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Simply Adult Ballet: the progress of one adult dancer who took up ballet later in life


Michelle_Richer
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As we are not in court and neither of us is a Barrister, there’s really no need to refer to me as your “learned friend”, Michelle. 😉

 

While you were away, the subject of adult pointework came up on this thread, which you may find interesting.

 

 

As you have already started pointework, I would hope that one of your Teachers would have already gone through the basic requirements for safe pointework, but just in case, here they are from the Gaynor Minden website:  https://dancer.com/ballet-info/in-the-studio/when-to-start-pointe/

 

Obviously the question of bone ossification does not apply to adult dance students, but the other requirements of strength (not just in the feet and ankles, but also in the knees, core, glutes and back muscles), body weight, willingness to learn, lack of physiological impingement, and most of all, excellent, solid, basic ballet technique on demi-pointe (including turnout and the strength and ability to *hold* turnout) AND the required mobility in the foot and ankle joints - all do apply to anyone starting pointework.  

 

Oh, and “Elevé” is not a slang word; in French it means “raised”, and in ballet it’s a rise onto demi-pointe or full-pointe without a plié.  Not a spring or jump, just a rise.

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

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My feet are testimony to Anna’s post!!! 
In the 50’s children were often put onto pointe before they were fully ready so often did not have enough strength in the back to get onto pointe without putting too much stress on the knees and ankles. 
This of course can ruin young feet though probably not so acute for adults whose feet are already fully grown. 
My feet were growing perfectly straight until I started pointe work at 10 years old though it was a very minimal amount initially of course.  
These days most good ballet schools delay pointe work until at least 12 and only then if the student has reached a reasonably advanced stage of ballet which can be quite young in some students.
In adults it is a difficult area as even some otherwise very good teachers allow pointe work too soon in my view as students wear them down in the end about when will they be able to go on pointe!! 
I would say for adults at least a minimum of three years dancing though adults returning to dance so have got to a certain stage when younger may make this sooner. 
Most adults are quite good at monitoring themselves once on pointe so if having a lot of difficulty won’t get much further than barre work which is fine. 
In many adult classes the adults take off pointe shoes at varying stages in the class and finish in demi pointe when it all gets too much which is a good approach rather than struggling to do everything until the end of the class but not very well. 
For most amateur adults pointe work is never going to be that comfortable as it takes years of training for the professionals to make it look as easy as they do. 

 

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8 hours ago, LinMM said:

Nice piccie Michelle! And no heavy lifting either! I know you like to do things at 110 per cent but a kindly reminder that we are not getting any younger ....I’m waiting for the expletives lol!.......
 

Why should there be expletives Linda ?

 

While I was on holiday in Scotland I played a long-shot as I had been looking for a particular electric outboard motor for one of my boats from marine suppliers near me without any success. I checked the US website for agents in Scotland and found Ardfern Marine, which is about 30miles south of Oban, and not too far from where we were staying.

I rang them, but also they didn’t have the one I wanted in stock, however the proprietor I spoke to thought he may be able to locate one for me, then I said I would need it by Friday as we are leaving for home on the early hours of Saturday morning. Adrian was worried we wouldn't get it in our car with him and all our luggage, especially mine, but with not tutus this year it was fine.

 

I received a phone call from in on Wednesday afternoon that it had arrived at Ardfern, Adrian and I collected it on Friday afternoon. It weighs 17Kg so I can remove it from the boat when not in use. Similarly with the large batteries too (4 x 110AH), not sure on their weight, but they are difficult to lift on to my charging station bench, so we are constructing some steps to design that issue out.

 

The weight of the engine approximates the weight of the Spinnaker bar I hold while doing 30 reps of pumping plies in second but on a permanent rise of high demi, good for the inner thighs, note no pointe shoes (yet).

 

While I can I will

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On 02/09/2021 at 13:50, Anna C said:

 I would hope that one of your Teachers would have already gone through the basic requirements for safe pointework.

 

 

Thank you for the info, most interesting, however I would have thought that you would have known I don’t do “safely” and seek sanctuary in my comfort zone, I do challenging to push my boundaries. Pointework for me isn't something I would like to do, as I can dance solos well enough without. Pointework for me is an essential tool I need for dancing PDD’s, it not the same on flat especially for promenades or partner assisted pirouettes. I also intend to dance through the Cecchetti Advanced 2 pointe work exercises as part of the syllabus too.

 

I think the photo illustrates my attitude and culture I follow.

 

1740184314_Ifwewait.thumb.jpg.a7f612299af39830db107ea6a5f9c790.jpg

 

As for word Eleve, what distinguishes it for being a formal ballet term and not something that evolving from slang.

