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Rose Adagio balances

The Rose Adagio balances   84 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it necessary for Auroras to make the "crown" 5th position over their heads?

    • Yes - an Aurora who can't hold the balances shouldn't dance Aurora
      54
    • No - it's only 5 minutes out of a 2 hour ballet
      15
    • I don't care either way
      15

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131 posts in this topic

Novikova video currently available

I saw Kolpakova do the Rose Adagio in NY as part of a mixed bill. She was beautiful and did the balances.

Very nice to see this next to the Gregory video -- lots of differences in approach and style to think about!

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Legend has it that the arms in fifth position during the balances was started by Margot Fonteyn; she certainly was more than capable of it, that's for sure!

Roland John Wiley's description of the Petipa Rose Adagio doesn't say that Aurora puts her arms in fifth when she's transferred from prince to prince. Now I don't know if the Rose Adagio is one of the many dances where there are no arm movements notated, nor do I remember if any of the reviews of the 1890 première state that Carlotta Brianza did the fifth arm position during the attitude balances, I'll have to check that.

But either way, I think it's fair to say that what the ballerina does with her arms during the balances is optional.

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But either way, I think it's fair to say that what the ballerina does with her arms during the balances is optional.

As long as they don't flap wildly in attempt to stay on balance. happy.png

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As long as they don't flap wildly in attempt to stay on balance. happy.png

Yes absolutely! Luckily for me, I've yet to see that happen! Lol!

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The thing about balance is that if you have a knack for finding your balance/finding your center I think the arms in 5th is not necessarily better than simply passing the arm to the next cavalier without putting the arms up in 5th (many Russians do not put the arms in 5th, although some do). I know yoga is not the same as ballet, but as a yoga practitioner I have better than average balance and can go into tree pose and often hold it forever and even sway arms and torso back and forth (swaying tree pose). It is hard to explain, but if you find your center of gravity you can move the arms almost anyway and all over the place and not fall out. So just putting the arms above your head does not make it more difficult unless you let moving the arms up distract you or make you worry about your balance.

Now, in contrast, the way the ballerinas in Cuba hop backwards and throw their arms above and behind them in the black swan coda......now THAT is, in my opinion, a truly exciting balancing act, b/c moving backwards and throwing your arms back forcefully could easily make someone fall out or lose balance, in my opinion (too many distractions to your balance). But simply raising arms above your head is not really more difficult than keeping them in a handshake position. If a person has good balance I do not believe raising arms in 5th makes it more difficult.

I suppose any little thing could potentially cause a person to lose his/her balance, but the simple act of raising arms into 5th should not really cause a ballerina to fall out. I think the arms in 5th is probably more impressive to the audience as a "show" b/c it gives the illusion of being more difficult, but I can't imagine it being more difficult from my experience of body movement.

But ask me to hop backwards on one leg and fling my arms back......I would probably fall out......raising arms in 5th, in contrast, is no big deal at all.....

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The thing about balance is that if you have a knack for finding your balance/finding your center I think the arms in 5th is not necessarily better than simply passing the arm to the next cavalier without putting the arms up in 5th (many Russians do not put the arms in 5th, although some do). I know yoga is not the same as ballet, but as a yoga practitioner I have better than average balance and can go into tree pose and often hold it forever and even sway arms and torso back and forth (swaying tree pose). It is hard to explain, but if you find your center of gravity you can move the arms almost anyway and all over the place and not fall out. So just putting the arms above your head does not make it more difficult unless you let moving the arms up distract you or make you worry about your balance.

Now, in contrast, the way the ballerinas in Cuba hop backwards and throw their arms above and behind them in the black swan coda......now THAT is, in my opinion, a truly exciting balancing act, b/c moving backwards and throwing your arms back forcefully could easily make someone fall out or lose balance, in my opinion (too many distractions to your balance). But simply raising arms above your head is not really more difficult than keeping them in a handshake position. If a person has good balance I do not believe raising arms in 5th makes it more difficult.

I suppose any little thing could potentially cause a person to lose his/her balance, but the simple act of raising arms into 5th should not really cause a ballerina to fall out. I think the arms in 5th is probably more impressive to the audience as a "show" b/c it gives the illusion of being more difficult, but I can't imagine it being more difficult from my experience of body movement.

But ask me to hop backwards on one leg and fling my arms back......I would probably fall out......raising arms in 5th, in contrast, is no big deal at all.....

