Hypermobility in Ballet
Posted 13 July 2005 - 03:54 PM
indeed, and let me add Mr. Batalov to the list.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 02:29 AM
The much vaunted Pavlenko does have something her contemporise do not, and that is dramatic ability. In certain roles she is impressive, but after seeing her Swan Lake, I can only say that nothing would induce me to watch it again. I think the photo of her says it all.
My local osteopath is rather famous in the dance world and when I go to her for treatment we talk non-stop about ballet while she is working on me. "What", I once asked her, "do you think of 6 o'clock extensions?" She replied dryly: "well, they do provide me with a great deal of work....."
So you see they aren't just hideous to look at, they're actually potentially harmful to perform.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 05:13 AM
wherein she is asked about her extension:
I remember reading that and initially thinking 'well, then'....
This thread is interesting as I've just come from a long discussion with my new ballet teacher about extension (and my lack thereof, in today's standards), and have also been having an email conversation about it with my former teachers, who see the 'Guillem effect' and, to some extent, the need to train their dancers and promote their flexibility if the dancers are going to be competitive in today's world... The key point being about training - so that flexibility is not hyper, beyond control, and without placement, artistry, etc... and doesn't compromise strength. All this as just a long-winded approach to say that I wish some other young dancers out there were reading this - so much is made of the 'impressive' factor that often all other factors are put to the side. I've seen this a lot by teachers themselves....
Thank you, Hans, for starting this topic.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 07:54 AM
Extreme extensions have nothing to do with ballet technique, and the Kirov's promotion of such dancers is like an opera company hiring only sopranos who shriek the "Konigen F" every chance they get. Lully did not write extremely high notes, and Mozart used them sparingly, for a particular effect. In bel canto opera, there isn't much in terms of vocal display that is too vulgar. Opera singers know this, and they will not distort early Baroque music but understand that they have more freedom in bel canto.
A similar idea applies to high extensions IMO, which can be a very effective technical tool when used properly. By all means kick yourself in the head during Rubies, but use developpés of about 100º or so to show Giselle's frailty (and to be historically appropriate). No one will ever again move the way Taglioni did, but that's no reason not to respect the history of a ballet.
For a look at what the younger generation thinks of Zakharova, take a look at this thread on Ballet Talk for Dancers.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 08:25 AM
But if developing this single trick leads to weaknesses and inadequacies in other aspects of dancing -- as Hans suggests -- it's more dangerous than I thought.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 11:51 AM
I also have to say that I derive a lot of pleasure from seeing a just-above-90º extension that is turned out with the hips properly placed. Carla Fracci didn't raise her legs high in La Sylphide (and not because she couldn't) yet her line is beautiful far beyond anything a contortionist could produce.
Returning to Sylvie Guillem, she is not a great dancer because of her extension, even though she is famous for it. Every ballet company in the world has at least one dancer who can raise her (or even his, as carbro has reminded us) legs just as high, yet Guillem still stands out above them because of the intelligence and quality of her work.
Wow, I never thought I'd actually be defending Sylvie Guillem! I do not enjoy watching her dance because I don't think she connects with the audience emotionally, but I do think she deserves to be recognized as a very interesting and special talent.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 01:21 PM
Hans, on Jul 14 2005, 10:54 AM, said:
Posted 14 July 2005 - 01:22 PM
Hypermobility is actually a medical term.
Connective tissue proteins such as collagen give the body its intrinsic toughness. Joints exist where a bone meets a bone, and they are connected by muscle and/or tendons and/or ligaments. When one of the connective structures are looser, more fragile than normal, or just more elastic than they should be, the joints will be "hypermobile," and the joint angle formed at full extension is greater than normal. The extention is beyond what is considered the normal "limits" of the joint. For some it leaves the joint vulnerable to injury. For others it allows for natural hyperextension or greater "flexability." However, even from a medical standpoint "more" is not "better." In ballet dancers this can be seen especially at the knee, elbow, and hip joints. Sometimes also the back. They are more "bendable" than average (the joints/ the dancers.) Some dancers are naturally hypermobile. Some stretch their joints repeatedly to break down the collegen and try to achieve more mobility ...at a greater cost.
Posted 14 July 2005 - 05:02 PM
Wasn't Guillen a serious gymnastics student till she began ballet? And didn't she start ballet a little later than most?
If so, that would pull the Pilobolus comment right back up there into prominence, wouldn't it?
Posted 15 July 2005 - 11:10 AM
Guillem was indeed a gymnast before she danced, and I think she started at POBS around age 12-13. But the difference is that she is a ballet dancer, and Pilobolus isn't a ballet company.
Posted 15 July 2005 - 12:03 PM
Hans, on Jul 13 2005, 06:42 PM, said:
Hans, yes I think so too. When I first started to go to ballet, me and my friends would watch Allegra Kent and in our obnoxious teenage way say "She could stick her toe into her ear"
You can see this(not the toe-ear thing though!) in some of the clips of Kent, most recently I was playing Dancing for Mr B and you can see these kinds of extensions, in the Symphony in C clips.
Although I followed her career much less closely, when Mimi Paul left NYCB to move to ABT (late 60s? 1970?) , she also had very extreme extensions, at least as far as I remember. People would tell her "you're overstretched"
In a sense they were looked at as something atypical.
Strangely, on some of the Bolshoi tours of that era we stated to see that kind of thing from them too. Again, a memory, when I first saw Pavlova, I thought "isn't this harmful?" It's funny how we didn't make the association with the American ballerinas, I guess they must have used them in different ways.
Syvie was still a tiny girl at this point
I guess the jury is still out on at , at last stylistically
Posted 15 July 2005 - 03:00 PM
Posted 15 July 2005 - 03:19 PM
I think these would make it difficult to become a professional dancer.
Posted 15 July 2005 - 04:47 PM
Edited by carbro, 15 July 2005 - 05:39 PM.
Posted 15 July 2005 - 07:03 PM
Aside from the crotch-splitting extensions (including a 6:00 penchee in Giselle), here are some lovely pictures of the National Ballet of Cuba. I wonder if it's a matter of coaching and if this extreme flexibility is encouraged...?
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