Two Keys to Élévation

 

I love jumping and taking men’s class to practice my élévation. But after suffering from tibial stress fractures last year, I was put in the dreaded boot (one for each leg) for at least eight weeks. Every physical therapist I saw mentioned how the bowing of my shins caused by repeatedly jumping and landing incorrectly is what made my injury so severe. I had to face facts and sit out. I would watch class and rehearsal with envy of every sauté. I would dream about doing endless grande jetés. However, sitting on the floor during a particular class gave me a whole new perspective on jumping in ballet—and I now have two new strategies to give me greater height. 

 

My first revelation came by observing my fellow dancers feet. "Put your heels down!" is one of the most common corrections heard in many studios. But, getting your heels down is only part of the foot articulation that needs to happen for great élévation and fast petit allégro. It all comes down to the basics: Point your toes. I saw first-hand how the dancers who pointed their feet—ankles and toes—were much more agile, allowing for clean and precise petit allégro work.

 

The second revelation came with the witnessing of how grand battements really are what produces élévation. So that is why my teachers have been emphasizing fast up and slow down! One particular peer of mine has a superior jump. Why? Her initial grand battement, plus the power she uses when pushing off the ground, gives her height. Her ability to sustain the jump comes from the strength of her grand battement. She has the control to stop her leg and the strength to hold it, so that her body can catch up while she floats in the air. The purpose of a grand battement is so much more than trying to kick higher than the girl next to you. 

 

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks