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Michelle_Richer

Simply Adult Ballet

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Hi Michelle,

 

I posted last week on this thread on the News and Info forum about my experience of the Absolute Beginner and Improver classes, on Monday 30/09 with Mark Kelly, which also took place in the Linden Studio:

 

https://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/21020-press-release-the-mayor-of-london-officially-opens-english-national-ballet’s-new-home-in-east-London/

 

I was just wondering - did you, like me, find the studio flooring to be extremely sticky?  I'm sure @LinMM would also be really interested to know.

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Hi RuthE

 

Like you I did both classes in one evening, the Intermediate followed by the Advanced, at the end of the evening there was a bit of a chat with a few of us and our teacher Kate, one of the guys mentioned a sticky floor but I didn’t experience it. Tendu’s were absolutely fine, I do recall going for a double in one of the pirouette exercises, it seam to almost stall towards the end of the second turn but I just put that down to me. I see a friend of mine manage a double OK.

 

I know when I was at the old studios in South Kensington, there was a period when the smaller downstairs studio was extremely sticky and tendus were virtually impossible, you had to cheat them by virtually lifting the foot off the floor before moving it out. At the time the floor used to leave a blackish deposit on the bottom of your ballet slippers, I ended up complaining for several weeks. More recently both of my classes were in the large upstairs studio and that was always fine.

 

In terms of the floor at the new building I would rate the slippyness, if there is such a word, as similar to my own studio which has a Harlequin sprung floor with Harlequin Cascade vinyl covering. At least 3 studios I use every week do have wood flooring, they are considerably slippier. I guess it’s what one is used too, I was perfectly happy with the new ENB floor and I have already spoken to LinMM about their floor and of course LinMM has sampled the floor in my studio too.

I am also aware that temperature in my studio does have an effect on slippyness of the vinyl floor covering(less slippy as it gets colder), but I don’t think that would be an issue for ENB.

 

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A couple of week ago I performed my last of Odalisque solo’s (the one with all the Briese’s) for the ladies of my local Silver Swans. That is something I’ve been doing for a while now, even though I only attend them every other week, I do perform a solo in costume for them every time. Gradually more and more of the ladies have shown an interest in joining me for something simple.  So that week I cleared it with their teacher and then asked them if they would like to join me as my Corps de ballet for a piece of Swan Lake. I had anticipated around 6 to 8, however I was asked by at least a couple that I thought would not want to be part of it, but asked if they could try it, wow that’s brilliant however it does set me another challenge, as when the piece is finished I would like it showcased on video for our patron  with all our Ladies in Romantic tutu’s. I already have 4 and was anticipating buying 4 more low cost ones from my local ballet shop, however those are no longer available and the ones that are, are considerably more expensive. Needless to say I’m now designing a low cost romantic tutu kit, hopefully for them to sew, but I will buy and supply all the materials, potentially that could be up to 17 tutu’s. Although I know the majority of them would not be willing to wear a leotard, I guess if we can substitute that for a white T shirt which would be more acceptable to them.  They will not need these until close to Christmas. The piece I will be teaching them is essentially the Coda from Act 2, as I will kick it off by dancing Odette’s solo which precedes it, they will dance a very simplified version of the corps coda, I will then come in with the Coda solo for Odette, then finish the group piece with all of us into our little finale for the final photo pose.

 

Tuesdays for me is a day of extremes with one week of  Silver Swans, with the following week of Cecchetti Advanced 2.

 

Even the Advanced 2 isn’t strait forward, I’ve had several queries which I have raised with my teacher, she has two teaching colleagues that she has passed my queries too, their response has been, they will not teach this standard until the accompanying DVD is released. I have also emailed the faculty of Cecchetti at the ISTD but they simply don’t reply to my emails on technical queries.

At the moment I am using 4 documents to unravel what is required by the syllabus:

Advanced 2 Examination Specification

A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing (Cecchetti Method)

The Theory and Practice of Allegro in Classical Ballet (Cecchetti Method)

The Theory and Practice of Advanced Allegro in Classical Ballet (Cecchetti Method)

I am also using the full set of video downloads for Cecchetti Advanced 2 from Cecchetti Australia, although they look very similar, both me and my teacher are uncertain as to how well the exercises fit the UK standard.