Agreed. Also, when a dancer is "on her leg" and is centered, she should be able to move her arms to fifth without any distortion or unease. The upper back will help her in this and support the move. Some dancers seem also to have an "inner gyroscope" that allows them to retain balance with ease.

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If I'm not mistaken the raising the arms in fifth started with Mathilde Kscessinskaya who had wonderful balances and wanted to show them off.

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To me, the importance of raising the arms to 5th is not in the situation in which the ballerina is in balance and the raising of the arms might throw her off, but rather in the situation in which a ballerina is somewhat off balance from the moment she releases the cavalier's hand. The time to grab the next cavalier's hand is far shorter without going to 5th. Indeed, I think one could never be in balance and still grab that next hand if it were placed close enough. I have seen the next cavalier place his hand so close to the current cavalier's hand that the ballerina only has to move her hand 6 inches to grab it. The power of going to 5th, is that all such "safety valves" have to be foregone.

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If I'm not mistaken the raising the arms in fifth started with Mathilde Kscessinskaya who had wonderful balances and wanted to show them off.

Really? To be honest, that certainly sounds like Kschessinskaya, where did you hear that?

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To me, the importance of raising the arms to 5th is not in the situation in which the ballerina is in balance and the raising of the arms might throw her off, but rather in the situation in which a ballerina is somewhat off balance from the moment she releases the cavalier's hand. The time to grab the next cavalier's hand is far shorter without going to 5th. Indeed, I think one could never be in balance and still grab that next hand if it were placed close enough. I have seen the next cavalier place his hand so close to the current cavalier's hand that the ballerina only has to move her hand 6 inches to grab it. The power of going to 5th, is that all such "safety valves" have to be foregone.

I think it is probably a "mental" thing caused by nervousness. Granted I tested this without an audience and without being on pointe, but I just got into tree pose, found my balance and giving my hand to 10 or 20 or 30 cavaliers by simply moving my hand to the next imaginary one or raising my arms above my head in 5th and bringing them down each time did not make any difference at all for me. Of course, I was on a flat foot. But ballerinas should be so used to being on pointe that I would think that they can easily find their balance and stay on pointe the way I can stay on one flat foot. I will say that I am sure that being on pointe and staying there is much harder than tree pose in yoga. I really do think any wobbling or fear, however, is actually caused in their minds by an expectant audience sitting there watching them. If you are balanced (found your center) and good at balancing (and all ballerinas are probably much better at finding their balance than I am), this is really smoke and mirrors. It looks incredibly hard to the audience but it really isn't to a dancer (but maybe dancers could chime in here if they have something to say), I suspect EXCEPT for their fear of messing up in front of an audience and the fear that one of the cavaliers might move their hand as she takes it and throw her off accidentally. So what I am saying is that, yes, anything can throw someone off balance (thoughts, the cavalier's hand moving, stage fright, etc), but just by itself the crowning of the head does not make the move/pose harder except for a ballerina who is freaking out about her balance already. I think the fact it is such an exposed moment. It is a static moment for the ballerina, so moving around the stage can not hide a slight mistake. She is standing still and balancing and just moving her arm.....very exposed during a very iconic moment in the ballet, and that creates nerves, b/c, yes, people can lose balance when they least expect it, but I have come to believe it is a mental thing. I don't believe moving the arm up into a crown messes the ballerina up. I think her own thoughts or fears causes it, and if she falls out putting her arms into a crown, she would also fall out simply passing her arms from one cavalier to the next because the state of mind she is in.

I think staying balanced is a weird thing. It is very mental and it is less about strength and much more about being in an almost zen moment and feeling your body find its center of gravity and just mentally staying in that place in your mind. I think I watched a video once and it showed all these Royal Ballet dancers doing zany things while balancing on one leg like drinking tea while staying balanced. They were moving their arms in many different ways. They were all rock solid as they moved their arms all over the place. However, put them in front of an audience where there are no re-takes and make it one of the "important" moments of the ballet, and THAT is what plays with their mind and causes them to worry about falling out. Not where their arms are moving.

I have given advice to people who constantly fell out of tree pose during yoga class, and I told them to stop trying to use the strength of their leg, grow tall and reach the top of their head to the sky and somehow find your center and suddenly balancing becomes incredibly easy. It is actually more about "letting go" than muscling into and holding the balance as weird as that sounds. Hard to describe, but once you find your balance it feels like nothing can throw you off except someone pushing you down. Hands and arms can move all over the place in every direction if they are well balanced.

