Many students have trouble finding their balance when they piqué in first arabesque. This is the third blog in a series of excerpts from my Guidebook on how to make this all-important step look better.
#3 Ears back!
This is an abbreviated command. Since you are moving forward, you must have opposition of weight and movement in order to balance your piqué in first arabesque. Therefore, keep your ears and shoulders back. Most importantly, find your balance by sending energy down through your standing leg and out through your back shoulder and arm. Remember that only your toes and hips move forward. The succession of movement is this: toes, hips, chest, shoulders, arms, and head. Your ears stay back until the last moment. (Excerpted from “The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers & Students. Page 274.)
Many students have trouble finding their balance when they piqué in first arabesque. This is the second blog in a series of excerpts from my Guidebook on how to make this all-important step look better.
#2. Walking down the stairs
When you piqué, imagine that you are going down the stairs. On your way down, you don’t lean forward because you will fall. You keep your ears up and your shoulders back. You reach downward for each step with your foot forward and leg extended. After you have placed your foot on the step, you rest momentarily. Use the same principles when you piqué. You may look like you are stepping “up” on your leg when you piqué, but actually you are always stepping down. (Excerpted from “The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers & Students. Page 274.) http://finisjhung.com/shop/guidebook/
Many students have trouble finding their balance when they piqué in first arabesque. In the next few blogs, I will present different ideas on how to make this all-important step look better.
1. Reach out, step over, and push down
Whenever you piqué, whether it’s to a simple pose or a turning pose, always reach your piqué foot and step as far from your back leg as possible. Good dancers, especially those working on pointe, always “show their leg” before they piqué arabesque. You should see your long straight leg with a strongly pointed foot reaching out before you stand on it. Some dancers make a “scooping” movement when they piqué arabesque. As they fondu, they lean forward and let their hips drop back. Instead of reaching out and over and pushing down, they lean forward and piqué with a bent knee. Then they jerk their arms and arabesque legs upward and hold their breath while they try to balance. It looks like they are struggling. That is because they are. I tell my students, “You look like what you do.” If you work correctly, your balance is automatic and effortless. If you work incorrectly, you fight for your balance or miss it completely, and we notice it. For fun and learning, ask your students to bring their dance bags to the center floor. Have them practice their piqué arabesque by stepping over their own bag. This will teach them to keep their ears and shoulders back and not lean forward. It will teach them how to “show their legs” and find an easy balance. (Excerpted from “The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers & Students. Page 274.) http://finisjhung.com/shop/guidebook/
The classical ballet body positions are based on logic and are functional. When we use them as we dance across the floor, we are able to maintain our balance and move with control and grace. For instance, when making a tombé pas de bourrée forward from corner 6 to corner 2, we usually begin stepping out on the right foot. Most beginning students have trouble with this step. Instead of beginning with a pose in effacé devant (the head placed over the left shoulder and eyes focused in line with that shoulder) they tilt their head to the right, look straight ahead, and lean over the right foot. As a result, they have all their weight moving in the same direction at the same time which makes them stumble and get behind the music. If they would start out in a proper effacé devant pose—and look away from where they are going—they will then be able to balance the forward movements of their feet and legs and move with control and grace. NYCB Soloist Antonio Carmena demonstrates this beautifully in my instructional video “Basic Ballet Movement Skills Lesson 1.”
The biggest challenge a dancer faces each day is being able to repeat the correct preparation—for a balance, turn, or jump—over and over, day after day—with a sense of newness and discovery. It’s always the same, but you have changed.
Bounce like a rubber ball: When teaching jumps, use a rubber ball (Spalding is best) to show your students how you want them to bounce off the floor. Raise the hand holding the ball as far from the floor as possible and then bounce the ball as quickly as possible. Point out that the ball does not sit on the floor—you don’t see the ball on the floor. You see it going up. In the same way, when your students plié to jump, their feet should not rest on the floor. They must not plié slowly. They should be stretched up strongly in Number 1, keep their hips up high, make the plie almost isometric, and jump with a fast minimal push from the knee. They should focus on the action of the foot going from flat on the floor to being pointed in the air. Concentrate on the pushing the floor as quickly as possible using the ankle, instep, and toes. Push and point— QUICKLY! For more detailed instructions like this, use “The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers & Students.”
The more you practice incorrectly the better you get at doing it wrong. It does not matter how many classes you take—wrong will never be right. Open your mind to the possibilities of new ways to do old things.Try doing things differently and surprise yourself.
Skies are grey today. Temperature has dropped. Hurricane is brewing. Rainy chilly days are coming. But above it all the sun continues to shine. Just because you can’t see it or feel it does not mean it’s not there. Don’t be fooled. Think big. Life goes in cycles. You will see the sun again. Your pirouettes will return.