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Why do [almost] all variations end on the right?


Lisa O`Brien
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This has been puzzling me for some time. It doesn't matter what the ballet is,or whether it is a male or female solo. It suddenly occurred to me that almost all classical variations all end in the right hand corner of the stage. Is there a specific reason why this is?

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Maybe because a lot end with a turning sequence of men's leaps in a ménage around the stage and because most will turn to the right the circle goes to the right ending across the front of the stage and finishing in the right corner??

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Variations usually finish with a diagonal sequence (for increasing impact as the dancer moves downstage) or a sequence en manege (virtuosity).  As dances were choreographed on dancers who turned (whether naturally or not) to the right, this means the variation would finish downstage right.

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The Royal Box is usually centre circle in "foreign" opera houses though, isn't it? So I don't think that theory holds. My guess is that it's down to the mechanics of turning. Does a dancer have a choice if they are left-turners? I'm fairly sure I've been taken by surprise a few times.

 

As well as ending downstage right, a lot of variations begin upstage left, to the extent that you can miss the start if you're sitting too far house right. I always aim for a seat on the left of the auditorium if the centre is full.

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Thanks for your answers,everyone. I suppose the mainly right turning theory makes sense. Especially I guess the 19th century classics. I don't suppose either the men or women in that day and age could turn to the left. Or needed to. Cheers.

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But if a dancer is a left turner... Would she be expected to do her variation to the right when it would look better done to the left?! I only recently realised that one of my favourite variations (swan lake pas de trois) becomes so much easier if I do it to the left!!

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Principals get to choose which side they turn.  Lesser mortals have to do what is set!  In fact if you watch male principals, there appear to be a higher proportion of left-handed dancers than there are in the general population. This doesn't seem to be the same for females!

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Principals get to choose which side they turn.  Lesser mortals have to do what is set!  In fact if you watch male principals, there appear to be a higher proportion of left-handed dancers than there are in the general population. This doesn't seem to be the same for females!

 

 

Although I believe that is only with well-established works.  One BRB dancer commented that active choreographers do not necessarily give them a choice.

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DD is a left turner, as was I. She liked the fact that RAD Advanced 1 allows the candidate to choose the side to which to do their fouettés. Pictures, do you think that your DD has been told she has to do the fouettés to the right in error or because the majority of students often seen to be right turners?

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I've investigated further.

 

They are only going to practice to the right as that suits the majority & they do them in groups so dd turning to the left would create problems with bumping into each other etc.

 

Which wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't getting laughed at by people.

God Pictures, I hope she is alright about people laughing and doesn't take it to heart.x

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This is what I have discovered with turning

 

Because my right supporting leg is so much stronger than my left leg ...that in en dehors ( phew had to type that six times before IPad would accept) pirouettes turns I'm better to the left ....in en dedans turns better to the right

Pique turns better to the right and lame ducks better to the left!!

I don't attempt fouettés these days but guess at the mo these would be better to the left too

Deep down think I'm a more natural right turner but once injuries come in it's amazing how you can adapt!

 

I feel for your DD Pictures and cannot think for the life of me why she cannot choose which side to do the fouettés in an Advanced exam like that. It's a bit like making someone write with their right hand when they are left handed just because most people are right handed!!

 

Of course if you were a Principal in the Black Swan pas de deux you would be able to choose your best side for fouettés ......I hate seeing loads of them one after the other anyway even though I accept they are quite a feat ...and 32 is unbelievable!!!

 

I agree it is much more noticeable when a variation finishes to the left as they usually do finish to the right more.

But whether it's about dancers physicality or Royal Boxes etc wouldn't know!!

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Pictures, that is shocking. DD's non-vocational school has always allowed students to choose their preferred side to 'polish' for exams, whilst of course making sure that however bad their other side is, it isn't neglected entirely. It doesn't take long to do the exercise twice, once for the right turners and once for the lefties. And that is in a non-vocational school with an average of about 6 students per Advanced class (they have the option of 5 class times per week and are expected to attend at least 3), where occasionally DD was the only left turner so received one to one attention during the exercise!

 

I hope your letter has some effect. I can't imagine that being laughed at is doing your DD's confidence much good; she should at least have the chance to return the 'favour' by watching the right turners do the exercise to the left!

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Pictures, your daughter should be allowed to turn to her preferred side if this is an option in the exam.

 

My students have to practise both sides regardless (I'm horrid.)

 

I'm very indignant for your lovely daughter (still remember her!)

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Well perhaps they should be shown on both the right and left side in the exam so then everyone will be in the same boat and at least have their best and not so best side tested!!

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If I am not mistaken the pirouette enchainement with the fouettes is a solo and should be practised as such, which means that if it is indeed candidates choice of side, it would not be a problem if someone chose to do it to the left.  Having said that we were always made to do everything to both sides - I could do 32 fouettes right and left in my day (they looked nicer to the right though) and I get very miffed at students who ask me to choreograph the dances for the end of year show to include grand jetes and turns to their better side.  I always tell them and what if a professional choreographer in a company asks you to do something to your less favourite side - are you going to anounce that you can only do it to the other side?  If you do someone else will get the part! 

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  • 1 month later...

Just been watching DSs vaganova graduation exams and notice he is the only left turner in his class. Was quite disconcerting watching them in the variation groups of only 2 or 3 with DS turning left and 2 others turning right! But he was always allowed to turn to his left. Very interesting also is that the Russian ballet exams contain quite a few centre variations where each student does a slightly different variation (to show their strengths)...

I asked DS about being a left turner and he said its a bit like being left handed- less common but not exactly a total rarity. And he says they would re choreograph any solo for the individual's turning preference....as you say though for the corps I guess you just have to manage...

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