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I think it is probably a "mental" thing caused by nervousness.

Birdsall,

I am in complete agreement with you. I wouldn't dismiss the additional challenge of being on point as easily as you do, but otherwise I agree that the challenge is mental more so than physical for the well trained and experience ballerina. For me it's that conquering of the mental challenge that is so impressive. You cataloged the pressures very well. That a ballerina can so dominate these pressures and become confident enough to go to 5th position (even if they are in balance at that moment) is, to me, a triumph of the human spirit. For some (many?) guys, quarterbacks, or wealthy self made persons, or other more worldly folks are their heros, but for this guy, it is ballet dancers that I admire most.

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Speaking from someone who has danced this ballet many times (it was a bit of signature for me and my husband) lifting the arms above the head is actually extremely difficult. It's not the final position that's hard, but the transition from first to third (Russian training, it would be 5th most everywhere else) When the arms are traveling, suddenly there is a lot more weight in front of the body, so you have to compensate, then return to the original position to balance in. Being on pointe is so different to standing flat. You can even see this when student are at a balance at the barre then told to lift their arms up. Even in soft shoes, dancers struggle. When you and hyperextended knees and big insteps, it complicates it even more. Yes mentally you have to be focused, but in that very simple movement lies a minefield. Another thing to take o to consideration, is that she is dancing with 4 different partners, all of which partner differently. When you see a dancer dancing with a new partner, adjustments are made to suit both dancers. Not so for Rose Adagio. The ballerina has to make adjustments for every partner she has. That alone can be beyond nerve wracking. I could balance all day in a secure position. But changing arms or head changes the weight, which changes where your center is. I hope that makes sense.

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Speaking from someone who has danced this ballet many times (it was a bit of signature for me and my husband) lifting the arms above the head is actually extremely difficult. It's not the final position that's hard, but the transition from first to third (Russian training, it would be 5th most everywhere else) When the arms are traveling, suddenly there is a lot more weight in front of the body, so you have to compensate, then return to the original position to balance in. Being on pointe is so different to standing flat. You can even see this when student are at a balance at the barre then told to lift their arms up. Even in soft shoes, dancers struggle. When you and hyperextended knees and big insteps, it complicates it even more. Yes mentally you have to be focused, but in that very simple movement lies a minefield. Another thing to take o to consideration, is that she is dancing with 4 different partners, all of which partner differently. When you see a dancer dancing with a new partner, adjustments are made to suit both dancers. Not so for Rose Adagio. The ballerina has to make adjustments for every partner she has. That alone can be beyond nerve wracking. I could balance all day in a secure position. But changing arms or head changes the weight, which changes where your center is. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks so much for these insights, Fraildove! I was dubious about the comparison of on-pointe balances to tree pose. What a difference between a few toes and a whole footsole!

If you've seen the new ABT Sleeping Beauty, do you have any insights on the balance on pointe with a backbend that Aurora does in the adagio of the Grand PDD? People were suggesting on the ABT forum that she's being supported by leaning in to her partner's chest during this, but that really doesn't fit with what I've seen from several different spots in the theatre. It looks to me like she really is going into a backbend while balancing on her own. This was really impressive when Sarah Lane did it in May; less so (though still impressive) from Isabella Boylston and Gillian Murphy this week -- as soon as they finished bending back, their partners began supporting them, whereas I feel like Sarah held the pose a few seconds before getting support. It was quite astonishing. Though perhaps they were all three the same and I was just particularly impressed by seeing it for the first time. But people did gasp and break into applause there for Sarah, whereas they did not for Isabella and Gillian.

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It must be different for each dancer then, because two dancers actually convinced me that it does not matter where your arms move and one of them showed me a video of the Royal Ballet dancers moving their arms every which way and even drinking tea as they balance on one leg.

Originally I voted above that Auroras SHOULD do the balances or not dance the role and I thought the 5th position for the arms was important. But after two dancers explained about balance and one showed me the Royal Ballet video on balancing and then I compared it with my experiences in yoga I decided to change my view, and I came to the conclusion that putting arms in 5th is not as important as I originally thought. They both said it is mainly a mental thing. In my above posting I did say that I have only experienced balancing with flat foot (although I have done tree rising up to tip toes as well) and pointe is probably different.

