Posted 28 April 2006 - 04:44 PM
Sorry to be coming in on this discussion so late, but I actually didn't know that drb had started this thread till today--
I guess maybe the "view new posts" function isn't showing ALL the new posts? Because I've kinda been looking for a thread since I suggested it to drb after he queried me directly as to what I meant when I wrote that..... As I suspected would hapen, you all have said a lot of interesting things.
It's curious to see what looks like a divide between the Soviet school (Hans-- please forgive me for caricaturing you thus) and the American school. Of course under the Soviets there would be no room for play in an issue like being on your leg -- you can't be heroic without it, though you CAN be "cool" without it. SO much of the American style is based on "take a chance" musicality that comes from jazz, which requires finding your alignment by swinging the bones into place rather than "total placement anxiety." Under Balanchine, a dancer like Stephanie Saland could get all the way to the top without really having a solid standing leg. Like Leigh and Carbro and the other Balanchine-school dance-students, I think of "on your leg" as a relative thing. Some dancers can't be knocked off their legs, and Cynthia Gregory I think took that to the point of bad taste.
Farrell is my favorite example of a dancer who knows how to stay cool while daring to be off her leg, and she and Mr B experimented with what she could do -- and Hans is probably right in that she COULD have been on her leg if the choreography had called for that. My SECOND-favorite, though, is Russian, Marina Semyonova, whose White Swan variation ("Magic of the Bolshoi") deserves study by everybody who cares about ballet, for she sails through it with absorbed poetic delicacy while never being on her leg once. The double ronde de jambes, the tiny bourrees, all of it, she's never quite up on it and it doesn't bother her, she keeps on dancing. it's just fabulous dancing.
lt seems that like everybody who's posting on this subject has taken at least ten years of ballet, but maybe some people are reading it who don't think they are familiar with the feeling of being on your leg. But in fact it's something we've all known, we were all infants once and all learned to sit up, to stand, and to take our first steps.
"On your leg' is what dancers call it when your alignment is perfect and youre fabulously on your balance -- it's a combination of having the bones aligned properly and the right muscles holding. it's a visible thing, since the confidence it gives you can make your turns much more relaxed, your balances calm and long-lasting.... It's basically the same thing that children are looking for when they first learn to stand and walk, stability, so everybody has experienced it looking for it....
But some dancers' personalities (Saland comes to mind, also Ferri) or musicality are so strong that their imagination can over-ride a less-than-solid technique and create an image that holds up for us....
Sorry, I've kinda overstated this -- I don't have time right now to go back through and nuance it....