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Misalignment


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#1 katharine kanter

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 04:17 AM

May I ask everyone to take a look at the photograph shewn at the Link (from ballet.co today) below:

http://www.thestage....0211/0206.shtml

and compare that to classical alignment.

What orthopaedists call hyper-extension, and what from the standpoint of classical dance, is a text-book form of distortion and misalignment, has now become "standard" technique.

No personal criticism is meant here of Miss Cojocaru, I would hasten to add. She is doing what her teacher taught her, and what is EXPECTED of all females today in classical dance.

[ March 20, 2002, 04:18 AM: Message edited by: katharine kanter ]

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 07:20 AM

I don't wish to be difficult, but I don't see any hyperextension in that photo. Hyperextension refers to the travel of a joint to a point past, or "in back of" straight and Ms. Cojocaru does not demonstrate that. What is seen in the photo is an extreme developpé which places the dancer in a sort of renversé carriage. I don't much care for a steady diet of it, but as punctuation, it's a valid choreographic and technical tool.

#3 Helena

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 07:42 AM

Whatever the technical definition, I do think it looks completely hideous, which is not a thing I ever expected to say about Alina Cojocaru. She looks like a circus contortionist.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 07:50 AM

The problem with still pictures is that they do not convey a context within which a given "still moment" is captured. In some places, the off-kilter placement might be quite all right, and only a moving image can capture that. But since this is Forsythe, I think I'll pass on finding out. wink.gif

#5 katharine kanter

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 09:06 AM

Mel, it's a hyper-extension of the hip joint. The hip joint is the most important joint in the entire body, it's like the attachment-point on the violin for the strings. It's the heaviest joint, by far, and the limbs that happen to be attached to the poor thing, are just not meant to be doing that.

I've been told by several sports orthopaedists that two forms of injury they commonly see among classical dancers today, are the ripping or shredding of the membrane covering the hip joint (yukkk!) and stress fractures of the hip, owing, precisely, to the sort of movement shewn in the photo.

#6 Calliope

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 10:55 AM

I think it's hard to say whether or not it's hyperextension of the hip without knowing the dancer's own kinesiological history.
I'm not sure we have any medical experts on the board, so it's dangerous to be making assumptions as to what causes injuries among dancers.
A report just last week on stress fractures in the hip of young children cited low flouride in water as a factor (and none in bottled water which is seen more and more in gyms and studios everywhere).
Every individual body is unique and we can't make blanket statements as to injury reports either.
As for the hip being the heaviest joint, that depends on what context you're looking at. For someone walking, it's the knee, for a handstand, it's the shoulders. It's a very semantic-heavy subject.

#7 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 11:08 AM

I don't see hyperextension in that photo, just extreme distortion and misalignment of the entire torso and pelvis. Agree that it is not a classically attractive photo at all, however, as Mel said, in motion in the right context, I suppose it might be effective, if one likes Forsythe and that kind of work. frown.gif As to injury, I would think there would be much less danger in that kind of extension, because it is done by tilting the pelvis so far, than in forcing rotation and maintaining correct alignment. Not advocating tilting the pelvis here, but just saying it is probably safer if one MUST get one's leg to that extreme position. eek.gif

#8 katharine kanter

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 11:26 AM

THAT is undoubtedly the case !

#9 Odette

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 10:04 AM

It is very difficult that this 'expected of all females today in ballet'-which indeed it is. Many dancers, myself included are flexible-probably more so than most non-dancers but we are not that flexible (re.picture) and I wish to still be dancing age 50 and not have had 3 hip replacements by then!! However in class, I notice most people attempting to attain this feat of developpe up to ear regardless of pain etc. I don't want to subject my body to this but it seems now the ideal required by top ballet companies is a cross between Margot Fonteyn and a contortionist. That is all very well if you fall into this category but if you don't does it mean that you will not be able to attain a high rank, I believe so, but sincerely hope not. Is it that audiences like to see the extremes, in the past I believe many great ballerinas had relatively low extension, yet still are regarded as great. In class people with relatively low extension are pulled up for destroying the line of the corps, but many of these are talented-are we to be locked in the back row because we can't or won't(even though it is a vocation) sacrifice our bodies in these extreme physical feats regardless of what else we can offer?