But now I wonder if it is different for each person b/c each person has a different body. Maybe some bodies are just built to balance easier than others so some have to work at balance much harder or something. No idea.

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Balance is a dynamic process, not a perfect position, and as fraildove points out, if you change part of the overall alignment, there needs to be accommodations all along the way. The dancers from the Royal are actually making those changes as they move their arms -- they are just very skilled at the process.

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I don't disagree at all that balance is a dynamic process and adjustments are made as body parts are moved. I agree that raising an arm without adjustments is a recipe for disaster. Someone who is good at balancing has a knack for adjusting constantly as body parts move without necessarily knowing what she did. I even adjust when I do tree pose in yoga and that is much simpler. I am just mainly responding to the original question at the very top of this thread, and I don't think crowning the head with fifth position is necessary or a must. Many Russian dancers do not do that (although some do), and I don't think that makes them lesser dancers. I do think the crowning of the head is pretty, and I like it, though, but I have had someone tell me that the Russians' ankles are too weak so they can't support crowning the head, and that isn't true. Two Russians who do crown the head are Novikova and Kolegova. Probably others do too. I had that in the back of my mind as I wrote what I wrote above. I think it is more mental than physical, but since it is movement, yes, there is a physical component also.

However, I still tend to think it is more mental than physical. I do not think the actual physical act of moving the arms up ALONE causes the person to fall out. I think it is the fear of all the minefields that causes the worry and the loss of balance. The fear or doubt or whatever the mind says causes the person to lose focus on where their center is as they move. Simply moving the arms up becomes worrisome b/c you have people watching you and different people partnering. I think if someone is centered and balanced and has a natural ability to adjust as he/she moves, and doesn't have the worries of what the audience is thinking (maybe in a rehearsal with just a coach and a male), the person can move the arms up without a problem or with less worries. I would be interested to know the statistics of how much wobbling occurs in a Rose Adagio during rehearsal and how much occurs in an actual performance. I suspect there is much more potential for wobbling in an actual performance and more potential for wobbling if someone you admire is watching you in a rehearsal. But alone without any eyes I bet the Rose Adagio is much easier when practicing all alone, but I can not prove this. Maybe I am wrong. Anyway, we are human beings, so an audience is immediately going to freak us out. Having 4 different partners, as Fraildove mentions, is going to freak someone out because they can actually physically cause you to lose balance if they move in an unexpected way, so that is a worry and an actual physical issue.....I do agree with that......so that is why probably dancers find the Rose Adagio a minefield. There definitely are minefields. But then you have some dancers like the Cuban dancer Viengsay Valdes who seems like she could have 100 cavaliers line up and give her their hand and maybe actually shake her hand vigorously and she would do it without wobbling or worrying. I think she actually refuses one hand from one of the suitors when she does the Rose Adagio. To me it seems like some people are better at balances than others and I believe looking inward and using intuitive senses that are really near impossible to put into words enables someone to maintain a balance. I think the wobbling and loss of balance stem from worries and fears and who wouldn't be worried when doing the Rose Adagio? So, I guess, from that perspective it is harder to raise the arms, because it is a freakier and scarier situation probably. So it is not black and white. How much is actually physical and how much is mental is hard to say, in my opinion.

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I voted 'no'. I think the crowns make the balances much more beautiful but I'd rather have a simple and secure balance rather than see the dancer struggle and wobble trying to get her hands up.

