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olver3501

How many degrees oversplit for ballet?

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I train for ballet at home, and as I was sitting in the splits, some questions came into my head:

How many degrees oversplit are good for ballet? How far can the professinonal ballet dancers (female and male)get into their splitstretch?

 

Thank you ;)

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Personally, as a ballet watcher and not a dancer, I think oversplits look hideous.  Having read so much on this forum over the years I also believe they can be dangerous.

 

You mention you train at home.  Are you also taking ballet lessons?

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Hello @olver3501

 

As others have said, splits are not really necessary for ballet - they should come through your training, not as a training aim or goal. 

 

You say you 'train at home' - have you ever been to a ballet class? Ballet isn't something you can really train at by yourself, unless you've had many years of expert teaching. And even then, professional dancers do class 6 days a week, in company with their peers, and class led by ballet masters/mistresses who keep a sharp eye out for dancers' technique. All dancers have things they need to keep working on throughout their lives.  

 

It's hard in pandemic conditions, but as soon as things restart, you need to get to a good class, and develop your technique by a watchful teacher guiding you.

 

Don't worry about the splits. Flexibility in ballet is important for how you are able to use it, not as an end in itself. 

 

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Totally agree with you Jan! It takes ballet away from artistry & pushes it into the realms of acrobatics....

If I want to see extreme body stretches & contortions than I’ll go to the circus, not the ballet! 

 

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10 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

Totally agree with you Jan! It takes ballet away from artistry & pushes it into the realms of acrobatics....

If I want to see extreme body stretches & contortions than I’ll go to the circus, not the ballet! 

 

Seconded!

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Oversplits are dangerous and should be avoided!  Strength to hold the legs in extensions is more important than hyper flexibility.  A beautiful line and correct placement are more important than over the top extensions!  Totally agree that ballet is a performing art not artistic gymnastics!

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In my personal opinion 180 degree, perfect square split grand jetes are beautiful. Over split grand jetes do catch attention, but they’re not my personal preference. 

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I thought the point of a jeté - which after all comes from the French jeter, meaning "to throw" - was for it to go up and then come down again?

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The line of a 19th century-early 20th century grand jeté is an arc, a graceful curve, soaring into the the air and down again. The later 20th century split grand jeté  is a straight 180 degrees so it is more linear, more sharp, energetic, like an arrow. I don't see any aesthetic logic at all in an over split jeté  at all: it just looks difficult without looking beautiful.

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Yes, I did mean an arc.  On re-reading my description, I realise it could apply equally well to a saut.

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They are actually two variaties of the same step, both valid, but the difference between them has become blurred.  The split jeté comes under the "darting" category, the arc is more of a "leap" and yes "goes up and over" , think of Bournonville's jetés en avant in attitude croisé.

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Experts such as @Pas de Quatre can confirm, but in some national systems, isn't there a difference in name to distinguish between the grande jeté that starts with a grand battement, and a grand jeté that starts with a developpé? I seem to recall that the Vaganova system and the French system both distinguish between these by name ...

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The RAD also differentiate between the two, although for the life of me I can't think of the actual terms! However, there is also a difference in RAD between regular grand jetés, those which start with a grands battement but still show an arc, and their jeté élancé (darting jeté) which also starts with a straight legged extension, but is straighter in shape.  

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Oh that's really useful & points out the artistry in all of this @Dance*is*life  I should think that trying to learn to show the difference in feel & look of those two different kinds of grand jetes is more important than split or oversplit.

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On 24/05/2020 at 21:39, Dance*is*life said:

Oversplits are dangerous and should be avoided!  Strength to hold the legs in extensions is more important than hyper flexibility.  A beautiful line and correct placement are more important than over the top extensions!  Totally agree that ballet is a performing art not artistic gymnastics!

 

Totally agree.  My teacher says he'd rather I lifted my leg a small amount  but had the correct posture everywhere else than that I compromised the posture to get my leg up higher.  The first thing to do is to get the line and placement right and then the rest comes over time.  I am saying this as a middle aged amateur who can't do the splits at all. 

 

I also think that particularly if you're doing classes via zoom or remotely where the teacher can't see you or make a physical correction, it's even more important to be conscious of the risk of injury and make sure you're not doing things that might damage you.  So I'm a lot more cautious about how far I push things than I would be in a studio setting.  

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I saw a Youtube video where someone was trying to teach how to become a better dancer by having higher extensions. She showed two photos of before and after and I suppose we were supposed to say Wow at the after photo.  However, I definitely preferred the before photo!  The student held her leg high, beautifully turned out and with perfect hip placement.  On the other hand in the second photo, the "after" one , her leg was by her ear, but her hips and torso were displaced and I didn't see anything aesthetically pleasing about the line.  So no thank you!

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2 hours ago, Dance*is*life said:

I saw a Youtube video where someone was trying to teach how to become a better dancer by having higher extensions. She showed two photos of before and after and I suppose we were supposed to say Wow at the after photo.  However, I definitely preferred the before photo!  The student held her leg high, beautifully turned out and with perfect hip placement.  On the other hand in the second photo, the "after" one , her leg was by her ear, but her hips and torso were displaced and I didn't see anything aesthetically pleasing about the line.  So no thank you!

