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Helene

Misty Copeland, Part Deux

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I am very surprised and really shocked to see Misty Copeland - at this stage in her advanced career (!) - struggling to control her hyperextensions, so much tension in the body and stiff epaulement. Surely she should have all this under control by now...? It seems (based on these videos) she really needs to go back to basics and re-train.

I find this very odd for someone who is after all a principal ballerina.

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It doesn't surprise me at all: dancers describe their post-injury comebacks as starting from the beginning and, in the process of making themselves stronger, unlearn old habits.

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9 hours ago, Katia Kapustin said:

I am very surprised and really shocked to see Misty Copeland - at this stage in her advanced career (!) - struggling to control her hyperextensions, so much tension in the body and stiff epaulement. Surely she should have all this under control by now...? It seems (based on these videos) she really needs to go back to basics and re-train.

I find this very odd for someone who is after all a principal ballerina.

 

3 hours ago, Helene said:

It doesn't surprise me at all: dancers describe their post-injury comebacks as starting from the beginning and, in the process of making themselves stronger, unlearn old habits.

It's definitely what he's doing to her, she can't possibly be that weak.

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If she is trying, after years of depending on a certain technique, to change her standing alignment, she is making changes so fundamental it's amazing she can stand up.  She's spoken many times about her hyperextension -- she's had several work-arounds, and continues to warn younger dancers to avoid that alignment if they can.  I think she wonders if it is holding her back in certain ways, and I could see her doing some really powerful re-training.  But I don't know this particular coach and his approach to this kind of trouble, so can't speak specifically.

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One of the greatest teachers that I ever studied with never danced. She went through the 5 year pedagogy training at GITIS in Moscow, same as this guy. And she recognized thing in my body that no other teacher or coach ever picked up on and I was the better for it. I cannot stand this man, the way he talks and his very high opinion of himself. But much of what he is correcting Misty on is absolutely accurate from my perspective (former professional and now teacher and coach). It is very different than what is taught here in the US, I don’t agree with all of it, but a good deal is right on target. He is literally retraining her understanding of how to utilize her turnout and her back. In every performance video of Copeland that is what is so weak. It takes a huge amount of courage on her part to really relearn what is so fundamental, disregarding the hyperextending issue.

And by the way, she is standing in a true Vaganova 2nd position, with the heals placed only as wide as her hips, not 1st. I don’t agree with having her sit in her knees to that degree, but I would be guessing that he is trying to get her to understand how to actually straighten her legs, as opposed to locking back or relaxing. Once she figures that out she will not need to sit back that much. It is unorthodox in the extreme, but so far what she has been doing isn’t working.

I’ve gained a lot more respect for her in trying to retrain a fundamental element of her dancing so late in her career, even if I dislike the messenger. What he is saying isn’t the ‘secret’ of ballet, and for goodness sakes he isn’t the only person who knows what her is doing. There are many teachers that have studied true pedagogy, many with a long history of producing phenomenal dancers. Yes, he actually did teach at the Bolshoi, yes he actually did graduate from GITIS, and yes there are things that he is teaching that are accurate and correct. Doesn’t mean I agree with how he presents it.

I’m curious to see how it all plays out. I hope for her sake the gamble pays off and she doesn’t get so discouraged that she gives up on the retraining of fundamentals. But for her sake I hope it works for her!

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Posted (edited)

I don't think someone has to have danced professionally in order to be a good teacher - I know a lot of parents look at qualifications like that, but being a professional dancer doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher and not being a professional dancer doesn't make you a bad teacher.  I vaguely remember a story of an Olympic swim coach who didn't know how to swim.  He was able to be successful (his students went on to win gold medals) because he understood the mechanics but just couldn't do it himself.  Thinking back on my ballet training, I think most (if not all) of the teachers I've trained with all started ballet when they were young (of varying ages).  None of them started ballet lessons as adults.  I'm not saying that an adult learner *couldn't* become a teacher and even be a great teacher - I just imagine it's quite rare?

I skimmed through the video with the sound off - was there a reason given for such shallow plies before the pirouettes? And wouldn't such an open fourth position require more effort to push onto the standing leg (compared to a closed fourth)?

I wonder what her past teachers/coaches (e.g. the ones who trained her from age 13 up to when she joined ABT Studio Company) would say if they saw these videos.  I imagine this new method of training is quite different from the way they train, but maybe that's the point. 

Edited by GretchenStar

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Fraildove said:

 It is very different than what is taught here in the US, I don’t agree with all of it, but a good deal is right on target. 

And by the way, she is standing in a true Vaganova 2nd position, with the heals placed only as wide as her hips, not 1st. I don’t agree with having her sit in her knees to that degree, but I would be guessing that he is trying to get her to understand how to actually straighten her legs, as opposed to locking back or relaxing. Once she figures that out she will not need to sit back that much. It is unorthodox in the extreme, but so far what she has been doing isn’t working.

Yes, he actually did teach at the Bolshoi, yes he actually did graduate from GITIS, and yes there are things that he is teaching that are accurate and correct.

