness, a larger-than-life impression.....as compared to, for example, the reverse body language of the old, tired, miserable person ( Image) whose body is 'small', shrunken, inwardly-turned, rounded shoulders, lowered head, introspective gaze, etc....<P>so for ballet, at some stage, i think it helps if the dancer becomes consciously aware of the turnout of the WHOLE body. i've found very few people are aware of this. of course good dancers DO it, but have never thought of it that way.....<P>(the vaganova approach, btw, DOES talk about the 'en dehors' of the whole body.)

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 4:54 pm 
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Thanx for the welcome grace.<BR>Basheva and grace you both gave great explainations. But there is a question in my mind.<BR>Grace talked about how having 'perfect' turnout makes the leg look like its in a continuous 'line'. But you will find very few people do have the 'perfect' turnout and many people would have to force it. <BR>So i thought, is the 'line' of a leg, more important than having a 'normally' functioning body later on in life? <BR>I ask this because many dancers careers are ended early due to hip replacements and commonly knee surgery (like with Natlia Makorova) because of the 'forced' turnout.

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 1:57 am 
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ah..well, elizabeth. THAT is precisely the crux of it!<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>is the 'line' of a leg, more important than having a 'normally' functioning body later on in life? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>only individuals can make these choices, as they are the ones who wear the consequences - for life, as you say.<P>given that it is often CHILDREN making these choices - and ambitious headstrong wilful children, with the inevitable confidence of youth - this is why some teachers (US, for example!) can get so worked up about 'good training' issues.<P>the teacher in a way becomes the one making the choices for the child, up to a certain age. so, at the very least the teacher must be informed and responsible, so as to minimise damage (ideally, of course, one must do NO damage), but even the teacher cannot CONTROL what the child does - only advise, recommend, set a good example, etc.<P>i believe that we have also a responsibility to INFORM, so that student dancers CAN make their own informed choices - but bearing in mind that "kids will be kids", we also must accept a good share of responsibility for what we ask or expect them to do, and for trying to intervene when they make dangerous choices.<P>personally i think the proliferation of vaganova-based teaching approaches, in the united states especially, but also all over the world in the last 15 years, is responsible for a very dangerous trend towards too many unsuited bodies over-rotating their legs,with all the risks that go along with that.<P>just curious, elizabeth, why you are asking about this in particular? Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 4:55 am 
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I am of the opinion that it is nearly impossible not to force the turnout. I see this in two ways. 1)the intentional forcing by the dancer, 2) inadvertant forcing due to the closed kinetic connection of the foot with the floor as the dancer works. It is the wise dancer that finds just what the degree of her turnout is while not standing, and then strives to manage it. Note, also, that most dancers, (and many non-dancers) have some degree of tibial torsion to contend with. While it may not be desirable in terms of perfect leg alignment, it can be allowable, much as hyper-extended legs are, if considered properly. This does cause a turnout of the shin/ankle/foot beyond the knee. A dancer must be aware of the degree of her tibial torsion also.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 7:11 am 
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I think that this addiction to "perfection" is a Balanchine phenomenon - Gelsey Kirkland, Edward Villela among others write of it. Also the pre-occupation with thinness. Also the preoccupation with great speed in allegro. <P>And, that's beautifully said, Grace, about the openness of the body - opening out to the world............<P>Both teacher and student have to make these choices, as Grace says, and bear the responsiblity for those choices. I was always concerned that the student would be able to walk when he/she was finished dancing. I have great ambivalence about the standards of an art form that so often injures the artist. An art form (or sport) that treats bodies as expendable, may need to rethink the degree to which one is encouraged to obtain these perfections.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2000 11:33 pm 
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Basheva, were my primary teacher to read your last post here, she'd probably leap up and burst into applause and cheers!<P>


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 6:46 am 
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Priscilla - I surely hope, then, that the good lady is still alive and teaching !!!


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 12:58 pm 
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Grace, the reason i am asking about this, is because i wanted to know other peoples thoughts on teachers pushing people to turnout. It used to be 'turnout!', now its 'turnout to a 180!'. You will come across very few dancers who have less than the 'perfect' turnout. But i guess this is just another way ballet has 'evolved' like with the excessive thinness. If ballet is pushing people to be very 'hard' on their bodies, then it makes you think 'what will come next?' but i guess that will be another thread. <P>

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 3:08 pm 
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well yes, elizabeth - that would be a superb "other thread"! when i get a minute later today, i will do just that - it'll be up in BALLET (or in ISSUES - haven't decided yaet!). thanks for that provocative idea. Image<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>You will come across very few dancers who have less than the<BR> 'perfect' turnout. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>actually, elizabeth, i hope you don't mind my saying this...but i really don't think this is the case. there are appearances - and there is reality! and dancers are artful manipulators of their appearance! Image<P>there are very few people in the world with the capacity for 'flat' turnout, so all the rest of us manage in some other way. <P>i DO agree with you, though, that the pressure to appear to have flat turnout HAS increased over the years - especially with the spread of vaganova based teaching. <P>and that's a shame, because vaganova herself must have had far too much intelligence, to ever want (or deserve) to see her name seemingly maligned by statements like that....those teachers who apply her methods innappropriately, are the ones who are to blame.. her methods were only ever invented/developed for a very specific sub-group of human physiques - and most children they are being applied to today DO NOT fit into that category. this is downright dangerous....but..who's listening to ME?!?<P> Image<P>elizabeth - can i ask exactly where you have picked up this impression? is it observation of performances? or from watching/being involved in particular training schools? or something else?

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 5:09 pm 
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I have a question. I have seen Vaganova's name mentioned several times here as being the one to really push turnout. Now, while I realize that Balanchine was certainly schooled under her influence, I am not sure that she was responsible for this extreme that we are seeing today. In my opinion - I would put the blame/responsibility on Balanchine. I would certainly put the responsibility for ultra thinness on him - and the extemes of speed and extensions. <P>I am interested in what your opinions are on this.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2000 9:51 pm 
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just briefly here basheva because i am in a hurry! - i do NOT blame vaganova for ANYTHING. i DO blame ignorant teachers (and lots of them) for taking a training system intended for ONLY the 'MOST suited to ballet physiques in the whole world....' and applying it innappropriately and dangerously to anyone who walks into a ballet class.<P>this is happening all over the world, in the last 15 years, whereas any balanchine influence on TRAINING is at least 99% restricted to the american system.<P>btw, as this has come up before, a something related, and caught me out: balanchine graduated from the 'petrograd' school in 1921. vaganova commenced teaching at the petrograd school in 1921, (and became its director by 1934). so she had no effect on balanchine's own training.....<P>re the thin-ness, i could not blame balanchine. i see this as purely fashion - think of the sixties: twiggy, 'the shrimp' (jean shrimpton), the clothing styles and the waif like make-up etc.....it's impossible to say what 'causes' fashion, and which comes first socially, re political change and societal change and fashion and the various representations of fashion (of which fashion in dance is one)....so i don't think any one thing/person can be blamed for that. you could perhaps say that balanchine could be credited with taking that 60's fashion INTO ballet, onstage, at the time....<P>can't write more, right now, but agree that this is all interesting stuff..... Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2000 6:50 am 
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In my opinion Balanchine insisted on it past all reason to the detriment of his dancers. Though I know that Vaganova did not train Balanchine - I think, that the standards were pretty much shared. From what I have heard - especially toward the end - the atmosphere was almost "cultish" at the School of American Ballet. Vaganova schooling is not heard about very much in the USA. So, I am sure, Grace, you have much more knowledge than I have about its effects worldwide. Here we speak of the Balanchine School.


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