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Russian Training


tutoo2much
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  • 2 weeks later...

It is lovely to watch these students, I would interested to know what I should be looking at to appreciate the Russian Style as opposed to the British style?

 

Also I counted over 25 fouettes, is this something all ballet students would be able to accomplish at the end of their training?

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Back to the original question - with Russian training what you should notice is expressive strong use of the upper back and épaulement, with breadth of ports de bras and flow to the movement. Extensions of the leg will be high with particularly beautiful arabesques and attitudes. Elevation (jumps) should be good with an ability to cover distance. The Bolshoi stage is several times larger than any in UK so the dancers have to learn to travel. In the early days of UK ballet, the stages used were small, so the English style involved smaller more intricate movements and lots of change of direction - otherwise you would run out of stage!

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The Russian style is really beautiful and it gives the audience very beautiful dancers to look at. Their heads, arms, lines everything tells the audience 'look at me', I am doing it for you. When my daughter had a few private lessons from the teachers in Bristol it really did make a difference to her presentation. I have noticed that the Royal Ballet girls are also very pretty but I believe that they have a Russian teacher there?Sometimes when I see our dancers training they appear to have no expression, they are working hard but their faces are not doing it. The Russian teachers expected to see expression all the time, so the dancers got used to performing at all times. Perhaps it is just SOME of the dancers that I have seen, not ALL.

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I've just started some Russian training (with the Russian Ballet School/Youth Ballet Company in Bristol) and it is quite a bit different to what I'm used to! I'm really enjoying it and hoping to 'shift' my training a little to include more russian style. Apart from the 'obvious' differences (like frappés from a pointed, not flexed, foot) I find there is a much stronger emphasis on carriage of the upper body and expression. For example, whilst standing in croisé in RAD my head faces front, whilst in my Russian classes it should be facing the opposite corner. Also, dancing Russian style seems quite a bit more intense - I am always *really* achy after rehearsals, but that is probably also due to a combination of my body not being used to the style and the fact that class/rehearsal lasts for 4.5hrs!

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Hi David, they are the two teachers that taught my daughter, Yuri and Chika. They are both fantastic at teaching with the added bonus of them both being principle ballet dancers. We could only do a few weeks with them due to the distance, but the few weeks did count and were not wasted.

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They are indeed fantastic and I'm hoping to take some mid-week classes with them alongside my Sunday rehearsals. The fact they have both been Principals means that we get a lot of instruction in the 'performance' side of things which I really appreciate. Plus, Yuri always works specifically on male technique with the guys which I love!

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  • 2 weeks later...

While looking up some info about YAGP I came across an article about Joy Womack and thought this made interesting reading - and the information about girls weight is probably something to be considered if thinking about auditioning for the school:

 

"For Joy, life at the academy quickly proved a far cry from her American routine. Instruction exclusively in Russian all but assured a language and culture gap too big to tackle quickly. The school's focus on discipline meant dancing up to 10 hours a day, six days a week. It did not matter if you were hurting or sick: you showed up and you danced through the pain.

 

A measure of the school's ethos is its strict caps on the students' weight: 96 pounds for those who are 5'6", for instance. Ballerinas tipping the scale at 110 pounds are not allowed to participate in a duet class, but are required to observe it."

 

 

The full article is here:

 

http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/04/07/11061555-texan-teen-to-become-first-american-to-graduate-from-premier-russian-ballet-school?lite

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Weight is a big thing with the academy. The guide lines for somebody of 5ft 6 inch is 50kg (8st) Some of the girls are a little above this weight but do participate in duet classes. Its very harsh, but the teachers are very upfront about it all, no mind games, they will just tell the student if they are required to lose weight. I think if we look at the top classical schools around the world including Royal, the girls are thin. I am not defending the Bolshoi as a lot of the girls are plain skinny.

I will say though that when a student is ill they are told not to come to class and are way over the top about this in my experience. If a student even looks unwell they will be asked to either sit out of class or go to the medics. Heather has been unwell this last week with the virus that is going around, she was desperate to return to class, but was more afraid that the teacher would tell her off for returning before she was ready. Before Christmas Heather had tendonitis at the front of her foot, but would not tell the teacher as she did not want to stop dancing. Fortunately the teacher spotted the problem and she was asked to stop dancing and watch the class. She was also orderd to attend the physio department.

Instruction is in Russian as are all the academic classes, Heather has to study physics, Geography and History alongside some other subjects all in Russian. There are some teachers who speak English, especially in the International dept, however the students are encouraged to use Russian language as much as possible. Heather has only been out there a year and is now fluent with her Russian. Her Grammar still needs some work though.