 

Although I miss alternate Tuesday for this class, I do see my teacher for a Body Conditioning class every Wednesday evening, I usually query what was taught on the weeks I miss which at least help me stay up to date.  

 

My other main activity of the week is preparation for pointe , as I’ve substituted one of my private rep coaching session for prep for pointe. I see there is another thread on that topic so there is little point in me posting here, although it’s likely to be quite different with an awful lot of homework.

 

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Have you seen the dvd of the final cecchetti diploma Michelle? This is the definitive cecchetti work and may help you with style as advanced 2 is building up to this. The cecchetti work follows a style rather than being random exercises so you’ll recognise a lot of the style and work from advanced 2 (it’s just harder!). 

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Hi Peony

Thank you for the link, yes I was aware of that DVD, I came across it when I did a Global search for Advanced 2 DVD’s, furthermore my rep coach also gave me that link to the ROH shop too. That DVD is quite expensive at £99, but then all of the Cecchetti DVD’s tend to be expensive at £55 from the ISTD shop. I chased the ISTD some time ago and finally got a response from Catherine Hutchon, Chair of Cecchetti Society Classical Ballet Faculty to indicate they were hoping for the end of this term for it to be released, I guess by Christmas.

 

For me when I run up against an unfamiliar term, when its danced in terms of musicality it need to make sense, and one of those movements didn’t, it was a new term that had crept into Advanced 2 that wasn’t in Advanced 1, it was simply “Battement Releve”, it had been mis-interpreted as a variation of the Battement Releve Lent from the Russian School, and what was used for me simply didn’t fit the music properly and when queried, it seamed it was a new term to everyone. That said I hunted around for a you tube example on the internet, or description on an on-line ballet dictionary too, but nothing found.

Eventually I did a global search of all major Cecchetti Establishments and the only one that had DVD’s or downloadable  videos for Advanced 2 was Cecchetti Ballet Australia Inc, at first the UK wasn’t on their country list to export but they placed the UK on it for me. So at least I now have some idea of what to expect, but I am also aware there may well be minor differences too. “ our Battement Releve take place after the working leg is extended out to pointe tendu, the heal momentarily drops then returns back to pointe tendu. Strangely enough I sat in on Vienna Festivals Ballet pre-show warm-up and during their barre, Emily their ballet mistress said “releve” and then dancers heals went down, wow I thought Cecchetti training. Later I asked Emily about the Battement releves, she also commented it’s used in the Russian school too.

 

Even at today’s class I have another query on the precise definition on one of the centre practice movements, even though we have the Australian video to help us. The words and what takes place don’t quite gel. The Exercise has turn and this is what it states

“Execute two fouette type movements’ en tournant en dedans that is:

Open right foot to second position, en l air, so that the pointe is raised 4 inches from the ground, and immediately sweep the foot across the ground and bring it sur le cou de pied devant.

REPEAT the movement with the same foot and bring it sur le cou de pied derriere

During these two fouette’s execute a pirouette dedans, returning to face 5” (Corner 5 in Cecchetti is in front / audience.

 

Firstly it may just be a play on words “ Sweep the foot across the ground”, in the video the foot moves as the first part of a flick flack close to the floor, it doesn’t touch the floor.

My impression is that this is actually a turning flick flack, however in the video there what I think is a bit of a cheat as on the turn with the gesturing leg at cou de pied when it should be going through changement from front to back , in the video example the gesturing foot actually just touches the floor about 2/3rds round, to give a little extra push to finish face front.

 

At the moment we are waiting for the definitive UK version Advanced 2 DVD

 

As for the Cecchetti Diploma DVD, I guess ultimately I will get it when I have done the Advanced 2 to death, however I am not following a qualification path as my passion is dancing repertoire from the classics

 

 

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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I recognise that whole flick flack turning exercise at the barre it's often used in one class I attend though it's not a Cecchetti class. The flick flack part is usually fast ....a sort of quick one two count. 

 

Also the exercise you are describing ....or rather Cecchetti is describing ..as battement releve is another fairly common exercise set at the barre but had no idea that it had a set name etc. Also,that exercise is not a particularly advanced one for the barre so am surprised .....if the supporting leg stays on the flat that is....that it's in an Advanced 2 syllabus. Though some schools ...usually Russian do a lot if warm up tendu type exercises ...but more in a free class than a syllabus class. 