#10 Helena

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 12:25 PM

It is very interesting to hear a dancer's point of view on this, Odette. I don't myself get the impression that it is what audiences want to see - at least, not in Britain. Story ballets still sell best, and I do not believe that people book for Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle or even Nutcracker because they are hoping to see amazing feats. They go to be moved and transported. Even in plotless works I think it is beauty that people want to see. It is of course possible that I am out of date on this. I am of an older generation, as is (by her own admission!) Katharine Kanter who started this thread. I am afraid that if a lot of publicity is given to the "desirablity" of contortions, people will gradually start to believe that they are what matter, and ballet as I know and love it will gradually be replaced.

I am reminded of the publicity given to Nureyev's elevation, mostly by ignorant journalists. When he did his tragic farewell tour in the 80s people asked for their money back because "he never left the ground". I was stupefied that people went to see that great artist in order to see him jump (impressive though that was when he was young).

It is very sad if good, expressive artists are indeed languishing (if you can call it that - I'd have killed, almost, to be in the back row) in the corps. I suppose it all depends on directors and choreographers.

There are not many Alina Cojocarus - let's not destroy the ones we have. Imagine what we would have lost if Fonteyn had stopped dancing when she was 25 or 30 - all her best years were after that. But then, given a director who wanted acrobatics, she would never have emerged from the corps in the first place.

[ March 22, 2002, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Helena ]

#11 dmdance

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 01:50 PM

I suppose that my opinion depends upon the context. Contortion-like extension does not bother me in a contemporary piece. Afterall, much of contemporary compostition is based on exploring new and varying motion in the body. Fine. Just don't include it in a classical ballet and/or don't call it ballet. So many ballets were created to show beauty and harmony. Ballet is about line and artistry, not athletic competition. Or so I thought. I realize that simply to acheive most classical lines requires a highly athletic body. But let us preserve those classical lines as the true artform that has been a tradition for hundreds of years.
It seems I am rambling, but I get frustrated too as a teacher. Some of my most talented students, I fear, will be held back from the best opportunities because they do not give themselves a nosebleed with every grand battement.
Lastly, is it possible that like many trends, this trend is cyclical? Could the pendulum swing back.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 03:21 PM

All of these comments have been very interesting -- and informative. I wanted to reply to dmdance's last question -- is it cyclical?

We can't know yet, of course, but if one looks back at history, it does seem to be cyclical -- or a pendulum, depending on one's theory. Mine is (not original to me, of course) that when something goes as far as it can in one direction, it has to go back because there's nowhere else for it to go.

I think every burst of creative energy -- the early court ballets, the grand mythological ballets, the Romantic Era, Petipa's post-Romantic (or late Romantic, depending how you see it) work, the Diaghilev Ballet Russe, and on and on begin very strongly, establish a strong, original voice which becomes a formula. When the formula is exhausted, attention turns to sonmething else.

Dance has stood still before -- the Judson Church movement in modern dance, all about found movement, minimalism -- I can remember when it was news that Lucinda Child added a third step to her vocabulary (!!!) -- all of that came after the Graham-style grand epics had gone through most of Greek literature and mythology and a good chunk of American history. Is it that people want something new? (I think not. Balanchine's formula lasted a long time, as did Bournonville's and Petipa's. I think people will be entertained by a formula as long as its inventor keeps inventing and entertaining.) Or is it that a new inventor comes along with something so astounding that all attention is diverted there (gets my vote)?

As far as technique goes, the hyperextended line, the high kicks, the gazillion turns -- unless they just go for it and put roller bearings in the pointe shoe, which has also been done, though not on a regular basis, and not in "Swan Lake" -- I think this will be stopped when a beautiful young dancer whose classical purity is so breathtaking, her dancing set off in a work that deserves it, will make us all catch our breaths again and everything else will seem tawdry.

I cling to the stories that when Taglioni (just such a dancer) came onto the scene, everyone new to the Theatre -- the young people that the new movement brought in -- were ecstatic and celebrated her as the symbol of her age, while their grandfather's said, "Ah! She's just like Bigatoni" -- a dancer long out of fashion.

I think, too, it will help when we have choreographers who are actually interested in the classical vocabulary. I really do think that's beginning.

#13 LMCtech

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 08:44 PM

I don't think the teacher asked for that. I think the choreographer did, and he had the right to because he was the choreographer. A dancer is trained to give the choreographer what they ask for, which this dancer did. That makes her a good dancer. And a versatile dancer, that choreographers will want to use, because she can give them what they want.

I think I'm talking in circles. I'll stop now.


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