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Mel Johnson

Step of the Week 2

17 posts in this topic

Dancing steps are great, but things would get hopelessly muddled and downright exhausting if it weren't for linking steps. One of the most common of these is the glissade. It looks like what it means - a gliding step. The most common of these glissades, and there are many of them, starts in fifth position demi-plié and extending the foot to the direction desired to be traveled, with the toes of the extended foot just off the floor. Then there is a transfer of weight with a slight(!) jump, and in many dancers you can see a moment when they are seemingly suspended in air in second or fourth position sur les pointes, but it's transitory. The feet then close to fifth again and the next step goes on from there. Giselle and Albrecht do a series of glissades, one after another just before she sits down at the bench and the "flower" mime ensues. Glissades can go from side to side, forward, backward, with change, without change, and in all sorts of varieties, but I have a feeling from the first Step of the Week, we'll discuss them all further on in this thread. :)

Here's a perfectly serviceable glissade by Veronica Lynn of ABT:

http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/te...s/glissade.html

Flashy it ain't, but it's sure necessary! Extra points for all you technical mavens out there who can find little problems with this one. Hint: proceed frame by frame. Bear in mind, that the dancer may be moving a bit faster than the camera shutter.

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This is just a guess, but I didn't care for how she appeared to hop from one foot to the other; I am used to seeing more punctuated air time, if that makes sense. Both legs together in the air for a longer amount of time. :yes:

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That's right, there are accented glissades, some on the dégagé, some in the air, and some have a DOWN accent on the landing, but this is a pretty simple plain-vanilla glissade dessous (under). Anybody else see anything?

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Is it the arms? She sort of flaps them up and down.

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If that were happening in my class, I just might call her on breaking the elbows just a bit too much on the way down, but maybe not, too. I've seen Ms. Lynn onstage, and know that she's absolutely capable of a perfect academic glissade. Other takers? Students? (Mind you, I have an ulterior, but not sinister, motive here.)

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Mr. Mel, could it be that when she starts her glissade, she is not fullly "brushing" the floor with her right foot?

Although I would LOVE my glissades to look like this...It appears to me that she is lifting her heel at the very end of her demi-plie.

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Second, and final, attempt:

The description says:

The other foot then pushes away from the floor so that both knees are straight and both feet strongly pointed for a moment

But here, both feet are pointed for just one frame, and the right one less strongly than the left in preparation for landing. It looks as though she is never completely "airborne"; the right foot lands immediately after the left leaves the floor. As you say, however, she appears to be dancing faster than the shutter speed, and we do not know what happens in between frames.

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But here, both feet are pointed for just one frame, and the right one less strongly than the left in preparation for landing.

:) Ugh! The killer part of the step.

The whole while I was dancing my greatest ambition was not consistent double pirouettes to both sides, shoulder-height extension or a correct arabesque. It was a perfect glissade -- that most elusive achievement of all. :)

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Sylphide, I'm with you -- as I went frame by frame it jumped out at me (no pun intended)

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You are all correct about the lifted heel. If you don't go frame by frame, you're likely not to see it. It's a tiny, tiny detail, but what I'm doing is what your teachers do: I'm setting the bar one level higher than what I see. That's my ulterior, but not sinister, motive. It's the way teachers get improvements out of students - even very most advanced ones. :)

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Some glissades can be done from side to side and not change feet. These are the glissades devant, and derrière. The former one starts by extending the front foot in fifth position and traveling to the side, ending with the same foot in front. The latter is done by extending the back foot from fifth, traveling to the side and ending with the same foot in back!

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The arm movements vary in the various types of glissades shown on the ABT site.

The forward and backward steps kept the arms nearly motionless while the other directions had noticeable arm movements. Why is this?

Cliff

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Cliff, arms in glissades can go every which way. My guess is that the ballet master supervising the shoot wanted the ones done from side to side to have a sort of parallelism between the arms and the legs. Usually a plain-vanilla glissade is done with bras bas, but here, the glissade is THE step.

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Now, with that brought up, glissades can go forward (en avant) and backwards (en arrière), too. Note the difference between devant, and en avant.

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This may be a little off the path. However, I used the "linking step" analogy to one of my voice students who was having trouble yesterday with what we in the voice world like to call "Money Notes" aka high notes. She was tensing up completely on the high notes, however the tension didn't start on the high note, it started on the lower notes previous. She is also a dancer, so I pulled out how important the somewhat "simple" linking steps are for whatever follows in ballet...same as all the notes leading up to the high notes. When she shifted her focus on the notes leading up to the high note, cleaned those up; the high notes floated out of her with ease.

Anyway, I apologize if I have strayed. I just wanted you to know how important the information is that I've learned here and how invaluable I have found it in relating to my voice students who are also dancers.

Kathy

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Not a bad analogy at all! In fact, looked at from a certain perspective, the linking is a good part of what "bel canto" is all about. If you nail the various sorts of linkages, then the tops come easily! :ermm:

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Then there are the glissades that have changes of feet. A glissade dessous (under) starts with the front foot and then it ends up in back. A glissade dessus (over) starts with the back foot and then it ends up in front. This dessous/dessus business goes on a lot. I use a mnemonic to differentiate them. I can remember that a sous-chef is an assistant, or under-chef, and "sur le table" means "on (top of) the table".

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