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"Good Feet" The Who's, What's and Why's


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#16 Paul Parish

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 10:07 PM

I think of good feet as those that work well -- like Baryshnikov's, or Peter Martins's -- they're also well-shaped, but the thing is that they start to point when they should and work with alacrity. It's how they take shape.

Monica Mason had great feet, they were so witty, they licked the floor. It's that ACTION that makes feet good.

#17 Helene

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 10:27 PM

Monica Mason had great feet, they were so witty, they licked the floor. It's that ACTION that makes feet good.

Nicolas Blanc in "Emeralds" had that same quality doing the walks. It was gorgeous to behold.

Farrell's feet were beautiful to me because there was no difference between her foot and her shoe: it was all of one piece.

#18 Helene

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 07:51 AM

Another of Paloma Herrera, this time in action, from the ABT "Sylvia" mini-site:

http://www.abt.org/s...to_gallery.html

#19 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 08:17 AM

Monica Mason:



#20 Simon G

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:50 AM

Do you think perhaps we're getting somewhat over-involved in the politics of feet and the use of such within the dance technique of classical ballet from what the OP intended? This thread is evolving in a ballet connoisseur's dissection of the use of feet for ballet technique.

Yes, there are many ways to deconstruct the meaning of "good feet", however when I read or hear someone talk about a certain dancer having "good feet" I immediately think of feet like Rojo, Guillem or Hallberg.

Beautiful arched feet whether or not they actually work well are a criteria for entrance into schools and companies, though thankfully behind more important considerations such as artistry, technique, dance quality.

When I was a whippersnapper I gained entrance to White Lodge and at my audition even as a child I was asked to point my foot to see my arch, I have a very high arch and that was duly noted. Of course at 10 I was unable to use that arch and the foot in a fully realised way, but arch and instep are what's looked for at this basic level.

I wanted the OP to look at Kirkland in that Coppelia video because regardless of her physical and mental state at that time there are several beautiful beautiful balances and she uses her feet in a lyrical, evocative manner which I think for a ballet novice is a good example of a petit allegro/unsupported balance solo for a ballerina. Also it's one of the very very few films which exist of her which are accessible to the general public. Balanchine said of Kirkland she had the best balance of any ballerina he ever worked with.

I feel that the ensuing debate became something of an information overload for the OP who is just discovering ballet and is kind of alienating.

#21 ami1436

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:55 AM

Do you think perhaps we're getting somewhat over-involved in the politics of feet and the use of such within the dance technique of classical ballet from what the OP intended? This thread is evolving in a ballet connoisseur's dissection of the use of feet for ballet technique.


Actually -- no! The OP was remarking on comments on youtube, etc -- and you get comments re: bad feet on several ballet greats -- truth being, these feet aren't bad, and many of us consider them to be 'good feet' ------ it's all subjective!

And this is probably getting a bit board on boards........

#22 Simon G

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 10:11 AM

Do you think perhaps we're getting somewhat over-involved in the politics of feet and the use of such within the dance technique of classical ballet from what the OP intended? This thread is evolving in a ballet connoisseur's dissection of the use of feet for ballet technique.


Actually -- no! The OP was remarking on comments on youtube, etc -- and you get comments re: bad feet on several ballet greats -- truth being, these feet aren't bad, and many of us consider them to be 'good feet' ------ it's all subjective!

And this is probably getting a bit board on boards........


But Ami this is exactly my point. All the subsequent debate completely confused the issue. It's why I decided to illustrate the answer on the most basic level with pictures of feet which are considered "good" on pointe.

The minutiae of technique is incredibly alienating to ballet novices. If and when he wants to delve into the wider implications of feet and how they're used/trained in ballet that's further down the line.

This thread actually for me sums up why I have such a hard time of convincing my non ballet loving friends of why this is a wonderful, legitimate art form for everyone. It quickly can seem horrendously exclusory and exclusive. I purposely wanted to answer a total ballet novices question in a simple, clean and graphic manner.

How a top flight technician such as Rojo uses her feet is wonderful, yes, I agree, but it's a connoisseur's appreciation. It's meaningless to read when written in detail for a novice ballet goer. He didn't want debate or to open a can of ballet worms - he wanted a good accessible starting point to explore the art form at his own pace.

I noticed that the OP hasn't been back since, I just hope we haven't scared him off.

#23 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:11 AM

:wink: ...sorry about my ignorance, but what does the acronym "OP" stands for...?
just curious..

#24 Hans

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:20 AM

OP--Original Poster

#25 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:25 AM

:wink:

#26 bart

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 02:19 PM

I'm trying to keep up :wink: ... but enjoying this immensely :) .

I'm embarassed to admit that I never knew which part of the foot the "instep" is, until I learned it here from ami1436 and Hans's bog

It's fascinating to watch Tamara Rojo (in Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan) in the context of this topic. Her bare left foot at the beginning of the first waltz is exquisite in profile, especially the relationship between the high instep and the relatively small, extended toes. As Rojo skips across the floor, it's the curve of her instep (leading the foot forward, with toes point down toward the floor) that captures my attention. I would not have focused on this if I had not been reading this thread.

Thanks to all for sharing your expertise.

#27 ami1436

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 04:12 PM

bart -- your post made me smile! :wink: If you haven't figured it out, I'm a Rojo lover, and have watched her closely in class, rehearsals, performances.... Often people say that those with high-instepped, 'bendy' feet also have weak feet, and indeed this is often the case -- it takes time to develop the strength to stabilize oneself vertically and horizontally -- and boy, has Rojo got it. She's far from weak. Her moment in Giselle, Act II -- going from 5th through sur la coup de pied into a developpe in seconde -- is seriously mesmerizing. As her foot leaves the floor, it's so articulate, almost sexy, and then pauses at the ankle -- the developpe becomes a process of relinquishing womanhood........ and I'm digressing..... but there you go -- her foot spoke.

Simon G -- sorry for being quick earlier. To put it simply, the debates on youtube, etc, often include the type of discussion we are having here: aesthetics vs. use -- and thus I think the details are actually helpful. As to why the OP has yet to return... not everyone is as obsessed as I! :)

#28 Helene

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 06:25 PM

Watching Stephanie Saland go from fifth to sur la coup de pied in the "Divertimento No. 15" Dance in America performance is my favorite moment of that DVD. Her placement was so precise -- so classical -- and so different from most NYCB ballerinas.

#29 vipa

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 07:37 PM

Watching Stephanie Saland go from fifth to sur la coup de pied in the "Divertimento No. 15" Dance in America performance is my favorite moment of that DVD. Her placement was so precise -- so classical -- and so different from most NYCB ballerinas.


Wow I thought I was the only one who loved that moment so much!

Re - good feet. I really don't like noticing feet as a separate thing. Good feet complete/enhance a line whether it is an arabesque line or a line in the air (during a jump), and there are essential elements of strength and flexibility. If I walk away from a performance thinking about the arch or beauty of a dancer's foot, I think there is a problem.

#30 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 07:58 PM

If I walk away from a performance thinking about the arch or beauty of a dancer's foot, I think there is a problem.

But if you walk away thinking about the absence of beauty in a dancer's foot, then the problem gets worse, don't you think...? :wink:


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