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 Post subject: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2000 1:03 pm 
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Placing the Pirouette<P>It is a very common occurrence for the student to fall off a pirouette – or any other turn for that matter. Most often this fall is toward the back. The very act of turning seems to throw the weight backward. Yet it is this very movement that will destroy any hope of smoothly controlling and landing the pirouette. And, the beauty of the pirouette is not merely in the rotation, or number of rotations, but in the smooth finish. No one will care how many rotations you do, if you fall out of it.<P>The key to the pirouette is in the preparation. From whatever position you begin or end the pirouette, the weight must be forward. Let’s take a simple pirouette from fourth position, right foot back, going en dehors (back toward the right foot). The natural desire is to “throw” the weight backwards. In the preparation itself the weight must be forward on the front foot. Even if the weight feels evenly divided, a bit more weight should be on the forward foot, and the ensuing impetus (the push for the pirouette) should be forward. <P>To test this take the fourth position, right foot back and do a simple releve’, with the right foot coming into retire’ (passe’). Don’t turn. Just try to maintain the balance in releve’. See where your weight is. Is it over the ball and toes of the left foot? Can you maintain that balance for a couple of seconds? If you can’t maintain it in a simple releve’ balance, your chances of maintaining it in a pirouette are probably nil.<P>Let’s go back again to the preparation in fourth position, right foot back. Your left arm should be in seconde and the right arm is curved in front of you (devant). Just as you prepare to push off from the turn – what has happened to your left arm and shoulder? Have you twisted them to the left in preparation for the push off? In other words are you “winding up” for the turn? If this is the case then already, before you even begin, you are out of alignment. As a teacher watching you, I already know that the smooth execution of your pirouette is virtually impossible. Remember it is not your arms that turn you. You may be asked to keep your arms over your head – or crossed on your chest. The push for the pirouette is in your leg that is going into passe’, the turnout of that knee, and your spotting head. <P>After doing the simple releve’ passe’ balance to see where your weight is, try to do quarter turns – just turn one quarter of the way around, and see which way you fall. Do you fall toward the back? Then you were not over the ball of your foot. Are you falling forward? That is much less of a problem and it will most naturally correct itself. But the ultimate aim is to go up to what feels, when you are first trying this, VERY forward, and then just come down to a flat foot (right leg still in passe’). <P>Whenever I had trouble with my pirouettes I would go back to these basic exercises. A simple releve’ passe’ up and then just come down on your standing heel (right leg still in passe’). I knew if I could do that – land on one foot – I would have no trouble at all of finishing my pirouettes on two feet. And, there are times when the choreography calls for finishing a pirouette on one foot – with the other foot going somewhere else – like into arabesque or attitude (devant or derriere). <P>The real brake, the real way to stop a pirouette is with the heel of the standing leg coming down. Another crucial lesson is to learn just how much (and how little) energy you need to turn. It’s like driving a car, if you go faster it takes longer and is more difficult to stop. The amount of energy you need to complete the turn depends on the number of rotations, the condition of the floor and your shoes. You have to learn to use the precise amount of energy necessary for the completion of the rotation and no more. <P>More information can be found on this thread:<BR><A HREF=../../../ubb/Forum7/HTML/000594.html><B>BASHEVA</B></a><P>(This thread got labeled with my name...I am not sure how that happened! LOL)<P>------------------<BR>Approach life as a dancer approaches the barre, with grace and purpose.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited May 06, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2000 1:10 pm 
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Location: South Hampton, Long Island, USA
Do you have any advice for pirouettes from deuxieme position? <P>------------------<BR>~Intuviel~<BR><A HREF="http://www.freetown.com/Uptown/HaightAshbury/1055/ballet.html" TARGET=_blank>Balletica</A><BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2000 5:15 pm 
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I always found pirouettes from second position to be rather awkward, but interesting. <P>I have seen it taught in a number of ways. Some teachers want it done with slightly more weight on the standing leg. I don't agree with that at all. I think that the weight should be evenly divided. I do think that the opening of the second postion can be smaller than the normal second used in the grand plie'. <P>Otherwise, the practice for it is the same. Try just the push off and then the balance in passe' first, see if you can hold it for a couple of seconds, see which way you fall.<P>The problem with second position pirouette is that not only must the weight be forward on the standing foot, but is also has a distance to travel to the side. This is well tested out in the balance exercise. <P>Because this pirouette begins from an open position (second rather than fifth) it is even more important that the dancer be in control of stomach and derriere muscles. That is the glue that will hold the pirouette together.<P>I hope that this has helped, Intuviel, you asked a very good and interesting question.