 

This is from an article in the Pointe Magazine November 2018:

"My biggest pet peeve is the use of the term élevé to describe a relevé without the use of the demi-plié. When I asked a former dancer from the Paris Opéra Ballet about this term, she looked at me with the most curious tilt of the head and asked, “How does élever pertain to ballet? I élève my glass for a toast, I can élève chickens,” which translates as “I raise my glass,” or I can “breed chickens,” “but there is no élevé movement in ballet.” The translation for élever is “to raise, bring up, breed or rear.” The reflexive verb se relever means “to raise oneself, to get up,” so when you do a relevé with straight knees, that’s just what you say".

 

Even though Gail Grans “TECHNICAL MANUAL AND DICTIONARY OF CLASSICAL BALLET” defines it as “Puple, student. The apprentice dancers at the Paris Opèra are known as les èlève’s”

 

However I have a DVD called THE VIDEO DICTIONARY OF CLASSIC BALLET and has it defined under Pointe work 9.0 as 9.1 eleve / rise, which is as you have described

 

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The French word for pupils is written : élèves .....and has nothing to do with relevés or the word élevé. 
Just looking at those two words relevé and élevé I get the feeling the relevé has a sense of bringing together so drawing the legs underneath you more whereas élevé feels more like a rise in situ so for example in 5th position in the relevé your feet would come together and be touching but in an élevé (though personally I’ve not heard that term used in a ballet class) the  feet would be more apart from the 5th position from a straight rising up so to speak. 
I suppose the opposite of your saying is: « Everything comes to those who wait » But this type of waiting isn’t passive it has a meaning of everything in its right time. If you work hard at the right level first you will gain the progression you need to move on to the next level but perhaps in a more organic way. 

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On 12/09/2021 at 18:47, LinMM said:

The French word for pupils is written : élèves .....and has nothing to do with relevés or the word élevé. 
Just looking at those two words relevé and élevé I get the feeling the relevé has a sense of bringing together so drawing the legs underneath you more whereas élevé feels more like a rise in situ so for example in 5th position in the relevé your feet would come together and be touching but in an élevé (though personally I’ve not heard that term used in a ballet class) the  feet would be more apart from the 5th position from a straight rising up so to speak. 
I suppose the opposite of your saying is: « Everything comes to those who wait » But this type of waiting isn’t passive it has a meaning of everything in its right time. If you work hard at the right level first you will gain the progression you need to move on to the next level but perhaps in a more organic way. 

 

Perfectly put, Lin.  I think “Rise” is used much more often in the UK than “élevé” but you are correct; they mean the same thing, and either can be used in class.

 

I agree completely with working hard at the right level first; particularly when it comes to pointework, which can lead to catastrophic injury if not done safely, correctly and properly.  

A gung-ho attitude in ballet class - especially when starting pointe - is not only disrespectful to the Teacher (never mind risking their Public Liability Insurance), but also risks the student’s safety, is discourteous to the other students, disrespectful of the correct process and can be indicative of a lack of maturity and an unwillingness to learn.  

 

Both of these last two would be warning signs for a good Teacher considering whether a student is even ready to begin pointework.

 

As a disabled person who had to learn to walk again after one particular spinal surgery, I know the importance of “slow but steady” and, crucially, accepting my limitations.  This is a hard lesson to learn and has resulted in a lot of tears, but it has taught me to respect my body, to learn patience, and to trust that my Teacher - in my case, my Physio - knows an awful lot more on the subject than I do.  

 

I suppose the “attitude and culture” I follow is “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread”.  🙂

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I think one of the problems with something like ballet ...or any Sport at high level...is that it can be a very fine line between being super fit and on the verge of the body being under par so getting ill OR an over stress injury to set in. 
And stress muscle and joint injuries in particular can be tricky in that they don’t always appear at the time you are putting the actual stress on them! 
You could do 250 repetitions of a particular move one day....and all is fine ...Then just go to do a simple thing like a tendu the next day and your calf muscle or whatever says no!! 
Im not recommending doing loads of repetitions of any exercise ....not even simple rises....30 could be strengthening and 50 a stress injury! There’s no magic number but to try and be really in tune with your body so you can sense when enough is enough. 
Just as we try to be kind to others so it’s better to be kind to your body. That’s how I see it anyway. 
 

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On 12/09/2021 at 18:47, LinMM said:

Just looking at those two words relevé and élevé I get the feeling the relevé has a sense of bringing together so drawing the legs underneath you more whereas élevé feels more like a rise in situ so for example in 5th position in the relevé your feet would come together and be touching but in an élevé (though personally I’ve not heard that term used in a ballet class) the  feet would be more apart from the 5th position from a straight rising up so to speak.

 

 

@LinMM that's the way I've heard the 2 terms used in various studios in several countries, particularly if the teacher wants us to rise without plié or the 'snatch' of a releve. But to be honest, I don't hear the term "eleve" very often - mostly just 'rise onto demi-pointe.'

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