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I think style also plays a part. I'm not surprised to hear the Royal dancers find it easier. In general, also with the Cubans as seen in their turning ability, their body is much more squared off, the Russian training more open and elongated. I have always had nerves of steel, no mental inhibitions about balancing, and I promise lifting the arms, in an elongated position like Attitude efface, drastically changes your center of balance. Throw in the Russian's me preference for extreme hyperextension and you exacerbate the issue even more. You can have all the mental focus in the world, put pointe shoes on, and some days you are just going to be 'off'. I have no idea why, but even turning can be problematic on these days. It takes so much muscle control to even hold an extended position while standing en pointe, much less changing the positioning. I've never really cared either way about the arms being lifted. If a dancer is secure and on her leg, sure. But to force it when something is a little off will cause major anxiety for a ballerina. Which makes it even more difficult. I was coached in the role by both Sizova and Kolpakova, and neither one ever said it was absolutely necessary. I generally always did, and although I have some hyperextension in the knees, I don't have the incredibly high instep that can add so much instability in the leg. It bothers me somewhat that people would think it is mainly mental... Very few things in ballet are. When you have complete command of your technique, even with incredibly strong legs and feet and a very well centered body, there is so much physical mechanics going on that, yes if you loose focus it probably won't happen, but even being hyper focused just helps a little. When you add muscle fatigue, variations in pointe shoe strength, partnering differences, heck a different costume can have huge ramifications for a ballerina. The most experienced can usually deal with it or hide it fairly easily, but I really feel for the dancers who, like Sarah Lane, who have only performed this ballet 3 times since 2008. You can't even enjoy what you are doing in my opinion, thinking about everything that is needed for this role. It totally exposes any flaw in your technique, it's not so dramatic that you have a character to act out mistakes with, and you have 3 very, very different demands one each act. Of all the ballets I danced, this was the hardest for me.

One other thing about balance. Yes, in a studio setting, of course balancing becomes easier. When you are on stage, you really can't see very much toward the audience, so even the visual field changes. I've seen dancers who could balance in attitude for minutes (we timed them, I kid you not) seriously struggle on stage in just normal pas de deux, much less having 4 partners!

I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Ratmansky's new version. I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly is happening with the port de bras back that you all describing. I'm sure it is some type of counterbalance with the prince, just not sure what. Does anyone have a photo or video that I can see that is similar?

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Here's a good example of where the fetish for balances takes over and destroys the overall integrity of the dance. Awful!

(Sorry, I don't know how to embed videos right on this page. If anyone can offer tips, I'd appreciate it!)

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a good example of where the fetish for balances takes over and destroys the overall integrity of the dance. Awful!

(Sorry, I don't know how to embed videos right on this page. If anyone can offer tips, I'd appreciate it!)

Wow, that is horrible. In the last set of balances, she never takes the last suitor's hand! Haha!

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I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Ratmansky's new version. I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly is happening with the port de bras back that you all describing. I'm sure it is some type of counterbalance with the prince, just not sure what. Does anyone have a photo or video that I can see that is similar?

In the wedding pas de deux? It's a variation on what we typically see after a promenade in attitude, where Aurora balances with her back to the audience, arms overhead, then bends backward, and the prince catches her around the waist. But in Ratmansky's version she bends backward slowly, without apparent support, and the prince does not catch her until the last possible minute. This is the familiar version, to give you an idea of where it happens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gNcEeP8EmeI#t=90

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Well, I'm not sure in this run since I didn't see it, but there were several occasions when I was on balance that my partner let me start the port de bras backward with no support and catch me at the bottom of it. It was a lot of fun to do and got a lot of response from the audience which was kind of funny to us as it wasn't all that risky. In retrospect, it probably looked mighty impressive. All I remember thinking is at least I don't have to come back up

Like in the Cinderella variation cambre back! I always had a a

Partner catch me. Maybe the do employ her leaning into him, but I would bet money at least one or two of the dancers did that themselves.

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Well, I'm not sure in this run since I didn't see it, but there were several occasions when I was on balance that my partner let me start the port de bras backward with no support and catch me at the bottom of it. It was a lot of fun to do and got a lot of response from the audience which was kind of funny to us as it wasn't all that risky. In retrospect, it probably looked mighty impressive. All I remember thinking is at least I don't have to come back up

Like in the Cinderella variation cambre back! I always had a a

Partner catch me. Maybe the do employ her leaning into him, but I would bet money at least one or two of the dancers did that themselves.

Yes, I sat in two different spots in the theatre (orchestra balance, with a pretty good view into the space between the two dancers, and front of dress circle), and from where I was it did not look like either Sarah or Gillian could have been leaning into their partners. I'm less sure for Isabella. It was a slow, steady backbend that was especially impressive from Sarah, as her partner seemed to let her just hang there for seconds before holding her.

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Wow, that is horrible. In the last set of balances, she never takes the last suitor's hand! Haha!

She doesn't take the last *two* suitor's hands! There are only two promenades! And that first balance, while long, ends up almost crashing.

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She doesn't take the last *two* suitor's hands! There are only two promenades! And that first balance, while long, ends up almost crashing.

This is horrendous to watch indeed. Sleeping Beauty isn't Don Quixote! She can show off her skills elsewhere.

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