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High extensions


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Poll: High extensions (98 member(s) have cast votes)

High extensions

  1. YES!! The higher, the better. (16 votes [8.99%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.99%

  2. In some ballets, but not in others. (130 votes [73.03%])

    Percentage of vote: 73.03%

  3. Don't care one way or the other. (3 votes [1.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.69%

  4. UGH!! Ballet is *not* for contortionists. (29 votes [16.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.29%

Vote

#16 Paul Parish

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 08:23 AM

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.....

#17 Hans

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 08:57 AM

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.

#18 carbro

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:36 PM

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.

#19 Helene

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:13 PM

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

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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.

#20 missvjc420

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 12:24 AM

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!

#21 Paul Parish

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 12:58 AM

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 --

#22 bart

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 05:50 AM

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?

#23 drb

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 07:37 AM

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.

#24 Helene

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 02:14 PM

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?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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.

#25 walboi

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:20 AM

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:

#26 Amy Reusch

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:14 AM

I assume we're talking high extensions by women? I don't really care for high extensions by men. Actually, I think high extensions have become so mundane that dancers have forgotten how to make them impressive when the choreography intended them as such.

#27 dirac

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 12:47 PM

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.


Paul, your preview makes me eager for more...

Thanks to Hans (or the anonymous voter) who revived this thread. :devil:

#28 Paul Parish

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:34 PM

Hey Dirac,

I JUST was reading "Balanchine's Tchaikovsky" and ran into a passage where Mr B says "Petipa responded to the richness of Tchaikovsky's music by building the ballet around movements en dehors" -- which REALLY confirms my sense that in sleeping Beauty rotation, turning out is MUCH more important than high extension.....

#29 carbro

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 05:18 PM

Yet in the photos of the original Sleeping Beauty, Brianza's attitude is not 90-90-90. That 19th century thigh is not parallel to the floor.

#30 drb

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 07:01 PM

Yet in the photos of the original Sleeping Beauty, Brianza's attitude is not 90-90-90.  That 19th century thigh is not parallel to the floor.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Maybe it is not so much making an exact mathematical pattern that matters as suggesting it, or, better, conveying a sense of yearning toward it. I think "yearnings" are hard to see in still photos, but in real time convey some of the magic of the art of ballet. A dynamic way of bringing the real and the ideal together. 90-90-90 makes "ideal" sense for Petipa, so that a strong enough deviation from 90-90-90 could suggest reaching for some other ideal that was not part of his aesthetic vision, albeit beautiful on its own.


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