 

Agreed. Also looking at the dancers I like, I've no idea how far they can do the splits and how high they can lift their leg above their ear.  I like people who have good lines and move well not those who can do the greatest feats of acrobatics.  So I love Vadim Muntagirov because he moves so well.  His jumps are amazing and his partnering is great but I love the clear lines and the togetherness with which he lands from a jump more than anything else.  I love Celine Gittens for her grace of movement and the elegance of her port de bras.  I actually like Royal Ballet for the character artists as much as the principals.  I cry more when Gary Avis dies as Tybalt than I do when Juliet dies because he's that good and my favourite character in Sleeping Beauty is Carabosse if it's played by Kristin McNally.  

 

For me the test of what makes a good dancer isn't how much they can contort, it's whether I can read what they're saying with their bodies from the back of the theatre and nothing pleases me like seeing someone with perfect alignment and clean lines.  The more I study ballet the more I also realise how the hardest things about learning ballet aren't the big dramatic movements but doing the small movements perfectly and keeping every part of the body where it should be.  In class this week the hardest thing was getting everything where it should be in a retire balance and then taking my hand off the barre and keeping them there.    

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Posted (edited)

You are en route to being a true artist Tango Dancer! Toi toi toi! 

Btw....Confession.... I’ve no idea what the Toi thing actually means; please someone enlighten me, thank you! 😁

Edited by Peanut68
Typo

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To answer Kate_N, there is the Italian Pas de Chat, both legs go to retiré.  Can be from 5th to 5th or to 4th.  Russian Pas de Chat, both legs go to low attitude derrière at 45°, with also a Grand Russian Pas de Chat where the attitude goes up to 90°.  Both of these are sometimes called a jeté passé in other methods.  The last is the Grand Pas de Chat jeté which is the one with the front leg doing the developpé into grand jeté.  INcidentally does anyone know if there is a particular name for the step that starts like an Italian Pas de Chat with the front foot and the second foot then closes in front, as seen in the "Fred" step?

 

Peanut68 - Toi toi toi I have always understood to be mimicking the sound of spitting.  There are lots of stories about whether this is on the ground or into your hand to ward off the devil!  Anyone else know?

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Thanks Pas de Quatre.... though almost wishing I’d not asked as the spitting analogy sounds a bit yuck! Mind you, guess it’s like the acting world  with ‘break a leg’..... wish a bad deed to hopefully guard against it as a sort of reverse psychology? I naively thought the Toi thing was more a post performance accalade along the lines of ‘get you!’

So is it more a pre performance saying not post? 

Have heard lots of Bravos  (on my rare ROH visits & at cinema viewings there often seems to be one gentlemen shouting Bravo with gusto!!) but guess I’ve not heard the triple Toi shouted in the auditorium now I come to think about it 🤔

So, the Chuckers (chucked?) that ENB Dancers (others too?) day ore performance.... does that have an equally unpleasant meaning used as an omen for good luck?

so much to learn! 

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Oh I love the story I heard about the Chuckers origins.  I was told that it originated in Australia where theatre performers were paid in chickens.  They would look out into the audiences and gauge its size to estimate how many chickens they would get.  Good luck, many chickens - please let that be true! 

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1 hour ago, Harwel said:

Oh I love the story I heard about the Chuckers origins.  I was told that it originated in Australia where theatre performers were paid in chickens.  They would look out into the audiences and gauge its size to estimate how many chickens they would get.  Good luck, many chickens - please let that be true! 

Chicken used to be  realtively  expensive meat ...  so a full house would be a good pay packet and you'd be able to afford a chicken dinner 

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Posted (edited)

Oh am loving this Chuckers story.... though picturing a top ballerina being faced with a dozen chickens, I’m wondering if they wouid be alive or pot ready??

And then imagining rather pot bellied dancers on stage as all full of chicken  the day after a sell out show 🤣

Edited by Peanut68
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On 25/05/2020 at 06:20, DeveloppeD said:

In my personal opinion 180 degree, perfect square split grand jetes are beautiful. Over split grand jetes do catch attention, but they’re not my personal preference. 

 

As a slightly different opinion, I have been recommended by a number of teachers that in order to get a flat grand jete in the air, it is necessary to be able to achieve a slight oversplit on the floor. You'll never be able to get your legs as high in the air as you can when sitting in a split so if you can sit in a slight oversplit, you'll be able to get your legs 'flat' in a grand jete. It could be argued that it's actually safer to have enough flexibility to achieve a slight oversplit, because then you're not right at the end of your range of motion in explosive motions like a split grand jete or grand battement. I don't think training an oversplit should necessarily be a goal to be achieved above a solid grounding in technique, but the two aren't mutually exclusive.

 

I also think there's a big difference between an oversplit with your feet on two chairs (dangerous and aesthetically displeasing) and a slight oversplit on something like a foam roller. If the splits are already an extreme position but are now, I would say, a fundamental requirement for a career in classical ballet, why is 5cm more range dangerous and also responsible for the destruction of the classical line? I think you'd be hard pressed to find a professional ballet dancer today who can't do an oversplit on at least one leg... 

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10 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

Oh am loving this Chuckers story.... though picturing a top ballerina being faced with a dozen chickens, I’m wondering if they wouid be alive or pot ready??

And then imagining rather pot bellied dancers on stage as all full of chicken  the day after a sell out show 🤣

 'winner winner chicken dinner '  to be said in best aussie accent 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, NJH said:

 'winner winner chicken dinner '  to be said in best aussie accent 

🤣🤣🤣

Edited by Peanut68

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'chookas'😀

 

On the original question.. i think flexibility - aligned with strength - is very important for dancers.  It just needs to be built up carefully over time

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Posted (edited)

That spelling makes sense with the chicken story so I’m laughing at my very British spelling earlier  😂

Edited by Peanut68
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