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Turned-in knees

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In a very intersting post about Balanchine's Don Quixote, Dale wondered about its place in b's output, and onticed its hops on pointe and turned-in knees...

Turned-in knees -- now there's a topic all by itself.

YOu see them in Balanchine, and they look very jazzy -- lindy-hop stuff, like in Rubies and Agon ("is Boston shag, dear"). But they're also a standard feature of "Arabic" dances -- Balanchine's "Coffee," in Fokine's Arabic episode in Glinka's opera "Russlan and Lyudmila. And you see lots of pictures of Russian ballerinas from the old days on pointe in turned-in passe, looking very "I am magnificent-- you may adore me" and not jazzy at all.....

What's up with turned in knees?

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I happened to notice today, in the demis' big section in 3rd Movement Bizet, a sort of quick curtsy by the ladies with turned-knees, as a showgirl kind of gesture.

Martins used the same motion in 8 More, for the Peter Boal role, as I recall (not having seen it since its earliest days). It came across as very effeminate in that context. Just an observation.

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Carbo, that little part in Symphony in C, third movement, is a make-or-break section for me when watching a company perform the ballet. It is right a "london bridges" moment where Balanchine has 1 demi couple makes a bridge or treliss with their arms, and the other demi couple goes through and then it is repeated with the other couple making the bridge etc... It is a little jazzy (the little turned in knee half-curtsie also occurs in other ballets, such as Rubies and Square Dance), but also has a whiff of social dancing or baroque form dance. And it matches the music at that point, which has the lower strings sort of sawing away (with the high woodwinds chimming in) in what I always think of as ho-down music.

What makes it a telling moment for me when I watch other companies do it, is whether they get that little jazzy or (if you will) non-ballet inflection. Some play it completely straight, thus failing to highlight Balanchine's recognition of that moment in the music. Of course, you don't want to over do it either. I thought Dena Abergel, as one of the demi soloists in the most recent performance at nycb, did it just perfectly.

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