Poll Response: Technique Tips

I’d like to direct your attention to the right sidebar of the blog. There, you should see an opportunity to like my Facebook page (hint hint, wink wink), but there is also a small poll. I am always open to feedback, and I started the poll in an attempt to get input for future posts. Recently, I got the request to share technique tips.

Last summer, I went to a five-week summer ballet intensive at Nashville Ballet and had a fabulous experience. During my time there, I took notes on my corrections and reflections after almost every class, something which I am so grateful for now.

The following tips are just a few of the more influential and significant corrections that I received during my time there:

  • One of my favorite teachers told us one day: “Black bear, brown bear, polar bear. All in the same family, right? Just like releve, passe, turn en dehors. Don’t do black bear, brown bear, TURTLE.”
    Basically, remember that many movements build on each other. Don’t let yourself get freaked out by seemingly harder steps and as a result, forget your technique. (A pirouette en dehors is merely a releve passe with a bit more force and a spot. Keep it simple.)
  • Don’t let yourself be too textbook. You can hit a balance, but your face shouldn’t show the thought process of “and now if I move two millimeters to the right…” Your face has to still have some spark, some pizzazz to it. You’re still dancing.
  • One week, we had a guest teacher from Houston Ballet who, to put it as delicately as possible, made us work our bums off. It was a great experience, leading to several pages of notes from every class with her and many important lessons. One notable correction from those valuable days was that every pique should be like a bow and arrow. The tension of pulling the arrow back is the plie beforehand, and then when you pique, the energy should be just as intense as letting the arrow fly straight to the bulls-eye.
  • Every other day or so, I would also have a jazz or contemporary class in my schedule. I learned so much from these classes as well, and the majority of what I took away had to do with performance. For example, our often inspiring jazz teacher told us a story one class that really stuck with me. At an audition for a major ballet company, the day started with the requirement for each person to state his or her name and just walk across the stage to the other side. As dancer after dancer shyly spoke into the microphone and shuffled across the stage, obviously questioning themselves and the situation, the judges weeded out 222 people. They did not even want to see them dance. Lesson learned: you have to convey confidence even if you’re unsure of yourself. 

Hopefully, some of these tips are helpful! Feedback always welcome.

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5 responses to “Poll Response: Technique Tips

  1. Great entry, particularly about not being too textbook. It’s one thing if you are, say, taking a figure skating test where certain moves must be as close to textbook as possible. It’s entirely another if you are performing. Must let it all hang out then!

    Will try to keep your tips in mind as I learn more skills. Especially turns! That was a GREAT way to level the turn playing field!

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