I, too, was trained by teachers from the Kirov and Bolshoi but I disagree with most of what he says. I don't believe in squeezing or gripping anything including the butt. He's all about that which creates so much tension and then none of his students can move!

I agree with you that that is a second position  (minus the sitting in the hyperextension) but unfortunately he is teaching it as first... 

To understand how to actually straighten one's legs, the heels must be together. I just don't see how it's possible to do it otherwise. And saying he doesn't care where her weight is at the moment is just ridiculous.

I know he graduated from GITIS but he can't possibly have had a class at the Bolshoi Academy. I know he did some choreography there and I don't think he did much more. 

 

Edited by FireDancer

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I'm reading this all with interest yet it's left more confused than ever as far as his teaching being correct or not.  If Misty gets rave reviews for improvement in technique when she starts performing again; I'll be apt to believe those who say he teaching is good (but we all agree his presentation is horrible!).  He actually says in one of his videos that he sells his DVD's because he can't "go around the world and re-train every single dancer" (paraphrasing).  Ego, much?

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1 hour ago, Balletwannabe said:

I'm reading this all with interest yet it's left more confused than ever as far as his teaching being correct or not.   

Ego, much?

What are you confused about?

And yes, so. much. ego.

And why the constant swearing?

 

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22 minutes ago, FireDancer said:

What are you confused about?

And yes, so. much. ego.

And why the constant swearing?

 

Fraildoves post- her opinion that much of what he says is accurate.  You and others disagree.  That's ok, it's just interesting to me; the differing opinions.

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4 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Fraildoves post- her opinion that much of what he says is accurate.  You and others disagree.  That's ok, it's just interesting to me; the differing opinions.

I can give you my opinion about anything specific you may be wondering about 😉

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Like I said, I totally disagree on the delivery and cannot stand the man’s ego. As to your comment of griping, Firedancer, I agree, you should not grip. But I’m taking it to mean engage, and yes the butt has to very much be engaged at all times. My husband als was a principal dancer in the old Soviet system at a MAJOR company and went through the 5 year pedagogy program, not GITIS, but a sister program. He also teaches the full engagement of the muscle and it in no way means gripping. Maybe I missed it but I never heard him call the position she is standing in as 1st. When I went back and watched a few of his other videos, the excessive where she is standing in second and working not to shift her weight was indeed called 2nd. I’ve had a single teacher try something similar with me many years ago and the excersise really made me feel my hip flexors and hamstrings. I have no idea if he intends her to actually dance like that, hopefully not because it isn’t really possible, but can understand when done in isolation to find certain muscles. Like I said, it is very unorthodox. And I said from the beginning that I don’t agree with how he is training the hyper extension. I have very hyper extended knees and it took me a long time to understand how to straighten them without locking. And standing in 1st with heels together was not what taught me to straighten my knees. On the contrary. And I’m referring to when I started at age 9. It was a teacher who really got into how to work with hyperextension and a phisio that allowed me to finally control the hyperextending. Yes i donstand at the barre with my heels in 1st, and expect my dancers to as well, but not at the expense of them relaxing their knees thinking that they are straight. He is very unorthodox and leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but some of what he is saying is correct, even if he is saying it badly. And yes, it’s ok to have a different opinion. There are many ways to teach a dancer. I have several of my own students working in professional companies so something we are doing works 😊 I sincerely hope this works for Misty. I hope that she is able to pick apart what he says and make it work for herself. I wish her the best!

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Thank you for this additional information fraildove; I appreciate the detailed explanation.  

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57 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

 

Hi again :)

I would love to know how your teacher taught you to work with your hyperextension as I don't personally have it so have never felt in my own body and can only imagine it... 

Also, I usually can't watch his videos (and especially can't listen to his sneering voice)  and end up skimming to see what new horridness he's put out there so he may have called it second at some point. However, if you watch this video specifically on hyperextension, he talks about how the heels should not be together in first and the legs should be "fully straight" which for him means to their full hyperextension (I completely disagree as already started) so I really think he means that position to be a first 😩 

 

What do you think?

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In a Conversations On Dance interview the NYCB Director of Physical Therapy, Marika Molnar says she sometimes applies tape across the backs of knees of dancers with hyper extensions, so that when the are standing around in class, they have a gentle reminder to no push their legs back into their hyper extension.

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Even better to have a teacher, (the wonderful David Howard)  constantly telling me, over and over to stop snapping back on my knees in class. He would demonstrate how to pull up without gripping- he was hyperextended as well. He would make sure that you were always on your legs, not on your heels, at the barre - this helped  in the center when you were doing any kind of turns. I stopped watching the first video as it made my knees hurt. I hope that Misty will improve with her  new coach (Conrad)- but I just don't understand what he is trying to do.

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On 3/14/2019 at 6:01 PM, vipa said:

In a Conversations On Dance interview the NYCB Director of Physical Therapy, Marika Molnar says she sometimes applies tape across the backs of knees of dancers with hyper extensions, so that when the are standing around in class, they have a gentle reminder to no push their legs back into their hyper extension.

that technique works with all kind of hyper-mobile joints -- it's a wonderful trick.

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