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Fixing the Fouetté

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These are the notes from an class I taught on the subject at the Dance Teacher Summit in 2011.  For clarification, these skills are meant to be cumulative, over years of training and not progressions to be drilled one class after the other in short term training.  If you have been working on fouetté turns with dancers and having a problem with execution, a suggestion is to go through the list of movement components individually and find the one(s) that is/are problematic and start by correcting those first and then re-evaluate.

Foundational Components

1 - Plié and relevé on the supporting leg 

Observing the foot barefoot (if possible) and correct any issues you find

- Maintain weight distribution in a tripod (pad of the big toe, little toe and center of the heel) through the movement of plié and straightening

- Maintain an even weight distribution across the metatarsal shelf in relevé.

- Control the foot alignment and weight distribution through the transition from plié to relevé and back into plié.

Observing the ankle alignment and correct any issues you find

- Maintain a neutral ankle alignment - as related to the position of the lower leg and foot

     * In plié, watch for gripping of the anterior tibialis.  The front of the ankle should remain soft on the descent.

     *  In plié, maintain the weight balance as described above.  Watch for rolling in or out in the arch.

     * In relevé, watch for rolling in and out.

     * Press the ball of the foot into the floor to create the relevé action as opposed to popping up.

Observing the knee alignment and correct any issues you find

- Maintain a neutral alignment as related to the hip and lower leg / ankle.

- Watch for changes in the knee alignment, especially through the plié and relevé transitions

- Correct hyperextension, encourage dancers to find straight instead.

- Remind dancers to fully straighten their knee (without going into hyperextension).

Observing the hip / pelvis alignment and correct any issues you find

- Maintain a neutral pelvic position

     * Watch for anterior tilt of the pelvis, often seen in dancers with short or tight hip flexors and sometimes compensating for a shallow plié

     *  Watch for posterior tilt of the pelvis, often seen in dancers with short or tight hamstrings anend dancers who don't understand the difference between dropping their tailbone and tucking under.

- Maintain turnout at the top of the thigh in the hip socket

- Consistency in the amount of turnout throughout the plié and relevé.

2 - Movement of the Gesture Leg

Turnout

- Maintain turnout at the top of the thigh in the hip socket.

- The gesture leg does not turn out from losing turnout on the supporting leg.

- The dancer's side alignment is dependent on his/her turnout.

Battement Devant

- Pelvis remains neutral

     * Avoid tucking the pelvis under to try to increase the height of the gesture leg instead of working at the height allowed by the hamstring mobility.

     * Work on hip / thigh dissociation to avoid hip hike.

- Maintain a consistent height to the gesture leg through the plié and relevé

Rond de jambe front to side

- Maintain the turnout of both legs.

- Open the leg to the dancer's natural side position.

- Maintain the height of the leg throughout the movement.

- Maintain the pelvis over the supporting leg.

- Work on the timing of the gesture leg to coordinate with the supporting leg plié and relevé.

Beat

- Maintain the position of the thigh during the back / front beat

- Control the movement to avoid snapping.

- Watch for torque at the knee.

3 - Rotation of the Body

Posture

- Maintain neutral alignment throughout the overall body

     * Watch for forward / backward hinging of the torso on the pelvis

     *  Maintain alignment throughout the transition between plié and relevé

Shoulder Girdle 

- Arm placement is such that torso / ribcage position is neutral

- Arm height is regulated to avoid lifting shoulders or extending spine

- The 2nd position arms are not opened too far side (watch the upper arm at the shoulder socket)

- The distance of the hands from the torso allows for the upper body to remain stacked over the hips

- There is enough strength and endurance in the deltoid muscles to maintain a supported arm position.

- The shoulder blades remain flat against the ribcage - avoid protracting /retracting / winging.

Timing

- Time the descent into plié to avoid sitting in the plié and losing the potential energy created during the plié.

- Control the descent to avoid dropping into the plié.

- Work on the timing to transition between the plié and the relevé smoothly.

- Coordinate the timing of the gesture and supporting leg movements.

- Coordinate the timing of the arms with the legs.

Spotting

Balance

Preparatory Exercises / Progressions

Single Leg Plié and Relevé

  • Coupé  
    • parallel barre
    • parallel center
    • turned out barre
    • turned out center
  • Retiré 
    • turned out barre
    • turned out center
  • Leg held devant 
    • 45 degrees barre
    • 90 degrees barre
    • 45 degrees center
    • 90 degrees center
  • Leg held à la seconde
    • 45 degrees barre
    • 90 degrees barre
    • 45 degrees center
    • 90 degrees center

Rond de Jambe en l’air

  • Grand rond de jambe en l’air flat
    • 45 degrees barre
    • 90 degrees barre
    • 45 degrees center
    • 90 degrees center
  • Grand rond de jambe en l’air relevé
    • 45 degrees barre
    • 90 degrees barre
  • Rond de jambe en l’air en dehors flat
    • barre
    • center
  • Rond de jambe en l’air en dehors relevé
    • barre

Putting it all together

  • Preparation exercises at the barre
    • Plié 5th, brush the leg front, open side
    • Plié 5th, brush the leg front, AST relevé on supporting leg, open side
    • Plié 5th, brush the leg front, AST relevé on supporting leg, open side, beat back /front
    • Plié 5th, brush the leg front, AST relevé on supporting leg, open side, beat back / front w/ turn
  • Preparation exercise in the center
    • Pirouette from 5th 
    • Pirouette from 5th with balance ending retiré
    • Pirouette from 4th back 
    • Pirouette from 4th back with balance ending retiré
    • Pirouette from 4th  or 5th ending developpé front in plié
    • Pirouette from 4th or 5th ending developpé front in plié, relevé open leg to 2nd
    • Pirouette from 4th or 5th and 1 fouetté
  • Building up repetitions
    • continue to add additional fouetté

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How Is Music Beneficial For Children?