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Hi Linda

 

I was like you, I had done the movement with the heal down thing hundreds of times before, but never knew its name or even if it had one. My problem with this movement was, it wasn’t being done like that, whilst I could make the first set in the barre sequence work with 2 counts per movement (4 count for twice through) the second set had three movements in 3 counts, that was just messy and felt wrong, when I queried it, there was a lot of uncertainty, and what was being done was a lift, which was a corruption of a Battement releve lent. In the second set of Battement releves, there should be only one tendu out, the heal drops are on each of the 3 counts only, however after the drop on count3 the foot lift of the floor in preparation for 16 battement degages (Battement Glisses in non Cecchetti), first one to derriere.

 

It was just the name of that step that caused confusion, needless to day that step is only a small part of the overall exercise.

One characteristic of their naming convention is to have a standard exercise which is the smaller one, followed by an additional, the additional means it has some additional movements embedded in it and slightly more complicated.

 

My turning flick flack is my interpretation as it seams to make sense, for us it is a centre practice exercise, there are two version one slow and the other quick. Neither of us can get through both sides twice with the music, even the so called slow one is quite fast. Basically you just have to know it, it has to be in the body as there is no thinking time. Doing it without music and having a little thinking time is no problem.

 

The fast one will be a real challenge.

 

Most of the exercises in the Examination Specification are cross referenced in one of the three reference books I mention in my previous post, although they are generally very detailed, there is sometimes a little something missing, one that I’ve pickup a couple of times,  is certain movement that are done on a releve (conventional ), it often doesn't state where you returned to flat supporting foot, for me that’s feels intuitive, however when I have queried it with my teacher, if it doesn’t say, you stay on releve, if we have a moan, her responses is you’re big girls now you can do it. Thank goodness we have the Australian videos, at least it sorts out those.

 

One of the things I’ve found quite irritating at the barre, is the position of the arm away from the barre, in generic ballet classes its usually placed in second, but in Cecchetti it assumes fifth en bas, I feel a bit like a penguin in a strait jacket and quite often I forget initially until after the exercise has started and realise my arms drifted to second. However there is some really nice port de bra exercises in the Examination specification one of those I have adapted for use as part of my pointe strengthening which takes place on a balance board, with the gesturing leg at retire and the supporting leg flat. Most of our port de bra exercises incorporate grand battement with changing position, those I’ve obviously taken out. If noting else it really strengthens the supporting leg with nice music and beautiful movements, just love it.

 

 

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Mark Kelly usually throws that flickflack thing at you. I can't help, I invariably go around them the wrong way

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It took me a while the first few times to get the hang and rhythm of it 🙄

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I haven’t studied advanced 2 so not sure of the first exercise you describe but the turns are similar to a flic flac (which I think is an RAD term?). The Toe makes contact with the floor when going devant and derriere- so 2 contacts per turn. It’s introduced without the turn, in intermediate,  I think. It’s well worth practising it like that first as it is a very quick movement. 
as far as the traditional and additional exercises, what that means is that the exercises originally taught by cecchetti are termed traditional and the modern exercises additional. Some of the traditional exercises are in 5th en bas as that was the original method but they also tend to use quite a bit of epaulement and inclined head etc which doesn’t work with an arm in second. It also keeps your centre of balance in the right place. The additional exercises use more arms as is the modern thing!  The style is also different e.g. height of leg is lower for traditional. If you were to do the exam you have to know both versions and the examiner asks for which they want- it’s a huge syllabus!

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Hi Peony

 

Many thanks for the definition of “Traditional” and “Additional” exercises as used in Cecchetti Ballet, I must bow to your extensive historical knowledge of Cecchetti. After seeing your posting I did do a search for your definition in both each of the Advanced 2 course documentation and also on line, unfortunately I could find anything, I wonder if you would please share your reference.

 

As for the flic flac according to Gail Grants Technical “Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet” it came from the Russian School. Her mention of the contact with the floor she describes it as “brushing the ball of the foot along the floor passing through fifth position and finishing with the pointed toe crossed in front beyond sur le cou-de-pied”

I cant help but think the length of time the foot is actually brushing the floor is quite variable if in fact it does actually touch, I definitely would never describe it as solid as a “CONTACT WITH THE FLOOR” the time in the clip below is extremely short but is very much in line with the young lady demonstration the advanced 2 exercise.

