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BalletNut

Name that step...

11 posts in this topic

...actually, it's an arm position. Here is a picture of Melissa Hayden: http://balletbookstore.com/ballerina/pic/hayden03.jpg

So my question is, is there a name for the position of her arms, where one hand appears to be almost touching the shoulder, bent at the elbow? I've seen this a lot, for example, in the Bluebird pdd from Sleeping Beauty, but have no idea what it's called.

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It's not an academic position. I don't think it has a Real Name, although some ballet masters may have a nickname for it, and maybe some folks will post some here.

Nice pic, though. Thanks for linking to it, BN!

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this hand-to-shoulder position has often intrigued me too.

it can be used to help beginning dance students, when it's taken by both arms w/ elbows out so each hand touches its respective shoulder, to help guide the spotting for, say chaine turns, but it also has various 'meanings' in different 'schools' of technique and/or in various choreographic contexts, as this post makes note.

as for naming these things, i was told balanchine's answer to various queries for one move/step/pose or another, sometimes went as follows: is not school; is choreography.

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Beautiful picture -- thanks for the link.

I've heard that positon called "romantic port de bras" -- Nureyev used to put his hand there in the solo from Corsaire, and it was a gorgeous line.

Mel will have a better answer than this, but till he weighs in, this is what I know.

The position is used in Cecchetti class; and Merce Cunningham uses it in training as well. As RG noted, it sets up the shoulders very well and helps teach how to use the shoulders for turning. Brynar Mehl used to have us do tendus with the hand on the shoulder.

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I've only heard it given a name by one old Russian teacher, and one who'd studied in France with an old Russian ballerina. They just used a description, but it fits, "main à l'épaule" but that's what it is, all right!

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I've seen this photo before. Somewhere. Anyone have an idea of whether it's from a ballet (if so, which?) or a studio pose?

P.S. Hayden's effect on me during my teen years in the NYCB City Center audience played a big role in making me a life-long ballet lover.

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Hey Paul, I remember one teacher, when using it in the classroom as a teaching device, insist upon the elbows being raised higher than in the photo... does that jive with your experience of it in class? I don't quite feel it as setting up the back as well if they're dropped, though it certainly has a different choreographic effect.

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When I've had to do it in class, the correction was that the upper arms had to be parallel to the floor. :wink: That engages the back. Drooping does nothing, even if it has certain expressive value.

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Humerus parallel to the floor, definitely.

Except in Cunningham, where they also put the hand on the shoulder and then do shoulder circles -- it's part of "the back series" -- it feels REALLY good, it's a great way to open up the clavicle and get the shoulders off the neck

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point well made by amy.

the position for the hayden portrait seems more pose, as in a graceful 'attitude' of the arm, than a prescribed positioning from some choreographic moment.

the elbow-straight-out 'classroom' position is much more 'severe' and/or 'clinical' in its way and its purpose.

still this 'main a l'epaule' must come from somewhere specific, at some time, in some 'school' of ballet, etc.

if mem. serves isn't there a similarly posed photo of fonteyn? perhaps hayden was taking her pose from that photo?

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Also I have seen that arm position in the male variation from "Bayadere" in the DVD "Bolshoi at the park". I was intrigued, as I had thought it was not fitted to Bayadere.......

:)

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