For children, music provides innumerable benefits. Given are the top 9 benefits that your child can enjoy if she or he learns music.
1. Enhanced mental advantage-several studies have shown that children who are exposed to music show better academic achievement. Participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory. Music helps stimulate different patterns of brain development. Music also helps stimulate the parts of the brain that are related to reading, and math.

2. Patience-the present day world is marked with instant gratification and materialism. It is of the utmost importance to teach our children the value and virtue of patience. Music inadvertently teaches patience. Children are taught to play music together in a group and wait for their turn. When they are playing in a band or an orchestra, they are made to wait and play when their turn comes otherwise the music that is produced is like a cacophony.


3. Self-expression-music is a very effective tool in teaching children the art of self-expression. It gives them pleasure and lets them express themselves, their emotions, and feelings in a very effective and beautiful manner though.

4. Peace of mind and inner soul-music is a great means to unwind from the stress and worries of life. Though children may not feel the stress and tensions as adults too, they may sometimes feel lonely or upset. Disagreement with parents, arguments or fights with siblings, and conflicts with peers at school are some of the issues that may disturb children. To help them deal with such situations, we should make children learn music. Music lets one experience inner peace. It enables one to connect with one’s true self and live a balanced life.

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5. Building bonds with others-it is found that children who learn music are able to connect well with others. They learn how to relate with others and how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working in and as a team. This is a very crucial life skill and music helps children stay connected with others and build valuable bonds.

6. Confidence-it is very important to build confidence in children. Confidence is the driving force for all things in life. It enables one to pursue one’s dream and strive for them constantly despite of all challenges. If you want your child to develop confidence, make them learn music. Music makes them feel confident. They find that they can develop a skill and they can become better and better.

7. Discipline-when your learn music, you have to practice a lot to improve what you have learnt. This teaches discipline to kids. They are taught to be attentive in class and practice what they have learnt when they go back home. Music makes children disciplined and this helps them in other areas of life too.

8. Creativity-music is a creative pursuit and be it Indian music for children or Western music or any other form of music, it fosters creativity in children. Creativity is good for the mind, body, and soul.

9. Health prospects-Indian music has many health prospects for children. The sounds in the classical music are played in tune with the nature, allowing one to experience peace of mind and seek within themselves. When one listens to the Ragas or Tala the mental patterns are transformed. People who are suffering from stress and other ailments can benefit a lot by learning Indian music. The spiritual nourishment that one gets from the Indian music is very fulfilling.
Teach music to your child and let him or her enjoy the many benefits.

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New York Dance Scene, January 2015 Updater

January 15th, 2015

 

Dear Dancers,

 

Instead of reposting all of my reviews from BroadwayWorld.com, I’m giving you this constantly updated link to my BWW archive with all of my reviews: http://www.broadwayworld.com/author/Sondra-Forsyth#.UxoKUV6vzC8

My most recent reviews are of “Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” and the Broadway show “On the Town”. Next up, the Mariinsky Ballet’s “Swan Lake”. I’ll be seeing the production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music tomorrow, January 16th. My review will go live soon after that.

 

In other news around town, Espen Giljane has taken over the 10 a.m. ballet slot at Steps on Broadway that was long held by the late, beloved David Howard. Espen’s class is terrific with a sensible barre that really warms us all up and a center that covers everything we need to be working on each day. He gives good corrections, but he never slows down the pace. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious. If you’re in town, I suggest giving Espen’s class a try!

 

In the funding arena, the Harkness Foundation for Dance has distributed 5 million dollars in grants with 1 million each going to five long-standing NYC dance institutions: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, the 92nd Street Y (92Y), and the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at New York University Langone Medical Center's Hospital for Joint Diseases. What a wonderful vote of confidence in the future of the liveliest art in the Dance Mecca of the World! You can read the whole story here: http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/The-Harkness-Foundation-for-Dance-to-Distribute-5-Million-in-Grants-20150112

 

I hope your 2015 is off to a fleet-footed and fantastic start. On with the dance!

 

Sondra

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Dance - Teaching Beyond the Steps

The reason behind the title of the abc for dance curriculum series

Teaching dance is more than have a student copy steps that you dance.  It is about teaching a solid foundation that can be built upon.  Encouraging students to look at the qualities that make up a movement.  Including expression in class and performance and kindling a passion for learning the art and sharing it with others. 
  
There is a certain spark, that elusive something, that makes you want to watch one dancer a little bit more than another.  This can't always be taught, but it should always be given a nuturing and supportive environment to show itself. 
 
Our goal as teachers should be to create well rounded dancers who learn how to think, create and react as well as they dance.  This background will give them the self confidance they need to trust themselves and share more than just their steps with the audience.
Too often students are precluded from following their dreams into a professional career due to gaps in training, injuries (often from over use or poor bio-mechanics) or burn out.  While a very small percentage of students will become professional dancers, we should train every student to their full potential.  The skills that are taught during a well rounded and presented dance education carry into every aspect of a student's life and help to shape them into the people that they will become.
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