 

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=723697021039921

 

The comment that I made about the Advanced 2 video “in the video example the gesturing foot actually just touches the floor about 2/3rds round, to give a little extra push to finish face front.”. After looking at this again in slow motion the dancer dances this exercise each side twice through, only the first time does her foot accidentally hit the ground which I would use your words as in “contact with the floor”.

 

However what I have discovered, the following exercise which should be faster version of the one described, is danced somewhat differently although the caption of movement preceding the exercise is the same. My first thought was the UK and Australian versions may be different, however the Australian videos caption, doesn’t match what the dancers doing, but it does fit the music. Just some of the little inconsistencies we come across.  

 

Your comment “If you were to do the exam you have to know both versions and the examiner asks for which they want- it’s a huge syllabus! “

 

Firstly I agree whole heartedly, it is a huge syllabus.

 

Secondly we are always dance both versions.

 

Thirdly not only are we covering the whole syllabus we are covering the none exam exercises too, that is all combinations where the dancer has a choice in the exam, eg 2 from 4 different types of turns.

 

Fourthly learning a combination in our small group (2 dancers)  is quite a slow process as it has to be thorough. Mainly it’s a detailed study of the references from the associated documents which are quite detailed, so a bit of a debate follows and we walk it through; it really is a joint effort from all three of us, where a quality training video would help enormously. What we now have is extremely helpful but I guess non of us fully trust it to be exactly the same as the UK version, but it is a lot better than nothing

 

Fifthly once we have learnt a combination we are expected to dance it from its description each time our teacher calls for it. There is no following the teacher at this level.

 

With only 2 of us, our teacher gives lots of helpful corrections, you cant help but learn, however you know when she is displeased, thats when you get the same correction a second time, even a week or two later. For me I like it even better when I get the opportunity to do a one-to-one with her, usually when our other dancer is on holiday. There is one tiny thing that sets her apart from most other teacher which I think is a bit special, its when we part company at the end of class and we say our goodbyes. As I only attend that class every other week, I usually say “I will see you ???” and she will always reply “Oh yes please”, that really makes one feel special and valued.

 

 

 

 

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Just learnt from teachers who are active in the cecchetti society/ have passed the final diploma etc. There is a list of teachers with the final diploma somewhere, they’d need to know all the style/theory so could give you a definitive answer. Do you mean you do additional on one side and traditional on the other side at the barre? I think teachers will generally only demonstrate the first few times in a syllabus class as the end goal is to be able to take the exam so best to learn it sooner rather than later!

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Hi Peony

 

I didn’t mean that we did additional on one side of the barre and traditional on the other, however some times we do. Its teacher’s choice as how we do a particular exercise on both sides or not as with the direction. Doing a single exercise on one side and a different exercise on the other is more about time management and leaving sufficient time for exploring exercises that we haven’t yet covered as they are seldom strait forward. I guess its also worth pointing out our other dancer is a ballet teacher in her own right, in fact my first ballet teacher.

 

Ok about your comment “There is a list of teachers with the final diploma somewhere”. I have contacted Sharon Orme coordinator of the faculty for Cecchetti at the ISTD for the contact details of one of their guru’s that would be able to help us with the interpretation/queries that we have with the Syllabus exercises, but as usual no response, what a surprise.

I contacted the same office through email, text and phone, I even  intended to visit them to get a response to when the UK DVD would become available, eventually it was kicked upstairs to Catherine Hutchon Chair of the Cecchetti Society Classical Ballet Faculty before I got a response, so I am by no means passive.

I just wish they were as responsive and helpful as Cecchetti Ballet Australia Inc.

 

Finally, I would be grateful if you would share the reference to your definition of Traditional and Additional, as requested in my previous post.  

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Michelle, the "traditional" exercises as Peony says are the ones exactly as described in the first Cecchetti manual. The "additional" ones are modern choreography brought in in order to update the syllabus to prepare dancers better for present day performance careers. Enrico Cecchetti himself greatly disliked things such as adding ports de bras to barre exercises, as he believed it deflected the dancer's full focus from the primary purpose of the exercise. (He also wanted dancers to bend their knees while in the air during sautes - but obviously that is no longer done in ballet, so clearly the "pure" Cecchetti technique has already had to evolve with the times in some ways prior to the additional barre exercises being added. One of his other pet hates was petits battements being done "too high" with the toes off the floor - he insisted that it was the heel, not the toe, of the working foot that should be on the cou-de-pied, and the toes should be in contact with the floor throughout.)

