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The Well Trained Dancer: Rond de Jambe


Welcome! Today we are talking about rond de jambe, specifically rond de jambe à terre.

Rond de jambe means: "circle of the leg on the ground". (Rond de jambe can also be done en l'air, but we are not addressing that yet.)

3 POINTS OF ROND DE JAMBE:

1.) Rond de jambe can be performed en dehors and en dedans. En dehors takes the leg from the front to the back, and en dedans takes the leg from the back to the front.

2.) You want to think about where you have a tendu to the front, to the side, and to the back, and rond de jambe is connecting the dots. The leg has to pass consistently through the same places it did for tendu. The same goes for en dedans moving from the back, to the side, to the front.


3.) Closing to first has to maintain turnout. From the back, heel leads to close, and from the front, the toes lead into close.


3 COMMON CORRECTIONS:

1.) Maintain the disengagement of the leg from the hip, working rotation. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint formed between the hip bone and the femur. We want the femur to move independently within the hip bone, without taking the hip bone with the femur. Sometimes this is referred to as "hula hoop hips" because it looks like the hips are moving as they would if we were doing a hula hoop!


2.) The hip of the supporting side needs to stay very turned out and lifted. Allowing the supporting side to relax, either because we simply forget or because we feel like we can gain more rotation of the working leg, is incorrect. Turnout and rotation should always come from both hips!

3.) Be aware not to let the foot turn in as it passes through first. Maintain rotation throughout the entire exercise!


Please keep in mind these are the very basics for rond de jambe, and by no means a comprehensive guide to everything going on in this step. I hope these will be helpful for those of you beginning or returning to ballet, as well as a good reminder for more advanced dancers!

Check out the video version below for further help!

- Abby


Miami City Ballet Trip!


Last weekend I took a quick trip to the Miami area to see Miami City Ballet! My friend, Kristin, went with me and we soaked up ~72 hours of sunshine and palm trees. It was glorious!

We took a really early flight Saturday morning so we could spend the majority of our day in Miami before going up to West Palm Beach where the ballet performance was on Sunday. We grabbed lunch at a sushi place and then headed straight for the beach. It had been years since I'd been to a warm beach and I felt so nostalgic for my childhood summers with my grandparents in Florida!


Later on we headed in to Miami Beach to check out the sites and the architecture. We saw the Miami City Ballet building (sooo cool) and, unexpectedly, one the Seven Magic Mountains sculptures in a park across the street! After dinner we had some time to kill before our tour at the Museum of Ice Cream so we wandered into the Faena hotel. My gosh was this place cool! There was a neat gold dinosaur bone installation by the outdoor bar, and a nice view of the sunset we had to capture!


I've been seeing photos from the Museum of Ice Cream in my Instagram feed for awhile, so when the Miami location said it would be extending its stay, we jumped at the chance to see what this is all about! It's definitely not a museum, but just a fun place to take cute photos. If you can embrace it for what it is, it's a fun time!




We're not much for the club scene these days, so we headed up to West Palm Beach after the museum to get some rest at our adorable Airbnb! Sunday morning we enjoyed breakfast at a Swedish coffee house and quickly realized the vibe in West Palm was more our style compared to Miami lol. The coffee house was in a residential area a block away from the beach and we saw so many doggies being walked! We could have spent all morning greeting dogs and sipping on coffee :)

We decided we should see more of Palm Beach before the ballet, so we headed over to the Worth Ave shopping district and pretty much had it to ourselves since the shops weren't open yet. This was the most charming shopping area and I would for sure come back here to do a photo shoot or, you know, just pop into Jimmy Choo... :)




Now, THE BALLET! We saw Program Three which started with Balanchine's Theme & Variations, followed by a new Brian Brooks contemporary piece called One Line Drawn, and finishing with Robbins' The Concert! Basically this entire trip was planned around seeing The Concert because it has been one of my favorite ballets to watch clips of online! I had really been wanting to see it in its entirety, and a bonus if done so at a Balanchine company, so when I saw MCB was doing it, plans were made!

