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Epaulement: where's it gone? who still has it?


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41 replies to this topic

#31 sandik

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 02:33 PM

My apologies for repling to myself, but I've just come across a review, by Alastair Macaulay, of the Royal's Peter Wright production of Giselle (Times Lliterary Supplement, 5/16/06, not online).

It gives an example of epaulement gone very much awry.


A friend saved this article out for me, and I recommend looking for it -- it has a great discussion of equity in male/female dancing roles in the romatic repertoire, and a very interesing analysis of dance as a metaphor in Giselle -- Mcaulay is an extremely thoughtful writer.

#32 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 04:31 PM

Anton Dolin was rather loose with the giving of permissions to stage "Pas de Quatre". If you paid your money and said that you knew it, you could pretty much have a free hand in staging it. One stager had a vision of Romanticism which included some pretty exaggerated epaulement. I felt distinctly seasick watching it.

#33 Helene

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 07:31 PM

Someone who possessed among the most extraordinary epaulement I've ever seen was not a dancer but a figure skater, John Curry. What I think is a masterwork in any medium, his Afternoon of a Faun, which Norman Maen choreographed for Curry and Cathy Foulkes, a dancer with Boston Ballet, shows this. It was broadcast in full for TV in a program called "John Curry's Ice Dancing," and was excerpted in part 3 of a four-part BBC bio of Curry.

#34 Paul Parish

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 08:59 AM

Has anybody else been noticing the epaulement iamong soccer players in the World Cup?

I/e., some of the teams play with a very controlled boxy torso, and others really work the body in spirals--

Last week I saw a player kick the ball in sideways from the corner, and he actually used his head as a counterweight to the leg -- as the foot kicked across his body in one direction, he took his head in the other direction, which allowed for a tremendous follow-through with hte leg.

I think that was a Swede -- though generally it's the Europeans who play squarer, and the South Americans who play with more across-the-body spiralling.... or it seems that way to me....

#35 canbelto

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 01:09 PM

Again, a bit off-topic, but my dad, a figure skating fan, claims that he can pick the winners of competitions simply from the way they skate out on the ice, especially for pairs and ice dance. He says that the way they hold their arms and back and head says everything he needs to know about them as skaters. Considering his astonishing ability to pick winners, I'd say maybe he has a point. :)

#36 Anne74

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 01:16 PM

I remember reading something about John Curry once which explained that he'd had a lot of ballet training and really emphasized the importance of movement quality in the skaters he trained himself. You really, really can see the difference between ice skaters who have a serious ballet background and those who don't, or who have only limited training. Katherine Healy is a great example. When she went back to professional skating after her ballet career, saw her in a pro exhibition doing gorgeous, gorgeous stuff--- incredible lines and positions-- that the crowd went wild for. Not a jump in her entire routine, but it clearly didn't matter to the audience!

#37 carbro

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 06:49 PM

I had the great privilege and pleasure of taking two adult classes from Gelsey Kirkland. Her corrections of our collective upper bodies was to "open your heart," which she explained (less poetically)as imagining each nipple pointing diagonally outwards. One of the striking features of Gelsey was the openness of her chest. Sarah Lane shares this quality.

When we see a dancer with an "open heart," we are drawn to her. First, there is no tension in the upper chest and shoulders. Second, the dancer is emotionally accessible. It may be a posture adopted (consciously or not) by ambitious politicians! The Royal Ballet's easy, open epaulement was one of the sweet satisfactions of their Beauty at Ken Ctr.

I just found this wonderful example of Alexandra Danilova's epaulement. (Thanks for posting it on your blog, atm!) As the final pose, it may be exaggerated for effect, but how luscious! Remember the "epaulement" lesson she gave Leslie Browne in The Turning Pointe? :clapping:

#38 Paul Parish

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 07:46 PM

Fabulous picture, Carbro--

Danilova had a LOT of heart. You know, she danced virtually for free; I was just reading the Ballets Russes article in Ballet Review and Windreich gives nearly a paragraph to that; Denham or de Basil actually asked her one season to dance for no salary, which I don't think she did, but she wasn't contract-savvy like Markova.