 

As someone posted above, the new Diploma DVD will contain many of the movements and exercises used in Advanced 2 as well as give a fuller explanation of the Cecchetti technique.

 

Sorry, I don't have an actual reference for what I have said here, but I do remember this explanation being given, possibly in the ISTD Dance magazine, when the Advanced 2 syllabus was first changed. The other details about Cecchetti were from an old article I read in the Dancing Times many years ago - it could have been written by Richard Glasstone but I can't be certain of that now, as it was many years ago when I read that!

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I think the pointed toe in petit Battements is more natural for when on demi pointe or full pointe 

But Russian classes often use the pointed toe even when on flat.

It has a totally different feel to the heel forward action. Probably if this is performed properly with a good wrap position when in derrière the foot would keep in touch with the floor more. 

I like both so adapt to different teachers though I find its easier to get a rapid petit battement going with the pointed foot position.

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10 hours ago, youngatheart said:

he insisted that it was the heel, not the toe, of the working foot that should be on the cou-de-pied, and the toes should be in contact with the floor throughout.)

 

I've done most of the Cecchetti syllabus up to & including Advanced level (before it was split into all the different levels as now) and this is the way we were asked to do petit battements - it trains the wrapped foot. The [old] Advanced syllabus is very beautiful to dance, with a lovely mix of very simple stuff, and quite difficult stuff (anyone for a pirouette from fifth, starting with a grand plié?

 

But really, ballet is ballet is ballet - a properly trained dancer should be able to do whatever the choreographer (or teacher) asks for - arms kept in first or bras bas for the warmup/earlier exercises at the barre for example - that's not just a Cecchetti thing - I've had teachers ask for it in other styles & in open classes. IT keeps you focussed and also keeps you thinking of controlling your body within its kinesphere.

 

As for contacting the Cecchetti Society: as far as I know, they are mostly  volunteers or very busy - and will probably respond best through a registered teacher member. It's a membership organisation at its foundation.

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I learnt the definitions from my teachers Michelle. As mentioned they have access to a lot more than students through the cecchetti society and summer schools, short courses etc. There are regular ones for the vocational grades including adv 2 which include demonstrations etc so perhaps you could persuade your teacher to attend? Also when entering students for exams the examiner will feed back to the teacher if things haven’t been taught quite correctly. 

The explanation for the relaxed petit battlement I was given is that it’s much more difficult to

lose turnout from that position, much easier to do a sloppy one in the pointed position! The pointed toe in releve is used in vocational grades but the other position has been practised (perfected?!) in the lower grades by then. Also that position is the correct one in the cecchetti syllabus for other exercises like frappe (flexed foot rather than relaxed!). I’m sure I learnt frappe with foot higher up on the ankle but it’s possible I just wasn’t doing it properly and nobody noticed! 
I was also going to make the same point as Kate N that the cecchetti society positions are voluntary and staffed by busy teachers/ examiners. The quickest way to find something out that isn’t in the usual texts is usually through a teacher

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1 hour ago, Peony said:

The quickest way to find something out that isn’t in the usual texts is usually through a teacher

 

Yes, @Peony that's the way I learned - I was lucky, my Cecchetti teacher was very experienced, danced professionally, then did her Cecchetti Diploma (higher than Adv 2, and really only suitable for those with professional training as far as I can see!) With her, it was almost bred in the bone as the tradition she'd trained in since she was 8. I did adult open (advanced level I think) classes at Birmingham DanceXchange for several years taught by the BRB soloist, Jonathan Payne, who is a lovely teacher, a great dancer and also a wonderful teacher of the Cecchetti  style - similarly trained I think, from his childhood.

 

As far as I can see and learn from those 2 teachers, it's about having a feel for the style and its nuances, as much as the strict adherence to a textbook.

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Yes, I remember Jonathan’s mother who I believe taught Jonathan up until entering RBS upper school. You would need to be a vocational student or someone with years of dance experience to do credit to the work. I did Elementary and Intermediate at ballet school. It is v different from the RAD style. A lot  of the old school Royal Ballet dancers like Anita Young etc were trained using this method. I remember finding the Advanced hard but syllabus has no doubt changed since then.