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 6:51 pm 
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excellent post, basheva - i think that would make a good section to transcribe into our library, when we write up pirouette advice. (i use the term 'pirouette' loosely).<P>one Q: did you mean to write this, or is it a typo?<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>...if you go faster it takes longer <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>intuviel - i agree with basheva's advice: small second, and transferring the weight accurately is the key.

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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 8:16 pm 
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No, that wasn't a typo - but maybe it should have been LOL. <P>Sometimes people feel they have to put a great deal of energy into a simple turn - because they are unsure of the energy needed and the technique, so they feel just force will do it. Of course we know the exact opposite to be true. And if there is too much force it does take longer to stop - more time and more space. <P>Thank you Grace, for your kind words, truly. If you want to keep this for archives or whatever - please do. I have it, however, in my computer, just so you know. I have gotten into the habit of doing that most of the time, anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 1:32 pm 
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I have found using a wobble board a wonderful aid to help pupils find their balance for pirouettes.Has anyone else tried this?


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 3:05 pm 
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Yes, Gavin. Aren't they useful! I have used them in a number of situations. How else have you found the balance, or wobble board useful? Do you use a see-saw type, or one with a round bottom?


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 5:12 pm 
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And I have no idea what you are all talking about !! LOL - never heard of it - and have never seen it.<P>Please explain.


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:46 pm 
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ah - okey doke - fair enuf! - but i can only explain the ones i've seen, which i saw first about 15 years ago at the RBS, but have since seen at serious training schools in australia.<P>the 'round' one is like exactly half of a globe (made of something solid - i never really noticed exactly what). on top of that half-globe is a small flat board which you stand on - just a bit bigger than two (small) feet, but in use it's usually only one foot that's on it.<P>the dancer poises on the center of the board, endeavouring to become more sensitively attuned to how their own weight is distributed - with the end aim of becoming SO well able to control that distribution, that they are able to balance with a very fine understanding of the exact point/positions, required in their own bodies.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:49 pm 
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hang on - i should have said that the flat board is not far of the floor, i.e. the semi-globe is small enough that the board ends up at, about, say, 4" from the floor (not meaning to have created an image of a circus performer balancing on a ball!)

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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 3:33 pm 
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Thank you, Grace - an apt description. Do you think this is worthwhile?<P>Danilova once described an interesting balance exercise that she used to do. It was very simple, but I found it rather effective. And would certainly be effective for pirouettes a la seconde. <P>Stand on the left foot and pique' to second position onto the demi-pointe (or even full pointe) onto the right foot and maintain the balance with left foot now in second position off the ground a few inches - then rock back again to pique' onto the left foot. Back and forth - but each time maintain the balance for a length of time. It really does make one aware of taking the entire balance completely from one side to the other. <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited December 16, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 4:22 pm 
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I will detail some of the uses of the balance board when I have a little more time. I'm a bit rushed now, but it's worth passing some of it on.


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 Post subject: Re: Placing the Pirouette
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2000 6:00 am 
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I use the balance board in several ways. It is a very good tool for improving posture and placement for several reasons.<P> <BR>a) develops pro-prioceptive awareness, or reflexes relating to placement of body parts as pertains to balance.<P>b) develops muscular activity leading to postural alignment, ie; posture is inter-related, and not just a matter of aligning the spine/shoulder girdle/head. The foot/ankle/leg alignment is equally important, and can affect the trunk, as in hyper-extended knees. (Dancers with hyper-extended knees often have hyper-mobility elsewhere.)<P>c) rehabilitation from injury, particulary foot and ankle. It's important to address the function of the nerves in the foot and ankle without stressing the the soft tissues the nerves affect. The feedback the dancer gets if this is not done is the sense that a re-injury could happen very easily. She would be right, because the nerves aren't rehabilitated enough to send good messages to the musculature. Additionally, work on the balance board works the intrinsic muscles in the foot.<P>The "see-saw" type board I often use with little jumps. I have the dancer make a small jump onto the board in the direction that it would see-saw, to land as close to the middle as possible. The idea is to stabilize the board from rocking as soon as possible after landing. <BR>


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