That's maybe not by-the-by.

Let me fortify the Forsythe strand from the beginning of this thread; when SFB was dancing Artifact Suite here a little while back, the epaulement was THAT most noticeable thing about it -- incredible spirals they were all doing, esp the young corps girls, who looked like it was the first time all year they'd been encouraged to dance up to full scale. it was like they were using it to locate and immediatley RElocate their centers, and as they swung into new positions they looked like they were getting stronger and stronger. It put me in mind of the tempering of a rapier, the more flexible they got the stronger they got. It was very physical, and very visible. Lily Rogers and Rory Hohenstein took it to the point where they seemed to be so powerfully dancing from the center, they didn't have to be standing on the ground but could just as well have been upside-down....

#39 terpsicoeur

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 08:09 PM

A very interesting discussion which gives me a bit more insight into that ineffable quality some dancers have, and I never know whether to describe it as epaulement or port de bras, but it is a magical way of moving that just rivets my attention. Two dancers have particularly struck me as "having it" -- Yuan Yuan Tan with SF Ballet and the much-missed Alicia Graf with Alvin Ailey. Both have long slender lines and a fluid upper body movement that just seems so into the moment. It particularly shines in their adagio work and I find it exquisitely, heartbreakingly beautiful.

#40 4mrdncr

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 09:54 PM

I must have been taught epaulement very early in my training because I never remember having to think about it, and never remember being correctly "placed". I just did it. And loved doing it. And yes, I do remember it had a lot to do with torsion and tension, efface/croise, shoulders, eyelines/chinlines, AND extending line. From my reading of this thread, I also agree with most posters concerning which schools taught it, and which didn't. I experienced the same thing. (It's probably why I was never that comfortable doing Balanchine. Today, if I love NYCB, it's not because of their epaulement.)

RE: ABT
After being away from viewing ballets for almost ten years, when I finally was able to see live performances again, I started analysing what I saw at ABT, especially its vaunted male dancers. (I was still familiar with its female principals, most of whom had been at ABT for ten years or more.) And then I started analysing one dancer, trying to see what he did, how he did it, and why I noticed. (I was very reluctant to follow the crowd, and wanted to understand the appeal.) I was not impressed by multiple turns or a high jump (I'd seen Baryshnikov and others past and present with same or similar abilities) or any other fine matters of technique I expected of a principal dancer. No, what I discovered was that Angel Corella had the most beautiful epaulement I'd seen in many years. Even if other areas of technique relax or fail, his epaulement never does. If he teaches anything to his new company I hope it's that.

eg. Gene Schiavone's two photos of the same ABT Swan Lake Act2 pdd penche. In one is David Hallberg, in the other Angel Corella. Both are beautiful images of correctly placed dancers, but the epaulement is very different. You can see that same epaulement in Nancy Ellison's photo of the same pose in her ABT 'coffee table book'--actually I think it's a better pic since it's caught at the end, rather than middle, of the movement. I'll try to give another photo example if I can from photographer Jesus Vallinas took of Bayadere later.

http://www.geneschia...AJ0254.jpg.html
http://www.geneschia...proved.jpg.html

#41 carbro

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 10:16 PM

If the work is displayed on the artist's or distributor's own site, it's safe to assume linking is fine. Otherwise, they wouldn't make the works available to view. I was unsure whether the photo I found of Corella was the one you had in mind, and couldn't find any photos of Hallberg in a similar pose.

#42 4mrdncr

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 10:49 PM

If the work is displayed on the artist's or distributor's own site, it's safe to assume linking is fine. Otherwise, they wouldn't make the works available to view. I was unsure whether the photo I found of Corella was the one you had in mind, and couldn't find any photos of Hallberg in a similar pose.


You're right, I was able to do the links ok. (See my above post, where I added them.)


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