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Oh, it's a small world, @Thecatsmother - Mr Payne is a wonderful teacher - so patient and helpful. I remember him once in an Advanced class very patiently breaking down fouettes for me. I can do them to the right, but my fouettes to the left are appalling. He stood in front of me with his hands supporting mine, while I got my balance and the whip all sorted out. And his petit allegro was fiendish but lovely. I miss his classes ..

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Interesting comments my lovely dancing friends.

1)      Kate_N’s comment “it's about having a feel for the style and its nuances, as much as the strict adherence to a textbook.”, I couldn’t agree more, but when things feel intuitively unsound, I find it very difficult accept without proper verification, especially if my teacher is unsure too”, these are quite rear events so please don’t get hung up on my comments.

For me now, I have two main video references, a full set of Advanced 2 video downloads from Cecchetti Ballet Australia Inc and the UK Advanced 1 DVD. The presentation by the dancers are somewhat different the Advanced 1 DVD seams very clinical and without emotion, almost boring to watch. Where as the Advanced 2 from Australia, the dancer at least smiles and appear to enjoy their dance including the barre. On the down side some of the Australian videos demonstrating  double attitude and arabesque turns are somewhat insecure as they almost approximate a promenade. Even so I still have a few issues with both video sources about the absolute correctness of some movements within certain enchainements.

 

2)      Several have made the comment, that queries should be made to the teacher, in simple terms I have. I’m also aware that my teacher has addressed queries through two other teachers, I have no idea how they fit into the faculty at the ISTD, qualifications or membership, however what I am aware of (from my teacher) that they are not teaching the Advanced 2 Syllabus until such time as the UK Advanced 2 DVD is released.

That result for me in the short term is, I’m not likely to get my issues resolved fully, other than a consensus of what we three think. But it I think it must be clear by now that I am not one to wait.

 

3)      What is really disappointing, is when I have raised issues with the Cecchetti Faculty, they have largely been ignored, to me that is down right rude and unacceptable, a simple reply to say “I’m sorry we can’t help you with that”, would have been better than nothing, otherwise one is waiting in anticipation unnecessarily. It begs the question “Is this part of the wider ballet culture that has evolved”, the reason I ask this, when I was with the Alive Ballet Company, it was a real issue getting email replies from studio’s and performance venues by my Artistic Director, so much so I took over the roll of production manager to make things happen, I had the time and the mindset, the strategy was simple; If I got no email reply with a couple of days, I would follow up with a phone call, that resolved most, if that was unsuccessful then I would visit the afternoon before my rehearsal.  Although the strategy was simple it was still an awful lot of work with sometimes up to 60 venues to check out for availability and costs for two dance companies, as we had a Contemporary dance company too which also had to be catered for. To be fair I quite enjoyed it and took on the roll of Head of Costume and Music Editor too. It was a sad day when our Founder and Artistic Director emigrated with her family to Australia, however it looks like us dancers who were with Alive Ballet Company in London will be invited out as guest dancers in Australia towards the end of 2020, can’t wait.

 

4)      As for LinMM comment on petit battement, my experience has been similar, but the wrapping leg has mostly been off the floor for a full foot supporting leg, I’ve been racking my brains as to who taught keeping the wrapping foot in contact with the floor, always remembered it as polishing the floor, and of course Cecchetti does, one of my very first correction. On releve the supporting foot for Cecchetti should be on ¾ pointe and the wrapping foot just off the ground (toes are inline with the arch of supporting foot). This is the same for both Traditional and Additional,  but as Kate_N indicated arms are different, 5th en bas traditional and second additional, the only other difference in our barre exercise is 16 petit battements battus (Serre), have been added with a slow port de bras to additional. Initially traditional and additional start the first part of the exercises on full foot, similar with frappes. The only time I do petit battements on a full foot now, with the wrapping leg at cou-de-pied is on a balance board.

