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Ballet Lesson 7 of 7: Tying Pointe Shoes

Posted by on Oct 1, 2006 in Tips | 5 comments

Tying pointe shoes incorrectly is as dangerous for the health of the dancer’s body, as progressing to using pointe shoes without having sufficient training, and being capable enough to dance en pointe. The decision to move to pointe shoes should only be made by a qualified dance teacher who knows the students body and limitations and is prepared to supervise this progression. Harm and injury is caused to the feet, legs and spine through the improper fitting, and tying of pointe shoes. This guide aims to provide a starting place for any dancer progressing through to pointe shoes, however it is the part of the dancer to ensure that not only has a competent teacher informed them that they are ready to make the transition, but also that they visit a suitable qualified shoe specialist to have the right shoes chosen for their particular foot type. Most ballet teachers will set aside a full lesson in which the class is taught how to tie their pointe shoes, and also how to prepare them for dancing, to increase the dancers comfort and the longevity of the shoe. For a beginner learning to tie pointe shoes the correct way can be a […]

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Ballet Lesson 6 of 7: Battement Tendus

Posted by on Sep 29, 2006 in Tips | 2 comments

This photograph illustrates the incorrect execution of a Battements Tendus. A Battement Tendus is both the commencing position and the concluding position of a grand battement and is often used as an exercise to force the insteps outward. The foot which is working (that which is not stationary on the floor) moves from in this case the first position, to the second or fourth position, with the toe remaining on the ground at all times. Throughout the movement it is important that both knees be kept straight. After the foot has reached the position pointe tendue, as it featured in the photograph, it then returns to the first position. Cinquième may also be done with a demi-plié in the first or fifth position. They should be practiced en croix. An alternative movement for the Cinquième is for the feet to start from fifth position. There is one main problem with the way that the dancer in the photograph is performing the battement tendus, that being her body is not properly aligned and is instead tipped too far toward the non working foot. The secondary problem with this demonstration is the dancer’s turnout, referring to the rotation of her feet. Leaning […]

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Ballet Lesson 5 of 7: Plie en Cinquième

Posted by on Sep 27, 2006 in Tips | 1 comment

This photograph gives an example of a position plie en Cinquième. This position is basically fifth position with the bending of the knees, down into a plie. Like before where the dancer has made mistakes with the positioning of the body in fifth position these follow into plie en Cinquième. This highlights the importance of mastering each of the five positions before moving on to more advanced movements. As outlined before for fifth position, flexibility and strength needs to be developed before this movement is able to be performed correctly. The correct performance of plie en Cinquième involves the dancer positioning themselves at the barre. The most important element of a plie to remember especially in fourth and fifth position is to let both knees move out equally, that is to ensure that the back knee does not roll forward, and to distribute the weight easily over the centre of the body, not allowing too much weight to move to either the front leg, or the back leg. In order to keep the body straight throughout, a clever idea is to imagine a string running down the length of the body, as the top half of the body lowers to […]

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Ballet Lesson 4 of 7: Fifth Position

Posted by on Sep 25, 2006 in Tips | 1 comment

This picture shows the feet in fifth position. Fifth position is the most common of the five basic foot positions and involves the toes of the front foot being equal with and touching the heel of the back foot and vice versa. When in fifth position the dancer’s arms may be positioned above the head as highlighted in the first photograph, or alternatively falling rounded forming an oval shape in front of the body, as they are in the first position. Despite being the most common position it is also the hardest to correctly perform. While in fifth position it is important that the feet move equally to one another. Like the other positions when in fifth position the top of the body should form a straight line, however in the photograph, the dancer’s pelvis is tilted forward a little too far causing the derriere to appear flat and lifeless. As outlined in the above lesson where the derriere was sticking out, this is caused by a lack of control over the muscles in the back and stomach, and in order for this to be rectified these muscles must be strengthened, as must the technique be worked on to ensure […]

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Ballet Lesson 3 of 7: Plie en Premiere

Posted by on Sep 23, 2006 in Tips | 0 comments

The position in this photograph is a deviation of first position and is again a basic movement. For this movement to be executed properly, the free arm (that which is not resting on the barre for support) should be held gracefully in front of the body. The elbow must be lifted, and not allowed to cling to the waist of the dancer. The little finger should at no time touch the outside of the thigh, rather it should ideally be held 2-4 inches away. The arm should be held in a way that looks graceful to the observer, and not as if the dancer is applying a great deal of thought to its positioning. It is important that during a plie the dancer is completely conscious of what they are doing at all times. The main problems with the Plie en Premiere are as illustrated by the dancer in the photograph above, the rolling forward of the ankles, and the protrusion of the derriere. The remedies for these faults are similar to those which are outlined in the above section. The even and educated distribution of weight across the dancer’s toes has also been discussed within the guide. The exercises […]

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Ballet Lesson 2 of 7: First Position

Posted by on Sep 21, 2006 in Tips | 15 comments

First position is shown in this picture. First position is instrumental as it is this position with which many ballet movements both commence and conclude, in addition to being the first position taught to a young ballerina. This position involves both the knees and the heels being kept close together, the legs are turned out from the hips, with the toes pointed outward. Ideally, if performed correctly the feet should form a straight line, or 180 degree angle, when viewed from above. However it is important that this turn comes from the hips, and that the turn out is in no way forced, as this places undue stress upon the hip, knee and ankle joints, all of which are at a high risk of injury in ballet. The arms are either curved softly in front of the body, or in practise one hand may rest upon the barre to provide extra stability to the learning dancer, as is featured in the above photograph. When being performed correctly, in first position, the spine should be straight with the head, back and pelvis all aligned. It is this area where the dancer in the photograph is having the most trouble. We are […]

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