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"Placement"


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#1 Michael

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Posted 15 January 2001 - 07:11 PM

I wonder, what is a good definition for the ballet term "placement"? Just what does it mean? Can someone give some sound examples?

#2 CygneDanois

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Posted 15 January 2001 - 10:57 PM

Ms. Leigh would do better with this, but I'll try to give a vague idea.

Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet defines placement thus:

"A dancer is said to be well-placed when he or she has learned to hold body, head, arms and legs in their proper alignment to each other, has acquired the turn-out of the legs, a well-poised head, level hips and a straight spine in all steps and poses."

Sometimes dancers "cheat" with their placement a little for aesthetic reasons. This is acceptable for a professional dancer, whose technique is established, and whose body is no longer developing. It is, however, inexcusable in a student (except for medical reasons) whose body is still developing and who needs to build a stable technical foundation. If this does not happen, the student will acquire more and more "bad habits" that will only impede his or her progress. Bad habits usually take years of hard work to correct, so they are to be guarded against at practically any cost. If, though, a professional dancer has established strong technique, slightly shifting the position of one's body in a given position or doing a step a slightly different way because it happens to work better for them that way are generally not a problem because the dancer knows to keep the changes small enough only to afford a better line or a more effective jump, turn, etc., and therefore are not detrimental to the strength of his or her technique.

I realize this is very general and somewhat confusing, but I hope you can sort it out and understand my meaning. Do please ask about anything that seems hopelessly unclear.

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CygneDanois

#3 Michael

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 08:09 AM

Thank you very much CyngeDanois. What is a bit confusing is how comprehensive the term is, since it includes so many things at once.

I heard (or read) someone say that a particular dancer's placement needed to be "more forward." I wonder just what if anything you would understand by that.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 08:13 AM

Pretty good definition by my standards!

Describing what an all-encompassing concept like placement is in a sentence or short paragraph would be a daunting task for the very best of us! As for an example, one used to say something akin to: Good placement=Margot Fonteyn.

#5 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 10:20 AM

Micael1, needing to be "more forward" could refer to having the weight of the body more forward over the metarsals, or it could mean having the upper back more forward and the ribs relaxed. (When the upper body pulls back, the ribs go forward, and of course this usually also causes the weight to be too far back in the heels.)

CygneDanois - and Gail Grant! - really stated it very well. Placement involves finding ones center of gravity, their "control zone", which means aligning the bones and placing the weight of the body in the right place for that dancer in that particular movement.

#6 ORZAK

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 02:52 PM

In Gretchen Ward Warren's book, "Classical Ballet Technique" on page 5 are some wonderful descriptions, definitions and diagrams of "placement".

An experienced dancer's body has learned it, and when it is achieved it feels almost weightless, and the body is thus ready for movement. Basheva

#7 CygneDanois

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 10:14 PM

I guess it wasn't as vague as I thought. Yes, Fonteyn is a wonderful example of good placement. If you've never seen her on video, Michael1, Susan Jaffe has good placement as well.

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CygneDanois

#8 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 12:21 PM

Among men, I always thought that Helgi Tomasson had remarkable placement.

#9 Michael

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 08:57 PM

Does anyone have examples, among dancers working today, of ones whose placement is particularly good? CyngeDanois mentioned Susan Jaffee. Anyone else?

#10 CygneDanois

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 09:58 PM

Peter Boal tends to be well-placed, I think. Darci Kistler probably has the best placement of the Balanchine ladies (with the obvious exclusion of her arms). Amanda McKerrow's placement is usually perfect, but then, she was trained exceptionally well. Among the Russians, Altynai Asylmuratova can't be beat, and neither can Larissa Lezhnina. Most dancers from Paris Opéra are impeccably placed, although Sylvie Guillem's placement (especially in developpé à la seconde and première arabesque) tends to be somewhat off-center.

HTH

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CygneDanois

#11 Steve Keeley

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 12:33 AM

Originally posted by Michael1:
Does anyone have examples, among dancers working today, of ones whose placement is particularly good?


Darcey Bussell is as "placed" as they come.

~Steve

#12 felursus

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 02:41 PM

CygneDanois wrote:
Most dancers from Paris Opéra are impeccably placed, although Sylvie Guillem's placement (especially in developpé à la seconde and première arabesque) tends to be somewhat off-center.
I think it's probably because at some point her rib cage just gets in the way of her leg!
Did you ever see the "South Bank Show" (shown on Bravo) interview/program about Guillem? There's a bit toward the end where she does a developpe a la seconde (leg-to-ear, of course) and then, very slowly, releves onto pointe. You can't be uncontrolled and unplaced to do that. I'm not saying I agree with all her exaggerations, but boy is it fun to watch!

#13 CygneDanois

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 04:29 PM

felursus, that is a developpé to écarté derrière, as I recall. In écarté, you are supposed to lean to the side. I believe she does elevé to demi-pointe. Yes, it is very controlled and beautiful to watch. She does not lack strength or control or, for the most part, technique. Also, it is a rule in ballet that even in écarté, the spine does not bend. It remains straight and tilts so that it is on a diagonal straight line. The times that I have seen Guillem's position à la seconde, her spine has been curved.

I tend to look at it as the leg getting in the way of the ribcage, although it is fun to watch her contort herself in modern pieces. She has the most extraordinary dancer's body.

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CygneDanois

#14 CygneDanois

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 10:19 PM

Sorry, felursus. Now that I read over that post, it sounds a bit rude. No offense intended.

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CygneDanois

#15 Andrei

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Posted 22 January 2001 - 08:36 PM

I'm sorry, CygneDanois, but in my knowlege in ecarte derriere or avant (it doesn't matter)one shoulder has to be a little bit higher then other, so you have to curve your spine a little bit.

Andrei.


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