Fully stretching the feet as they leave the floor is of utmost importance. There is no better way of strengthening the feet than battement tendu.
nly a few lucky dancers have natural elevation. Elevation depends on the Achilles tendon, the thigh muscles, the muscles at the back of the knee, and demi-plié.
In order for students to develop good balance, instructors must teach correct posture and placement right from the beginning of training. It takes many years of training to develop the strength in the legs and the back needed to balance on demi or full pointe. Start early.
Attitude, a pose that mimics a statue of Mercury, is difficult to achieve correctly. A good way to teach it is for the dancers to work in pairs. One performs the exercise and the other assists in getting the position correct.
A fouetté (short for fouetté rond de jambe en tournant) is a step of virtuosity. The first thing to be strengthened is the relevé.
With the emphasis on high leg elevation, kids think that this is the epitome of technique. Teachers should explain that high leg elevation is only as important as other aspects of classical ballet.
Oregon Ballet Theater’s Coffee Break With the Ballet is a six-week series where every day at 3pm visitors to the OBT blog can take a break from their daily routine and learn fun little ballet tidbits.
Beginning pointe work is always so exciting for young dancers. For teachers, it is a time of great responsibility.
Unless we own or teach in a school that can audition and take physically perfect bodies for ballet, as teachers we have to work with students of all sizes and shapes.
Some young children find skipping very difficult while others just naturally perform the movement.
Sickling inward is seen often in young children, especially in hops in attitude devant. To correct this, teach students to hop with the leg held straight out in front.
When teaching correct posture (stance), explain that the knees must be over the center of the foot, the hips in line with the knees, and the shoulders in line with the hips. Ask the dancers to walk as fast as possible with the weight over the heels, then with the weight forward.
Learning attitude en l’air is best done facing the barre. Have students stand slightly away from the barre, holding it with two hands. Have them raise the leg, derrière, and bend the knee slightly without altering the height of the knee. (A low position should suffice at the beginning.) As the height of the leg increases, the weight of the body moves forward. The shoulders and hips remain square to the barre.
It is important for young children to practice the head movement, and to spot, before starting to learn pirouettes. Here is a useful way to achieve this:
To get the correct placement of the fingers, place a pencil under the dancer’s first (pointer) and ring fingers so that it passes over the middle finger. Make holding the pencil without dropping it a game.