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Those dropped-crotch grand jetes

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I apologize for the vulgar subject heading, but what does one call those grand jetes such as the one pictured in this NY Times article Jealousy and Betrayal in an Oriental Temple

on Alina Cojocaru's debut-- where the split in the leap is beyond a straight line and the torso sinks downward?

Dancers seem to be becoming more & more flexible as if that were an aesthetic goal in itself (is it?). Where will it stop? Should we all begin hyperextending our elbows in port de bras just to show how far back we can bend our arms?

Or do grand jetes like this look great in motion, but don't carry over quite so well in still photographs? I can't quite remember if I've seen one live in a ballet performance, although ghosts of memory reach back to old rhythmic gymnast exercises in Olympic media coverage, where I do remember thinking the image ugly.

I've always thought of the grand jete as one of ballet's great triumphs... a great floating soaring leap that other techniques don't seem to reach for.

In these over-extended jetes, it looks to me as if the leaper is sinking rather than soaring.

Although I admit Cojacaru's example here isn't the most egregious I've come across. It's only the latest and one I happen to have an URL for.

Still, is this a new trend in the technique? Is anyone out there still interested in the height of the jump? (or is that solely a male domain)

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I think I know what you are discussing and I agree with what has already been said on the subject, but when I looked at this particular photo I must say to me it looks more like she is very hyperextended more than her legs are oversplit. Her feet are definitely higher than her hips but that it because her knees are below the level of her hips. I have never seen this dancer so I do not know her legs. I do bet that she is very hyperextended. Really what I dislike intensely is when the knees are above the hip line. That is more of what I would refer to as an oversplit in grand jete.

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Yes, that's it, precisely. I don't mind it so much when it's the result of hyperextension, but when it's truly oversplit, it really looks most inappropriate in works in the repertoire from the pre-contemporary era or styles. Now, when a new work comes up with a place for it, depending on how it's used, I might not find it offensive at all. :)

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You can see the hyperextension clearly in the extended leg in the top photo, as well as the front leg in the grand jeté. This much flexibility along with the hyperextension can make incredible lines, or it can cause the line to be destroyed by going too far. Hard to regulate sometimes, especially in a big jump! ;)

I would add that this particular jeté was probably quite wonderful in action, and when not stopped at the top moment by the camera, as Amy questioned above.

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Are we talking grand jete (straight legs) or grand saut de chat (bent legs to straight)? The goal of the two jumps is different. In the first, the goal is to leap high; in the second, it's to move the feet as far as possible away from each other. It won't necessarily be the highest jump possible.

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That is a matter of opinion, citibob. I was taught that the point of a jump is to...well...jump. While one does move through a certain position in a jump, the point is not to reach a split; the point is to fly. Certain dancers who do not have large jumps can create the illusion of jumping higher than they really are by extending their legs farther apart if necessary. The differences between grand jeté and grand jeté pas de chat are differences in the quality of movement. The step Cojocaru is performing in that photograph is probably grand jeté pas de chat, as Makarova's staging does not include a grand jeté for Nikiya while she is wearing that costume.

As for oversplits in the classics, I say don't do them. Even 180 degrees is going rather too far for me, especially as the dancer usually loses the height and quality of the jump when trying to split his/her legs as far as possible.

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Originally posted by Hans

That is a matter of opinion, citibob.  I was taught that the point of a jump is to...well...jump.  While one does move through a certain position in a jump, the point is not to reach a split; the point is to fly.

Yes Hans, a jump must have an arc , not go 'splat' in space:eek: Oversplits and the resulting 'jumps' are very popular in rhymthic gymnastics.

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I found it a bit jarring in person last night. Likewise with the arabesques, it was a relief when they were 90 degrees on occasion. Somehow so many high extensions felt like tricks designed to elicit a "Wow!" when other things I consider important were missing, but as Amy says, flexibility seems to have become an end in itself. Note in the review the comparison with Nina's performance: "It was left to Mr. Bocca, who delivered all the right technical bravura, and Ms. Ananiashvili, unabashedly sensuous in the first act and projecting her classical style with exuberant form, to supply the passion that the ballet should have."

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I was distracted by the jumps and high extensions last night. I also thought Cojocaru was exceedingly bland in the first scene, projecting more a young girl in love rather than a powerful presence. I actually preferred Julie Kent on Friday night - very serene, beautiful back and shoulders, and technically compelling without any "tricks."

Cojocaru looks like Sibley to me, and dances a little like Maximova but I didn't find her particularly musical. Corella was wild almost to the point of sloppiness and his turns were precarious. I had never seen Bayadere before Friday night, and now that I have seen it twice, I am convinced it is impossible to top the entrance of the Shades which left me close to tears both nights.

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Having seen both Cojocaru Bayaderes (plus an earlier RB Giselle), and from my vantage point in the theater (Rear Dress, then Front Family Circle), I think the photo misrepresented the effect of her sauts de chat. To my eye, she flew, and the split did not appear overextended. Nor did her knees appear bent back. But then again, it's all a matter of where you're looking and when. Perhaps her harem pants, generally blousy but more fitted around the knee, could have created the illusion of hyperextension. What I did like about her jumps -- when not fully split -- was her attention to holding the back leg higher than the front. Many Russian/Soviet trained dancers have a habit of dragging the back leg, making the entire jump look heavy.

