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The "traveling bourree"

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I'm totally ignorant on technical matters, and I have a question about this step, whose name I sort of made up. By "traveling bourree," I mean the movement in which the dancer skims across the stage on her pointes in tiny steps. I always thought the dancer was supposed to keep her shoulders still and down. Which is why I can hardly stand to watch Alessandra Ferri on my tape of Balanchine's "La Sonnambula," with Baryshnikov. Why, oh why, are her shoulders jiggling so violently? In fact, her whole upper body is positively quaking.

Surely the dancer in this role is meant to skim as effortlessly as a ghost. I've never seen anyone else perform this role, so I can't be sure, but it seems to me that Ferri just does it so wrong. And if she is as wrong as I suspect, why was she permitted to perform it the way she did? I can't imagine that someone wouldn't say something.

I know nothing about technique and the realities of performance, but really --are shaking shoulders acceptable? And if not, why isn't she doing it correctly? I've seen her before, and she seems so gifted. But she ruined her role for me. Is anyone out there -- better yet, someone who has also seen the tape -- who can explain it to me?

Thanks! This has bothered me for so long.

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Normally, people generally just call those steps "bourées," but the technical term is "pas de bourrée suivi." The upper body is indeed supposed to remain as still as possible, although some slight movement is to be expected. I can't really speculate as to exactly why Ferri's bourrées look the way they do on that tape, but from having watched her dance before, I suspect that her center is not particularly strong, which may be part of the problem in this case.

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