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BalletNut

High extensions

   98 members have voted

  1. 1. High extensions

    • YES!! The higher, the better.
      16
    • In some ballets, but not in others.
      130
    • Don't care one way or the other.
      3
    • UGH!! Ballet is *not* for contortionists.
      29

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99 posts in this topic

So, what do people think of dancers who can scratch their head with their toes? Do they make your spine tingle, your stomach turn, or somewhere in between? ;)

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Originally posted by BalletNut

So, what do people think of dancers who can scratch their head with their toes? Do they make your spine tingle, your stomach turn, or somewhere in between? ;)

It depends entirely on what is appropriate for the ballet being performed.

For BUGAKU, I like high extensions. For LES SYLPHIDES, I like tasteful extensions.

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Agreed.

I think maybe a good guideline could be: If it horribly distorts the costume, the leg probably shouldn't be that high.

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Yes, and if it distorts the style horribly, as well. Of course, distortion can be in the eye of the beholder, and that's where the issue gets sticky. :)

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How many times have I seen (in youthful competitions especially)a girl doing a lovely lyrical dance and lifting her leg to the point that her flowing costume loses all of its beauty?

I admit I do like high extensions -- I find them very impressive, but I have to agree that sometimes they just don't "fit".

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While in some ballets high extensions can look good, I think it's important to consider whether a particular ballet would still look impressive without them, or whether the whole point of the ballet IS the fact that the dancers are lifting their legs so high.

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I am a fan of high extensions. I think that they are very beautiful to look at. Though, Ive also seen in many instances where people have their leg at almost 180, but they hike their hips so much that it distorts the image and it is a horrible sight. SO I voted yes to high extensions....but only if it is placed well.

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I agree with Kirovboy, yes i love to see extensions, but they must be placed well :)

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Good point Glebb :) I guess in addition to distorting the body you also have to be careful not to distort the line of the costume :)

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I like them when they're appropriate, like in story ballets when they seem to convey extreme emotions.

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Well, Glebb, with respect, both Symphony in C and THeme and Variations require high extensions -- Symphony in C has 6 o'clock penchees -- and the ballerinas are in tutus......

though 180 a la seconde is I guess what you're thinking about...

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And there's the Romantic tutu to consider. :D

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Actually, Myrtha and Giselle have very important penchees -- extremely significant moments in that ballet -- how high is too high on one of those?

I don't think I want to see 6 o'clock -- but in any case, hte important thing is not hte height but hte phrasing, the whole hting has got t o be a kind of reverence, a gesture on hte grandest scale, and it's MORE hte movement, than the position that matters.....

just last Friday, Muriel Maffre's opening solo at SFB was near perfection -- the action was on hte grandest scale, but she performed it utterly in character -- she stepped into arabesquewith SUCH decision, swept into the promenade with no visible preparation, and descended into magnificent, deep penchees, all with no sense of haste nor second-guessing, and in hte temps lie after each arabesque swept back into breathtaking cambre before starting he other side......

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I'm well acquainted with the choreography of 'Theme and Variations', 'Symphony in C', and 'Giselle'. I've staged a 'Giselle' and could probably stage the other two, (with a little advance video studying).

In 'Giselle', as you have said Paul, it's the way the penche is done. I don't think a six o' clock penche is necessary. I love Makarova's develope a la second in her solo leading into the pas de deux in Act II. But there is something poetic about the high leg. It's not high for the sake of being high, or "scratching her head with her toes" as is asked in the first post of this thread. It's just in the right place, taste wise.

I do think they way the develope, or the penche is executed makes the difference. I've recently seen photos of a gorgeous NYCB ballerina (one of my favorites), in a past six o' clock penche in the 2nd movement of 'Symphony in C'. It just didn't look good.

Get out your video of Gelsey in 'Theme' and see her a la second, and her penche. That is what I like.

I don't think the leg to the ear (as it is more often done today), in a short or long tutu is appropriate.

:D

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Glebb, I'm really sorry if I implied that you didn't know Giselle; if I had one millionth of the actual experience of making these great roles come to life that you have....

you're SO right about Gelsey -- in fact, the way she does those develloppees, supported by the soloists bourreeing around her, is a passage I'd quote to anybody as a great example of poetry in phrasing -- look how she brings the leg DOWN; each develloppe is a pas de cheval, enlarged to show detail, but with a perfect arc in its phrasing.....

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I'm surprised I missed this poll the first time around. I voted for "In some ballets but not in others." No high extensions in a Romantic (or pseudo-Romantic) ballet ever, IMO. It's not so much that it distorts the costume for me (although that is a problem) but it's historically very incorrect. A good rule would be: the shorter the skirt, the higher the legs can go.

When it comes to men with high extensions...well, many of the same ideas apply--it must be well placed (no distortion of the rest of the body), appropriate for the choreography, and not used in every single step.