 

I guess in some ways this has been one of the best classes I’ve attended for actually learning, both in terms feedback and then having to successfully repeat the movement with corrections correctly, everything is closely scrutinised but in a really nice way. The one thing I find annoying difficult to do, is Cecchetti very basic port de bras, Not the port de bras exercises themselves, they are quite nice and very pretty, love them. But it’s mainly that which is used in barre exercises. Whilst I know what is expected, my view is it just seams far too stiff and without feeling, even taking that on board, I really cant freeze my wrist action on breaths or opening to second Grrr, it almost involuntary. My teacher refers to it as being wafty, but to be fair I have suppressed my quite wafty flamboyant port de bras which I think originated from my days with ENB. I remember having a conversation with Sarah Lamb at a rep workshop on Juliet’s solo from act 1 about port de bras with the skirt, she very much frown on it , although its was  used by Alessandra Ferri when she danced as Juliet, I really like it and  incorporated in my version I took up to Ballet West this year. Similarly Natalia Osipova does a beautiful port de bras with her skirt in Giselles solo of act 1, again another one I incorporated.

 

I guess that’s my other passion, dancing rep. Hence I can only attend my Cecchetti class once every two weeks, the other is at my local Silver Swans, at least there I get a captive audience to perform a different solo in costume each time I see them every two weeks. I just wish I could incorporate both every week.

 

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16 hours ago, Michelle_Richer said:

The one thing I find annoying difficult to do, is Cecchetti very basic port de bras, Not the port de bras exercises themselves, they are quite nice and very pretty, love them. But it’s mainly that which is used in barre exercises. Whilst I know what is expected, my view is it just seams far too stiff and without feeling, even taking that on board, I really cant freeze my wrist action on breaths or opening to second Grrr, it almost involuntary. My teacher refers to it as being wafty, but to be fair I have suppressed my quite wafty flamboyant port de bras which I think originated from my days with ENB.  

Yes, I totally agree with you re the (lack of) wrist actions - I made the reverse journey from Cecchetti to other styles and it was like: "What? You mean not only is it OK for me to waft now, but you actually WANT me to? Joy!!!".

 

Re the lack of port de bras at the barre - the point is that to Cecchetti, barre exercise were not regarded as choreography, but as technique, flexibility and strength drills, sort of like scales and arpeggios to a pianist, or situps and press-ups to an athlete. So the main point would be for example, how much faster and how many more perfect battements degages (aka glisses) can you do before starting to lose your technique. Nowadays the barre is used to train everything, including aspects of prformance, not just foot strength, turnout and endurance!

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‘Wafting’ feels great, on the looks front I’m in the ‘less is more’ camp though🤣 I’ve done some of the work in a few different syllabi and I think the real ‘wafting’ arms are only seen in free classes and on some of the pros. I guess it’s just personal taste whether it’s something you like

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It's interesting the different experiences we all have. I've studied both Cecchetti & RAD syllabi (Elementary/ Intermediate/Advanced in the old scale) and I always found the Cecchetti work to be more "dancey." And in the class I did today at Steps on Broadway, the teacher specifically noted Cecchetti when talking to me about setting an adage in a 'neo-classical' style (she used to dance with NY City Ballet, I think).

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10 hours ago, Kate_N said:

It's interesting the different experiences we all have. I've studied both Cecchetti & RAD syllabi (Elementary/ Intermediate/Advanced in the old scale) and I always found the Cecchetti work to be more "dancey." And in the class I did today at Steps on Broadway, the teacher specifically noted Cecchetti when talking to me about setting an adage in a 'neo-classical' style (she used to dance with NY City Ballet, I think).

 

I agree wrt the old RAD Vocational syllabus being less “dancey”.  Dd did the old Advanced 1 and the new Advanced 2 and in her opinion, the latter is much more “dancey” and less a series of exercises.   

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It seams that I have come to a bit of a cross roads with ballet, as I now need to change things somewhat.

Firstly: I have lost the lady that has been both coaching my rep and also preparing me for pointe.

Sadly for the time being she is leaving teaching dance at her school and taking up full time work outside of dance, never the less she is still carrying on looking after the admin there, her two remaining teachers are taking up the slack. God how I will miss her, we have been working together one-to-one twice a week for something like 6 years. However she has offered the possibility of doing the odd infrequent session at my studio, but I have said leave it until you have settled in as it would be a big ask on my part.

 

The rep side for Ballet West, most is already there as we were not able to dance it this year through injury.

 

As for pointe strengthening, it’s a case of carrying on with the same plan until the shoes go on, then I have a pretty good idea who will assist me with that.

