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This is a personal anecdote, but the first thing that came to my mind after reading this thread (v. interesting!). I started my first ballet class when I was five. Honestly, the only thing I remember from those early lessons was how to hold my hands, like I was holding a delicate piece of popcorn between my thumb and my middle finger. Somehow, that caught my imagination early on, and I never lost my habit of holding my hands and fingers like that. Even now, as I'm walking, my hands revert back to the old, "natural" position.

I guess that's what ballet is all about, huh? The steps we learn become natural, and those of every day life, are....unnatural.

Just my $.02

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Old-Fashioned, that's a PERFECT example of the tulip at its most open; they often /usually hold the fingers and thumb closer together, though still distinctly separated. Nelli Kobakhidze (here's a link to Danish Ballet Journal http://www.dropshots.com/hookham#date/2007-03-08/23:29:26) has this to a beautiful degree. It's a Bolshoi thing, and I wouldn't be surprised (though I do NOT know) if it were a holdover of Moscow ways that orient more to Asia than to Europe.

I remember being told by a Javanese dancer that they have several versions of their sacred dance, the bedoya -- on a scale from ritual to theatrical, the most sacred version, the dancers keep their hands "like closed lotus buds,' and in the most theatrical, the hands are hyperextended, like hte full-blown flower, fingers actually curling back.

I've been taught in the other, the St Petersburg-based Ballets Russes Franco-Russian tradition, just like you; in fact, my teacher corrects our hands by having us drop the arm, relax everything, let the hands swing, and look at the finger-groupings -- now raise that to second positoin -- that's it, she says. It does seem to be what the hand does when it's most liquid and relaxed.

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I'm so glad to see the Limon quote -- he made a big deal out of hands in his training. He comes from the tradition that worked hard not to look like ballet -- hands had power as well as grace for him.

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