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The Slave's hands?


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On video, the slave in Corsaire is often depicted by gesturing with two hands to his shoulder blades or any variation of one hand on and one hand off in turns and jumps. What is the history behind this gesture? Did it come from a specific dancer or is there more historical significanse to it? And is there a correct vs. incorrect way to use this gesture?


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I believe the position originated from the hands being at the front of the shoulders, almost on the pecs. I have a feeling (correct me if I'm wrong!) that at least in ballet this is a sort of middle-eastern sign of humility, where one puts their hands to bow. For example, this is also seen in Fokine's Scheherazade and in La Bayadere (though in La Bayadere when the dancer is standing still, the elbows are down by their sides and when they bow their elbows go out to the side).

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I believe that this gesture is basically Turkish. It involves putting the ends of the fingers on the points of the shoulders, the shoulderblades would be rather an uncomfortable place to put them. The original gesture has the thumbs and forefingers at opposite ends of the collarbones; that is too "closed" for the ballet stage, so the points of the shoulders is what it became.

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