So I guess I will be looking for a one-to-one coach for only one day a week initially, I have a couple in mind, but the relationship between a teacher and coach is much different, so I hesitate just a bit in using one of my existing teachers.

 

 

Secondly: Cecchetti isn’t going quite as well as it should, mainly because I miss alternate weeks. Although I see my Cecchetti teacher every week for body conditioning and try and quiz her on the session I’ve missed, sadly I was given the wrong info about the last session. Instead I was well prepped up on what I was expecting as it made sense against the flow we had through the Syllabus, other than the number of reps were a little different in the Australian video version. Grrrr on the next session I attended, it turned out that they had be doing something different.

 

I know it would make more logical sense for me to attend that class every week, but to a degree my heart sometimes does tend to rule my head, even so I have asked my Cecchetti teacher if I can do a one-to-one with her every week. It just didn’t get the enthusiastic response I was expecting, but she didn’t say no.

 

Thirdly: My conflict is the alternate weeks with the Silver Swans, although I learn absolutely nothing from the class, I have enjoyed immensely performing solo’s for them during their break between ballet and tap classes every week I go. I think my last piece for them was the Odalisques third solo.

 

Just before the last half term break I canvassed opinion as who would like to join me in dance, as one of the ladies played the queen in the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain variation for me with various mime gestures passing between us during the dance, she loved it 

I was overwhelmed by the response, however it was short lived; when I went back to that class I had only 2 volunteers for my Corps de Ballet in a simplified version of the Coda of Act 2 Swan Lake. As I had everything prepared I decided to kick it off with my two dancers in the hope of inspiring some more. The teacher asked how many do I heed for the absolute minimum, I said 6, but I could probably just about make it work with 4 (Just hoping for more as potentially we have 17). The next session they manage 3 and I was fully prepared to abort it and sadly let that class go. Magically a fourth person appeared. We went though what I had scheduled for them in week 1 and 2, but progress is extremely slow.

To help them I have fully documented their rep with pictures of all significant positions and poses. Not only do I dance it with them, I dance the next session for them as a preview so they know what to expect rather than apprehensive of the unknown. If I can successfully pull this together for a showcase for the school, then I really will need to attend every week to keep continuity with them. In that case I will have to persuade my Cecchetti teacher to do one-to-one sessions with me. However when I’m not conducting the Swans rehearsal, it’s my intention to drop back to every other week with them and carry on dancing my solos for inspiration. As for Cecchetti I would continue the one-to-one session but attend the other class on alternate weeks.

 

Christmas: I guess I’ve finally succumbed to the idea of  getting the Cecchetti  Diploma DVD for my own Christmas present, after all if all that strict discipline get to much for me,  I can always go back to ENB to regain my freedom of expression, as this is what it felt like as I enjoyed one of their on-stage workshops this weekend at Milton Keynes.

 

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Although it seams strange running up to Christmas without my rep coaching sessions, at least some things are coming together.

 

When I arrived at the Silver Swans before their class, it seamed unlikely we would get enough dancers to proceed. At the end of the class I was fully expertly to have to call a halt to teaching our showcase piece, but miraculously we had 6 dancers. It probably sounds a bit crazy that I now have 2 columns of 3 dancers for my Coda Corps de Ballet. This week I danced their steps with them as a member of the corps, but with Odette’s gestures for their cues, they seam to get on much much better.  That was my last week with other than the 10th which is their Christmas lunch, which of course I will attend.  

 

Cecchetti: I’ve finally got my teacher to agree to do weekly one-to-one with me, which releases me to attend the Swans every week while I’m conducting their rehearsal. Once we have this piece finished, I will return back to attending every other week and dance a solo for them as it has become expected. The next Swans piece I will launch around Easter. As for Cecchetti when I’m not with the Swans I will get both Cecchetti sessions in during that week.

 

I’ve just started on phase 2 upgrade of my home studio to a mini performance recording space. My first acquisition is a PIXIO robot Cameraman, it’s a camera system that track a dancer wearing a tracking device. I haven’t yet selected the actual camera as apart from 4 K UHD and possibly auto zoom, but it must have external audio/mic input, as my audio is processed and comes from a mixing desk for special effect if needed. Backdrop and lighting is next.

 

 

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Wow Michelle don’t understand a word about your new camera set up but sounds amazing.

Glad you’ve got your classes sorted out finally 

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