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Step of the week 1.pirouette


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 05:55 PM

It's been a long time, and I've never seen the Joffrey Nutcracker live, believe it or not. My mother had entered active dying at the time it was premiered and her care was all-consuming. If I may venture a guess, that sounds to me like a pas de ciseaux - the ballet version of the jazz "switch-kick".

(PS. Just checked with a friend in a position to know - it is.)

#17 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 07:19 PM

OK, nobody took me up on the Danish thread about pirouette sur le cou de pied, but here it comes anyway.

In Bournonville, a signature step is a pirouette done in a wrapped sur le cou de pied position. The preparation (R foot in front in fifth) is a standard tendu à la seconde with a rond de jambe to OPEN fourth position (i.e. opposite first instead of fifth) with the R arm brought to the bras bas position and the L arm left in second. Demi-plié in open fourth and rise to sur le cou de pied (with the foot on the ankle and the heel to the front and the toes wrapped around the back) on relevé, simultaneously turning, and bringing both arms to bras bas. End in fifth position R foot back. Try these, dancers, and if you can do more than a double cleanly, you'll be about the first. Bournonville intentionally taught these turns so that his dancers wouldn't "stunt" by doing more than double pirouettes. If the pirouettes are singles, they're done on pointe by women, and if double, on demi-pointe - another period touch. You'll see it in Bournonville choreography and in some stagings of the "Vivandiére" pas de six.

#18 Treefrog

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 05:42 AM

Thanks for following up on the pas de ciseaux, Mel. :) My kids have spirited away both our copies of Gail Grant, but when I find it I'll read the technical description.

#19 Hans

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:05 AM

The Grant description of pas de ciseaux is as follows:

Pas de ciseaux. Scissors step. A term of the Russian school. Pas de ciseaux is similar to a cabriole devant, except that the legs do not beat but pass over each other. Fourth position croisé derrière, R foot back, pointe tendue. Demi-plié on the L leg, thrusting the R leg forward in effacé with a grand battement, bending the torso back. Spring off the L, throwing it forward so that it passes the R in the air. The L leg, well extended, is immediately thrown backward through the first position into first arabesque, as the R leg descends in demi-plié.

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:44 PM

But the step can be done "penché" for want of a better term, going from one split croisé to another split effacé, which is what happens when Calvin does it.

#21 Hans

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 03:40 PM

In which case the change of legs would happen under, instead of in front of, the body, right? Also, I've seen it done with a passe instead of through 1st position.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 03:43 PM

Exactly, I've done them all three ways.

By the way, tangential thinking on Step of the Week is to be encouraged. We'll discuss a lot more steps than 52 by the end of a year that way! B)

#23 pleiades

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 04:28 PM

re: the pirouette in sur le cou de pied -- encountered this step in a drop in class while out of town. To say it was hard would be, for me, an understatement. I couldn't even do one, and my foot was nowhere near where it was supposed to be.

#24 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 04:41 PM

Don't feel discouraged. They take a lot of practice. But once you get them right, you'll be REALLY well aligned, and ready for almost anything else. (By the way, the next step in the progression of Bournonville pirouettes are en attitude, both en dedans AND en dehors :speechless: )

#25 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 04:58 PM

In "Etudes", which is not Bournonville, but Harold Lander choreography for the Royal Danish Ballet, there is a section with piqué turns en manège where the singles are done at the back of the leg in cou de pied derrière, which is normal, but the doubles are done with the foot in cou de pied devant, which is quite unusual. There are four girls doing a complete circle (square, actually) of 3 single, 1 double, 3 single, 1 double, etc. (This section was not particularly problematic except the downstage portion when on a raked stage! :rolleyes:

#26 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 07:45 PM

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".

#27 Cliff

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 09:13 PM

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

#28 Paul Parish

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 11:29 PM

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......

#29 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 03:30 AM

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.

#30 carbro

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 10:07 AM

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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