How do dancers keep their spatial alignment?
Posted 04 January 2009 - 11:59 PM
Probably one of the most spectacular example of this is when the men with the spears go full out through the other row of dancers in the dvd of Pharaoh's Daughter. They don't seem to look or position themselves beforehand.
Posted 05 January 2009 - 04:38 AM
There's a rule in stagecraft: If you are crossing from stage left to stage right, you pass in front of an oncoming person moving in the opposite direction, unless directed otherwise.
Posted 05 January 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted 05 January 2009 - 11:31 AM
I still can't get over how wonderful ballettalk is... you are all so generous with your time and knowledge...
Posted 05 January 2009 - 11:34 AM
I've observed a number of rehearsals over the years which amounted to "blocking rehearsals." There was much talk of "diagonals" and "red"-or-"green" bits of tape. Not to mention the parallel lines on the floor which I think is what vrsfanatic was talking about when she mentioned "marley width."
However, it seemed to me that this could not be enough when complicated maneurvers involving lines crossing through one another, etc., were required. Also, spacing in circle dances. There, it seemed to boil down to practice, practice, practice.
Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:47 PM
Posted 05 January 2009 - 02:06 PM
I do remember being astonished when I realized, during the Dance of the Snowflakes, that the process had actually WORKED.
Posted 05 January 2009 - 10:40 PM
Posted 06 January 2009 - 12:20 AM
Which makes me think of a VERY fundamental issue -- namely, that spatial awareness is taught at an even more fundamental level than vrsfanatic mentioned -- those who begin ballet as adults (as I did) are IMMEDIATELY struck by the clarifying effect of working "en croix."
Ballet training itself beginning at the barre sets one up to know where front side and back ARE -- with both heels down, feet in first position, your own body is divided exactly in half, with nose, chin breast bone, pubic bone, and spine in the middle and everything else symmetrically disposed bilaterally. Same thing in Second -- from there it gets more complicated, but the GREAT miracle of fifth position is that with one foot in front of the otherheel to toe, heel to toe, when you start tto tendu you know from deep inside where front is, where back is -- and if you get vague on it, your teacher will correct you -- "tendu in front of your nose, and behind your bun." Same thing with grand battements. Teachers really do say that all the time.
It's Cartesian geometry with a person surrounding it -- you've got an x-axis and a y-axis on the ground, and a z-axis coming from your feet up to your head. Many years of training develop the inner awareness of this geometry and its ramifications -- and not in a vacuum, for even as the inner awareness is being cultivated the external awareness must also, so you can see where everyone is and "feel their bubbles" and don't broadcast bad vibes or move too big for the neighbors (or too small).
The geometry of travelling is an extension of that -- for one thing, you trust that other people will know where THEY are and where they are going, so even if everybody is making an about-face at the same time, that you'll all sitll know where you are, and that you'll all be able to do it on the beat (i.e., at the same time) and keep going in a measured orderly way.
On a separate note, has anybody else noticed how the Bolshoi video of Paquita shows an immaculately clean floor? no tape strips, NO spiking lines, it's a glorious caramel-colored expanse of CLEAN FLOOR and the dancers look like tea-cups moving around on it.... HOW do those dancers know where they are?
Posted 06 January 2009 - 02:45 AM
Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:41 AM
Posted 06 January 2009 - 05:14 AM
The largest studio in the Academy, known as Rep Zal, is where they do much of the rehearsing for stage work. The room is easily divided without making the floor. Students may use mirrors, barres, windows as division markers, for keeping lines, however the students all move in the same way from a very young age. They all use the same directions and lines. Each step they do is done is the same way. Spacing is considered part of the technique of ballet.
Just a guess, but I would think it is similar in all Russian ballet schools and companies.
Posted 20 January 2009 - 06:12 PM
I was recently in the fight scene in Romeo, I could tell how close a dancer was behind me by peripheral vision and hear the swords behind me.
Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:28 AM
It is so true that one has to start early with this in teaching spatial awareness!
The whole concept of where one's body is in the space around takes time to internalise.
Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:33 AM
That makes sense. But I would imagine that this was a kind of specialized skill. You can certainly observe this in operation in places like a major underground metro or subway system, or all sorts of complex urban crowd situations. Some do it brilliantly, weaving in and out, moving quickly and efficiently, never bumping, always going with the flow. I'm one of these, thank goodness. Others -- including several friends -- never seem to manage to adapt to it even after decades of having to try.
I can visualize (perhaps erroneously) student dancers who are technically tremendously gifted but who have great difficulty in placing themselves, while moving, in relation to others. Conversely, I can visualize student dancers who are great at this kind of placement -- and have a good sense of context and relation to others -- but are not as technically proficient in other aspects of dance.
Another way of looking at this might be to ask: Are there some people who are natural ensemble dancers -- and others who are not?
Edited to add: Innopac's initial post mentioned spear-carriers in Pharoah's Daughter. It's not only a matter of where they stand; it's the angle at which they carry their spears. The Russians on stage are particularly good at this kind of thing with armaments, etc. Americans and Brits seem to be particularly lackadaisical.
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