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Mel Johnson

Step of the week 1.

40 posts in this topic

We gotta remember - this is Discovering Ballet, and maybe we're getting a little advanced with examples, me especially. So, if we can keep it to the basics, and little variations thereon, we'll be doing a service for the Ballet Discoverers without overwhelming them. :shrug:

"En manege" means "in a circle". Another term for the same thing is "autour de la salle" which looks like "driving to college", but actually just means "around the room".

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Instead of clockwise and counter-clockwise, there are inside and outside pirouettes. So, is the direction chosen in order to transition gracefully from the preceeding step? Or is there any particular significance or meaning attached to the direction? Maybe in a story ballet an inward pirouette would signify acceptance and outward indicates rejection.

Cliff

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Somehow, I've got it in my head that the term pirouette is in fact reserved for releve turns, and that pique turns are called pique turns, whether they're inside or outside ("step-ups") or in attitude or arabesque or whatever position..... I don't know what the dictionary would say, but that's the usage I've experienced .....

in fact, it seems that "pirouette" is always applied to a turn that starts by springing from two feet to one foot onto point (or demi-pointe) which leads me to wonder, if all pirouettes are versions of sissonnes-to-pointe that turn......

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Cliff, usually, the pirouette is set by the choreography to proceed in an orderly manner from the preceding steps. There is something jarring when a dancer does a turn of any sort to favor his/her turning side when it breaks the progression of the dance and moves in a contrary way to the leadup steps. As to dramatic possibilities of the turn, yes, it can be used for the meanings you propose. Antony Tudor did that sort of thing all the time. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, if you catch my drift.

Paul, I think that distinction is generally sound, except that there are schools which call the ordinary piqué turn a pirouette piquée. It's just a nomenclature thing.

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There is something jarring when a dancer does a turn of any sort to favor his/her turning side when it breaks the progression of the dance and moves in a contrary way to the leadup steps.

So it's not just me who often finds this disconcerting. Thank you, Mel! I may not be remembering perfectly well, but I don't think I ever saw pirouettes to the left in Balanchine's work at NYCB until after his death. Now they're done fairly often.

Paul, aren't pirouettes sometimes (albeit rarely) done with a releve from one foot, when the working leg is already en l'air? Hate to be picky, picky, picky, but . . .

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I may not be remembering perfectly well, but I don't think I ever saw pirouettes to the left in Balanchine's work at NYCB until after his death.

The danseur's solo in Theme & Variations calls for pirouettes to be done alternately to the left and right. In my viewing experience, Helgi Tomasson used to do them, but I can't think of a subsequent dancer who did.

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Carbro, you're right about pirouettes done done with a relevé on one leg, and a prime example is pirouettes en dedans from fourth position croisé: the working leg performs a dégagé à la seconde with the supporting leg in plié, then as one does the relevé, the working leg comes to retiré. Not everyone teaches every en dedans pirouette that way, of course, but it's good to know in case one has to dance Diana and Actaeon :)

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Carbro, dear, you're not being picky -- we do en dedans pirouettes like that in sally's class, but she acknowledges that it's "with a fouette"--

My next question was going to be "is it still a sissonne if you spring from two feet to one foot from an open position (i.e., a lunge)?"

We also sometimes -- very rarely -- do tours de fini in sur le cou de pied -- actually in the position we call coupe, which is at the ankle , heel forward, but not wrapped -- sous-sus, then 7 consecutively to hte right, close back, soussus, 7 to the left, without putting hte foot down.... We do tours de fini at the end of almost EVERY class, from fifth, arms center. When they're done in "coupe," we do arms in second and flex our wrists just for fun.... they are fun.

so that kind of shoots my little theory, because that's certainly not a fouette....

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Paul, the sissonnes from an open position to cou de pied are sometimes referred to as "sissonnes passées".

I saw a Kitri once who did her Fandango solo in the first act with the diagonal of pirouettes repeated without coming down to fifth every time. With the swirling skirt, the effect was even more dramatic than the fouettés she did in the last act.

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Mel, do you think that sometime in the future you could discuss and contrast similar steps? For instance, as a non-dancer, I can't seem to see the difference between pirouettes and fouettes. Thanks so much!

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Sure, Nora; you're not alone. It used to be shorthand to call the fouettés "fouetté pirouettes", which is somewhat logical, and easier to say than "fouetté rond de jambe en tournant". With the fouettés, the movement starts with a pirouette en dehors and moves continuously through a series of extensions to the front (Italian school) or to the side (Russian school) and then carried around to the side and whipped in to the knee (It), or just brought back into the knee from seconde (Ru) and a turn ensues.

Fouetté means "whipped" and can come in lots of different varieties.

A pirouette en dedans can be done with a fouetté movement or not. A pirouette en dehors is never done with a fouetté movement without becoming something else.

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Mel, does this whipping motion make the fouette intentionally faster?

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An even better example of supported arms in pirouettes would be those of Jose Manuel Carreno. He also has some of the most beautiful pirouettes that I've ever seen. I can't help but notice Corella's tendancy to arch back in his pirouettes. Its quite noticable and prevents his turns from looking completely centered and effortless. By the way, I was watching a short clip of Alicia Alonso in the Black Swan Pas de Deux from the 60's or 70's. Her 6 pirouettes seemed to rival those of Sofianne Sylvie.

Rachel

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An even better example of supported arms in pirouettes would be those of Jose Manuel Carreno. He also has some of the most beautiful pirouettes that I've ever seen.

And by going --->here, you can see just how very beautiful they are! :wink:

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