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The Russian Back


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44 replies to this topic

Poll: Do you like the "Russian back"? (40 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you like the "Russian back"?

  1. Yes, I think it looks beautiful, graceful, and sensuous. (38 votes [95.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 95.00%

  2. No, I think it looks kind of weird. (2 votes [5.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.00%

Vote

#16 canbelto

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 03:58 PM

With Whelan's photo, you can see that she has bent backwards at a rather sharp angle, but that her actual spine is straight.

Contrast this with Irina Dvorovenko, whose also bent backwards at an extremely sharp angle. But her entire spine is curved. This is what I'm talking about -- most ballerinas have a supple back, but the Russian-trained ballerinas have that curved spine that, as I said, resembles a crescent moon.

More comparisons of the same position:

Darcey Bussell

with

Sylvie Guillem

with

Olesia Novikova

All similar positions, but you can see how Bussell and Guillem essentially keep their spines straight, while Novikova's has a strong arch.

And carbro, my dog certainly adopts that posture, along with huge sad eyes, that scream, "I love you, I adore you, and I'd love you that much more if you gave me a bite of that steak." :wink:
Don't believe me. Look here.

#17 carbro

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 08:45 PM

Olesia Novikova

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

vs. Gelsey Kirkland. In all fairness, Novikova's photographer did not ask her to face the camera and smile.

And carbro, my dog certainly adopts that posture, along with huge sad eyes, that scream, "I love you, I adore you, and I'd love you that much more if you gave me a bite of that steak."  :wink:
Don't believe me. Look here.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Darling doggie, canbelto! I was referring meant the dog flat on the back, paws relaxed close in to the torso. I'll add a link if I can find such a photo.



Editing to add links: Voici!. Et viola! Obviously, the dogs' backs are not arched, but their tender undersides are exposed. That was the analogy I was trying to draw.

#18 sandik

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 09:00 PM

Olesia Novikova

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

vs. Gelsey Kirkland. In all fairness, Novikova's photographer did not ask her to face the camera and smile.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


And Novikova's image is from a performance, while Kirkland's is a studio shot.

#19 Marga

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 10:10 PM

Part of the mystique comes from the Russian training of the back at the barre. The cambré must first lift up and then back, over an imaginary bar or plank (sometimes imagery helps). Of course, you must be lifted well up off your legs as well. The ribcage protrusion that you see in some dancers as they do this is more a result of their particular anatomy, I think, rather than lack of strength. Here's an example of that:

Uliana Lopatkina

#20 canbelto

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 10:24 PM

I think here's a better picture to compare with Olesia Novikova:

Olesia Novikova

Gelsey Kirkland

#21 Marga

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 11:06 PM

Here is an example of differences in training. The first picture is of my own daughter when she was 13 (she's the one in front, but this was a pretty standard achievement for all the students) and at the Kirov Academy of Ballet summer intensive. Her cambré deepened even more over the next several years.

The second picture is one I found by googling "cambré" in Google Images. It's from a dance school's website somewhere in the U.S. These girls look to be at least 13 -14, too. The difference is not only in the backbend but in the fifth position. By that age, for students who aspire to dance professionally, the fifth position should be tightly closed and fully turned out. Perhaps these dancers are recreational. I am not judging them, only comparing training techniques. Also, none of these girls are lifted off their legs. It's all in the training. (Note the juxtaposition of the photo of the dancer on the studio wall.)

http://www.boomspeed...novaCambre2.jpg

http://mysite.verizo...ages/cambre.jpg

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 04:56 AM

No offense is intended, but while those pics are of a somewhat academic interest, I don't really think either is a particularly good example of any school's version of a proper cambré. Sorry. :wink:

#23 canbelto

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 09:10 AM

Thanks Marga for the pictures! I'm not able to find the picture online, but in Natalia Makarova's autobiography (which is really just a coffee table book with lots of beautiful pictures interspersed with Makarova's commentary) there's a picture of her at 13 or 14 in an arabesque, and already you can see the curvature of her spine. Makarova was admitted to the Vaganova school later than most (she was about 12) and they accepted her on an "experimental" program, so she couldn;t have been at the Academy for more than a year when they took the picture. So obviously it is a sharp difference in training.

But can anyone tell me ... when did this "trend" start? Maya Plisetskaya was the first ballerina where I could really notice it, but it must have started earlier.

#24 carbro

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 12:36 PM

Check Danilova. Not in Plisetskaya's league, but suggests trained flexibility.

The Lopatkina photo Marga cited is, to me, a nanometer away from being grotesque. :thanks: It passes muster only because this is clearly an allegro passage.

#25 richard53dog

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:07 PM

Check Danilova.  Not in Plisetskaya's league, but suggests trained flexibility.

The Lopatkina photo Marga cited is, to me, a nanometer away from being grotesque. :thanks:  It passes muster only because this is clearly an allegro passage.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


With all the ice skating I've been watching , at a quick glance I thought it was a skater going into a Beilman!

Richard

#26 Hans

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 03:25 PM

Many of these photos have served to remind me of what the Russian back is not--perpetually bent into a pretzel. Canbelto's point, as I understand it, is not an extreme position, but a continuous curve that appears in even the slightest bend. For example:

Alla Sizova 1
Alla Sizova 2

Compare with:

Alicia Alonso

and

Maria Tallchief

#27 canbelto

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 03:32 PM

Hans, I found another good example of how the Russian back is really a continuous curve that permeates into so many positions:

Maya Dumchenko

I also found an early example of the Russian back:

The beautiful Alla Shelest

#28 Ostrich

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 06:15 AM

And here's another comparison. Somewhat same positions, but look at the back:

Alina Cojocaru


What a charming picture of Cojocaru, Canbelto! Are there any more pictures of her on that website? (Tried to find some, but couldn't even find the one you posted this link to)

#29 canbelto

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 09:48 AM

What a charming picture of Cojocaru, Canbelto! Are there any more pictures of her on that website? (Tried to find some, but couldn't even find the one you posted this link to)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, there are. They are lovely.

:thanks:

#30 Ostrich

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 12:33 PM

Oh thank you, THANK YOU, THA-A-ANK you!!


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