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Bear in mind, as ever, that BMI is not always an appropriate measure - for example, muscle is heavier than fat, so a very healthy rugby player with hardly any body fat would be classed as overweight by BMI standards. Having said that, weighing dancers doesn't tell an accurate story, for the very same reasons!

 

Good to hear, however, that the Russians are getting the message about resting dancers with illness and injury. Of course the next battle is always to get dance training establishments across the world to understand the causes of illness/injury and then to take steps towards addressing these causes (but I've still got a fair few years of my career to fix that bit!).

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It can actually be easier for a man to lift a woman who weighs a bit more than the stringy dancer. Within reason, of course, it is just as important how she uses her weight to help him, as much as how much she actually weighs.

 

Experienced male dancers often prefer a woman with something to hold on to. A woman with strength can lighten his burden.

 

I think 96 pounds for a 5'6" dancer is a bit too slender.

 

I know that is a minority opinion - but - what else is new? :)

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I think 96 pounds for a 5'6" dancer is a bit too slender.

 

I know that is a minority opinion - but - what else is new? :)

 

I agree - 96 pounds is 6st 12lbs which is too thin for 5ft 6" but Primrose has said that it is more like 8st (112 lbs) which is a lot healthier.

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I agree - 96 pounds is 6st 12lbs which is too thin for 5ft 6" but Primrose has said that it is more like 8st (112 lbs) which is a lot healthier.

 

Yes, you are right - Primrose did say that and I am glad to hear it. My mother who was not a dancer (thus less muscle than a dancer would have) was 95 lbs when she was 20 yrs old. But - she was 5'1" - and very very slender. So, a 5'6" inch girl with dance muscles at 96 lbs would be much too thin. 112 is a better weight -but still very slender.

 

When I was at my full schedule of dancing, rehearsing, performing and teaching, I weighed 130 lbs at 5'7 1/2". When I look at my pictures I look very slender with much bone showing.

 

I never heard a complaint from the men I danced with - in fact - well, - quite the opposite. They appreciated the strength I could add to the partnership.

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I have just converted 50kg to stones and ounces and it is exactly 7st 12 ounces. This is the ideal weight they would like for the tallest dancers, unfortunately the scale does go downwards for the shorter dancers. I think it is a very small weight for the heights, but we have to be honest, do we really see healthy weights dancing across the stages. I actually dont think so. My dd is a bit stressed as the big weigh in is on the 16th of this month, however I have told her that her most important job is to stay healthy both in her body and mind. If students arent the desired weight and I do think that they take on board that some dancers look very think but their weight is actually heavier. Unless you are too heavy and a danger to the boys (lets face it, the boys have to lift these girls and could easily sustain injuries, their future careers need to be looked after) I dont think the girls would be stopped from doing pas de deux class.

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I think you meant 7st 12 pounds, not ounces :)

Yes I think it's a given that all ballet dancers need to be slim for aesethic and practical reasons and all schools have policies in place to address this. What is interesting about the Bolshoi is that they actually specify the actual weight. I don't think any of our British schools actually cite a weight even though most of them weigh and measure height every term. I think I may have seen height and weight specified for Paris Opera School at one time.

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There were quite a few people upset (I think it was mentioned in a thread on the old forum) when a couple of years ago one of the UK main 16+ training establishments sent a letter to the girls saying that they needed a BMI of 18 to be a classical dancer.

 

Did anyone see the article a couple of weeks ago in one of the weekend colour supplements, I think it was the Sunday Times, about auditioning for Crazy Horse? I found it curious that the requirements were also very strict - classical training, height 5ft 6 or 7 ins and weight 54 Kilos (approx 8 1/2 stone). Not a job many of us would like our dds to aim for though!

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The thing is we all know that female ballet dancers are thin, it is when they go too thin we may gasp. These girls are all under pressure to keep the right body shape or weight, so a lot of them control what they eat. It is not nice but we all know it happens. That is why you see so many of them smoking back stage. Athletes also have to be careful of their body size, runners, jocky's, hurdlers etc. I remember been on holiday with my daughter and a friend she met whilst there was training as a runner seriously. The girls family could not believe that my daughter did not follow a specialised diet as her daughter has to. See they were open about what they had to do e.g protiens, iron etc, dancers don't really discuss it or perhaps don't want to discuss it?

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The female dancers in my ds company are beautiful, healthy ladies.

 

My ds certainly has preferred to partner girls who are not like dancing stick insects. He needs his partners to be strong and musical- he says if the timing is right then most lifts are achievable. He personally finds very small, petite dancers the hardest as the centre of gravity is lower and he has to bend down further in the first place, especially if they don't have a natural spring and just expect the man to lift a dead weight.

 

Incidently I was tiny once but although I easily weighed the least in my company I was a dead weight myself. Others who were physically much larger and weighed more were actually easier to lift!

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