what epaulement, low legs and placement can bring to the moving body
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
One thing is to create with organic movement. Another thing is to create with academic Ballet vocabulary. But what academy are we talking about? if Ballet over the years has been also evolving and has become a mix of different nationalities? Vaganova was influenced by Cecchetti's work, the french took ballet from the italian courts. Is it even worth to privatize ballet under a nationality? In a lot of ways it is pretty easy to see the differences between russian ballet or french ballet. And I find that also interesting to witness. Aesthetics are going so far that it is breaking the human body. High legs are impressive, but there are also some other things that we forget to consider when appreciating ballet. Now let me get to the point. I got a small injury on my knee because I have been over working, it takes just a bad, small, misplaced movement to get a small injury that will put you in bed for a week. But it is what it is, luckily it is nothing serious and yes, I have to take care of my body. I want to share what my Cecchetti experience is doing to my choreographic vocabulary. And more thoughts on the creative process, while my knee gets de rest it deserves. First and foremost, all the Cecchetti excercises are done with legs not higher than 90 degrees. Imagine yourself doing a developpe à la seconde at 90° and then promenade en dehors. Turnout must be rock solid in order to achieve it, and most certainly nobody does it onstage on pointe nowadays, except for the companies that produce Ratmansky ballets, in which he also recovers this lost old ballet vocabulary. Of course he does it better than me because he is Elite and can go straight to the real choreographic ressources in order to study and be historically accurate. But this does not mean that this information should stay in the Elite department right? information is there were there is a passioned ballet master who dedicated her/his/their life to the study of their passion. It is just a matter of finding them. And like I said before, I do not intend to be historically accurate. I want to get tools to create better. To have more vocabulary to compose things and say what I want to say. This probaby means mixing other kind of dances into mine, like folk, or even contemporary.
So, back to my point of lower legs.
Some Cecchetti Adagios are so difficult, I spend 30 minutes on studying them so I can get them to look decent enough. They take a lot of strength, and a lot of placement. No flexibility is gonna help you do those epaulements or developpés à 90°. I have been trying to do some pirouettes sur le coup de pied, Ratmansky style, or better said, old Cecchetti style. And in fact I turn faster and better sur le coup de pied, because I can place better myself. Low legs make us work more in our turnout, therefore our dinamics change, we can dance faster and we put less weight on our legs. This definitely brings the necessity, to me, to work on this everyday in the class. Vaganova classes give me this, but also some Vaganova mixed with Cecchetti help a lot. I have a dear ballet master here in Berlin who happens to have this Cecchetti mixed Vaganova language, he is an amazing person and teacher. Some of his excercises are very old style and remind me to what I am studying. And if we take a look at famous british choreographers like F. Ashton, they also had this vocabulary. And somehow it got lost because of the gimnastics trend that actually come from modernity and very bad simplified Balanchine style. We have to remember that Cechhetti opened a school in London, so it makes sense that the british choreographers had a lot of his influence.
Lower legs make you work different, you develop a different awareness, speed and musicality while taking more risks in the upper body.
Now, I am saying that lower legs can give diversity to the movement. And not only legs, but also arms. And diversity of arm positions work too. Some Cecchetti arms, seem to be so old, but it's so charming to do them, it almost feels like you are saying something that you did not say in a while. Expressing new things. And that is a feeling that I am finding quite often when I study the Cecchetti excercises. Although, I have to admit, that the urge of going with more organic movements also comes into the creative process, and to try to combine both is something that finds contradictions. But surrending to my primitive instincts of wanting to move more "organically" ends up with this result: doing the same steps all over again, and actually being less creative. I have to find a way to make this organic impulse translate into readable (and pointe shoe danceable) dance moves. I am still a little bit too theoretic in here, I know. But the combinations of Cecchetti's Method were coming from a mind that had different perspective on what technical difficulties was. And some of the epaulements from the Cecchetti method are inspired in very organic movements, with some physics added to it, they seem improvised dancing. So I am slowly getting into the mixing of the organic and mathematic. There are no spirals And take a look at this combination. This one was particularly fun to discover. For sure a combination I would have never thought to put together without research.
Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverbands Tanz Deutschlands.