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Thoughts and questions on arm placement in the romantic era.

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Hello to all i'm new and this is my first post.

I have been asking myself quite some time on how the dancers used and holded there arms in the 19th century. As I have been dancing parts of Giselle, La Vivandìère Pas de six and also Les Sylphides (a 20th century ballet on the romantic era).

If one takes a look at the prints of Taglioni, Grisi, Elßler etc. one can clearly see that they pose in more rounded and uneven positions. For example: Taglioni in Chalon's Pas de Quatre print shows a much more upon and forward bended fifth positon and Grisi in a print of Coralli's La Péri positions a kind of fifth position with one arm lower the the other.

I have many logical visions on this subjet.

I would say that Filippo Taglioni had a large influence on the fashion and style of movement in the 19th century. It is known that the rounded positions originated, is due to the very long arms of his daughter Marie. I want to also mention the Escuela Bolera (the spanish ballet school (Elßler's spanish style). This school had it's birth in the 18th and already used the rounded arms to play the castanets more comfortable.

Does Carlo Blasis have a large influence on arms positioning in this century and can one link his dance form to Filippo Taglioni's?

I see also a logical answer to contect the height of the arms with the dress worn by the female ballerinas. The clothing of the ballerina consisted of a corset with made her waist firm. Because it was quite ugly and unnatural to stand tall and straight the ballerina contrasted it with bending her torso slightly forward and bending from the shoulders to the sides. As a consequence the arms are lowered. But what is with the male dancer. He didn't wear a corset. Where his arms then higher than thoses of women?

Last year I had I teacher who told us the importance of the placement of the arms in different pieces of the ballet repertoire. One should not dance Giselle with the same arms as in Sleeping Beauty.

One thing I really was astonished about was the arms in Les Sylphides. My teacher told me I had to lower the left arm and put my left hand under the right hand so that my middle finger would touch the other hand. He said that was the meaning of love in the romantic period. Fokine used it alot in his ballets, one can point out Le Spetre de la rose and Les Sylphides. It is curious that Alicia Alonso in the documentary DVD (Alicia Alonso: Giselle, Una Leyenda, (2006)) she speaks about the importance of the lower left hand in fifth position especially in the second act. In conclusion I relat the left to the heart and therefore the link to love.This is a very interesting matter.

My teacher also told us that this stlye of the "hanging, soft arms and hands" ends with the Sleeping Beauty (1890) where the arms evolve to a more lineal and higher form.

Any thoughts, comments, addtions would be great.

Dancecreature :beg:

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As a choreographer/teacher, Filippo Taglioni is a transition between the Anacreontic (Blasis) era and the full Romantic. We can't know what his work actually looked like, because none of it survives. Technique in the first half of the nineteenth century featured lower extensions and arms which were more rounded than they are today, after Cecchetti, and a lot of Imperial Russian products. There was change going on even in the period, when Bournonville sewed postal twine into Lucile Grahn's skirt, to make sure she didn't extend her leg "too high". The allover line we would today consider "allongé".

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