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I'm still wondering how and why these long-dormant threads suddenly reappear, seemingly of their own volition. :crying:

While I think we should reinstate Bournonville's threads for women who exceed 180 in Penchee and approach it a la seconde, I think a lot depends not only on the costume and the context, but also on on the body. Some women may be able to hold that (right, in this case) working leg at 11:00 and look good, but I haven't seen any.

I see no need for a man to extend much higher than 90 degrees. It may just be me, but I think anything beyond that begins to look feminine. Nor does he need, IMO, a full split in saut de chat.

To voice my opinion against the seemingly unstoppable trend, I voted "Ugh!" As I wrote elsewhere (where? :wink: ) on this board, just because you can doesn't mean you must.

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I'm still wondering how and why these long-dormant threads suddenly reappear, seemingly of their own volition.  :wacko:

I think it's great that people are coming across older posts and polls, especially when they use "search." There's a lot of gold in the earlier discussions and topics.

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I like high extensions, but they must be appropriate to the ballet, and well executed. I can't abide a high leg with any body parts misaligned. No secondbesques please!

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I agree with most of y'all , and find Hans has said it the way that most echoes the way I feel.

In some ballets, the line is NOT high -- it makes the wrong picture if the extension is way high. (Just as in some ballets the jumps are not high -- e.g., Les Sylphides, where the landings are deep but the jumps barely leave the ground. That's the kind of wave it makes -- the trough is deep, the peak is not high.)

Similarly with extensions.

I've written a long --or it seemed long to ME -- piece about true geometry VS. distorted lines in Sleeping Beauty that's going to come out in Ballet Review, but ... well, I'll preview it here -- the “Rose Adagio” attitude NEEDS to be 90/90/90, and not higher; it's MORE beautiful, and more mysterious, and more sovereign, if it's rotated to the max than it can be if it's lifted to the max. (Bart -- I know you're a mathematician -- wonder what you'll think of this rather mystical numerology.)

When the knee is lifted to 90 degrees, rotated to 90 degrees, and bent at 90 degrees, the image is completely fascinating: it has a tremendous magic to it, with proportionality that's mysteriously satisfying, completely satisfying (which suffers diminishment if it leaves the perfect geometry, maybe as the Pythagorean triangle would lose its harmonies if the sides deviated from 3:4:5).

That's why we have to wait to see the image fully rotated in fact, as the suitors promenade her around in the culminating phrase of the adage. Petipa makes us wait, and then he delivers: the gesturing leg must be parallel to the earth from all sides and from every angle, 90/90/90, all four times, so when she finally opens into arabesque, fate perfects an image that (in Milton's phrase) was "curiously inwrought," potent and full of potential, which we have been aching to see unfold into arabesque (its final state), as you'd wait to see a rosebud open into the fully-ripe flower., and the number can end.

This is SUCH rich dance-poetry -- why spoil it by jazzing it up? Jazz is great, but not here --

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I love that description of the "dance-poetry" in the Rose Adagio. Wonderful images of Margot Fonteyn immediately came to mind. And it is certainly true that the ancient Greeks and others have found mystical qualities in numeric proportions.

Even though I agree with everything in Paul's post, my question is this: once an audience has become accustomed to more extreme angles of extension, isn't there a danger that the traditional -- however beautiful -- will somehow seem old-fashioned, overly restrained and technically limited? Almost as if the impression is being created that Fonteyn and her generation COULDN'T do "better." I suspect that other traditional arts have faced similar crises of stylistic exaggeration. In the end, which side wins?

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May another mathematician chip in? 3-4-5 isn't the only triangle that works; so does, for example, the more extreme one, 5-12-13. In terms of extensions, there are correspondingly more extreme bodies that work too, for example Sylvie Guillem's.

But I still vote with Paul on the Rose Adagio. I'd rather see perfect beauty in ballet than make ballet into an exercise in solving math puzzles (except when Balanchine brings the two together, as in the Agon pdd...). Maybe that is why Balanchine immitators fail: they can do the math, but the beauty doesn't happen.

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Even though I agree with everything in Paul's post, my question is this:  once an audience has become accustomed to more extreme angles of extension, isn't there a danger that the traditional -- however beautiful -- will somehow seem old-fashioned, overly restrained and technically limited?  Almost as if the impression is being created that Fonteyn and her generation COULDN'T do "better."  I suspect that other traditional arts have faced similar crises of stylistic exaggeration.  In the end, which side wins?

I think it depends on how the dancer performs 90 degrees. A dancer can do an energyless 180, but the "ooo" factor is there. If a contemporary dancer does a perfunctory 90, particularly as an emphasized or closing pose, that dancer is saying to the audience, :rolleyes: "They're making me stop here, even though I would rather put my leg behind my ear." If a dancer makes an infinitely extending harp of a 90 degree arabesque with lovely arms and back, it's really something.

In the Rose Adagio, the dancer is a princess at her coming out party. She's not Juliet. In my opinion, the tension of the scene is between the horrendously hard choregraphy and the modesty of the character, however excited she may be.

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Ballet should be fun to look at. Areobics is a totally different branch of movement.

Don't want to see people break there bones.

Walboi :yahoo:

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