In class, Gelsey Kirkland oversplit saut de chat. When wearing a skirt or tutu, you can create the illusion of greater elevation. When the pelvic line is unobstructed, it's another matter. I am less concerned with oversplit saut de chat or grand jete than I am when it occurs in arabesque penchee. I was so relieved on Sunday to see Maria K. refrain from that habit in her Swan. Unbreakable rule in my book: Never extend arabesque beyond 180 degrees while in a tutu -- especially a white tutu. :)

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Are we talking grand jete (straight legs) or grand saut de chat (bent legs to straight)? The goal of the two jumps is different. In the first, the goal is to leap high; in the second, it's to move the feet as far as possible away from each other. It won't necessarily be the highest jump possible

Yes, Citibob, I would agree the goal of each is different, with the flashing legs for the saut de chat and the soaring arc for the grand jete, so that one would tend to jump higher in the grand jete and perhaps faster in the saut de chat... but... I've seen some beautifully floating saut de chats that almost seem to hover.... unfortunately, I've also seen some saut de chats that make the split but seem almost to lose height in the jump like those Graham jetes where the landing is supposed to be accented without any hint of floating...(in Graham, more like an attack than a leap)... so I hesitate to imply the height of the jump in a saut de chat isn't also important. It is almost as if the saut de chat is typically female and the grand jete male... Are women generally not expected to jump any more? I guess it's the pointe shoe thing. It seems like once pointes get used exclusively, the feet get weak for jumping. Probably a result of all these super stiff pointe shoes dancers seem to like these days.

But flashing the legs out into the saut de chat doesn't mean they don't need to register a beautiful line at full extension.

And yes, Victoria, I agree about the hyper extension... and she does look like the leap had an endearing effortless quality to it. If this were the only example of over-split I'd ever come across, I probably not have felt the need to post. I guess I was just surprised to see the flaw shown at this level (in the NY Times photo of such a famous young dancer's debut).

-- and yes, I should only be so lucky as to watch this dancer perform live! --

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since this thread has taken a personal turn that i had not anticipated, i just want to clarify that my post had nothing to do with cojocaru, nor with makarova's staging of bayadere. i did not even look at the picture, because it is at the new york times site which requires registration to view it- i don't have that registration, so i didn't.

i thought amy was just using the pic as an example, of what she wanted to talk about. having found her description more than adequate to get her point...that's where i began. i would hate anyone to think i was joining into any criticism of an indivdual dancer, especially one held in such exalted regard.

apart from all of that, i agree with carbro's comments about good taste in jumps and arabesques.

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I saw the Friday Bayadere, and must say I didn't notice the exaggerations in the photograph. I thought her jump was lovely as a jump, light and effortless. (However, Nikiya is someone jumping somewhere, and that didn't come across to me.) But as a general rule, I think the over split jumps are often quite ugly, and I find them even worse when men do them, especially to the side. Hyperflexible and light-muscled men in the classics (it is different in modern, gender bending pieces) don't seem to offer enough contrast to the women or give enough weight to the roles. I would give so much to see a really soaring arc in a jump, and not a gymnastic competition. However, I guess I have as much chance of that as of seeing a real Swan Lake!

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Check out the above for a photo of a REALLY dropped crotch grand jeté or saut de chat. However, there is another photo of this dancer that is lovely, and, I saw her and she is a beautiful dancer. This particular photo is singled out just to illustrate the real oversplit grand jeté that is beyond even that caused by hyperextension.

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Thank heaven's there's a skirt! To really appreciate the ugliness of the line, though, we need a unitard. It looks to me like her back knee is slightly bent in one of those Russian-style elongated attitudes... certainly makes her legs look shorter than they need to look, though, doesn't it?

By the way, how do those photos in the NY Times get chosen for publication? I remember modern dance artists hoping to find "press photos" on their contact sheets after dress rehearsal. Would ABT have previewed the photo? Does the reviewer have a say?

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Unless ABT submitted the photo (and press offices often supply the photos that are used), no. It's an issue of journalistic independence. If the Times' photographer took the picture, the selection is done by the Times. I don't know if the critic/reporter influences the selection or not. Strictly gut response: probably not.

The Times is willing to sell photos (as is well known from their tireless marketing of big, framed prints from their archives). This must be what the modern dancers were referring to.

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I can't remember any more, but it seems to me I've seen artists talking to the Times photographer... was it Tom Brazil? I can't remember... but are there dance photographers in NY that work "for" the Times but as independent contractors enough to allow for dialogue with the artists, or is it just professional courtesy?

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On the yagp web site, most of the pictures feature ultra-high extentions, over stretched jumps and contorted line, even in tutus. Probably not a good sign.

For me, it depends on the dancer. I had heard Cojocaru used her extentions like her former classmate, Svetlana Zakharova, but I didn't think she over-did them to the extent the Kirov dancer does. I think it is hard to tell where her crotch is due to the costume, same with the picture on the link.

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