I had never seen Theme & Variations, but knowing it's a Balanchine ballet I knew I'd like it. And omg, did I like it. Pull up the Tchaikovsky music right now (fourth movement of Suite No. 3) and you can probably imagine all the crazy fast footwork as the music builds at the end!

The new contemporary piece was really cool - the lighting made me instantly wish I was photographing it, and the concept was really neat. The men and women were in the same costumes and the gender roles were mixed. At one point a women behind us whispered to her husband that she finally realized there were two men dancing together and not a man and a women. Pretty cool!

So, during The Concert, I got really emotional! I kept thinking about how much my mom would enjoy seeing this ballet (it's about a piano concert and my mom's a pianist) and I think I was also just overwhelmed with the talent on stage and that I had made this trip happen that was just a faint idea around Christmas. Being on my period probably helped my highly emotional state haha, but nonetheless, I found myself tearing up from happiness. And laughter - this ballet is a humorous one! I want to get some ballet ladies together and learn The Mistake Waltz portion with the six female dancers!


After the ballet we were hit hard with the tired stick. The 5am flight the previous day and then losing an hour traveling east had caught up with us! We stopped at Subculture Coffee nearby to give us the caffeine boost we needed for the drive back down to Miami Beach. We drove along the coast, gawking at the incredibly beautiful homes, and then stopped in Ft. Lauderdale for dinner with a relative of Kristin's. I had a delicious margartia and mahi tacos!

We had booked another Airbnb in Miami that night, but long story short, we didn't feel safe staying there once we got there so we booked a hotel stay last minute. Shout out to the Hilton Miami Beach for being awesome and nice. We also learned that Airbnbs are illegal on Miami Beach??! So take note of that and book a hotel stay if you're going there!

The next morning we got up early to meet a corps dancer with Miami City Ballet for a photo shoot! I had done a call out on my Instagram and it worked out to meet with Alaina Andersen! My gosh was she beautiful! I love doing shoots when I travel because it's fun to meet new dancers and come up with ideas in new locations! I had never been to Miami, much less this location, or met this dancer and we shot some of my favorite stuff to date!

After the shoot Kristin and I grabbed brunch at Morgan's in Wynwood and then had 20 mintues to run around Wynwood Walls before I needed to take Kristin to the airport!





I had a couple hours to kill before my evening flight so I headed to the beach, called my mom, and walked along the water as we talked for an hour! :) My mom is actually living in Florida right now, but too far away to make it down to see me for a day. But, I will be back in Florida in a couple weeks to visit her, my step-dad, and my grandparents! My husband and my sister are also coming so I am really looking forward to the family time. It has been too long!


I hope you guys have enjoyed this lengthy travel blog post! I was going to vlog this trip, but just didn't have the energy for it once we got there and I didn't want to put pressure on myself to create if it wasn't coming naturally to me. Hence the huge collection of photos :)

Let me know if you'd like to hear more about "ballet tourism" -- traveling for ballet. It's a topic I'd love to write more about!

Jana

Meet Up In Miami!


Hello friends! Jana here. In a few weeks I am flying to Miami to see Miami City Ballet's Program Three performance! I am really excited for a short getaway for ballet, palm trees, and sunshine!!


I picked this performance because I have been wanting to see The Concert for so long! When I saw it was paired with a classic Balanchine piece, I knew I had to make this happen! :) Our friend, Kristin, jumped on board with me so we're making a mini vacation out of it!

I wanted to extend the invitation to our community of adult ballet friends in the area that might want to come to the ballet and meet up after! Here are the details:

Program Three, Miami City Ballet
Sunday March 4th, 2018 @ 1pm 
Kravis Center - West Palm Beach

If anyone is interested, send me an email to ballerinasbynight@gmail.com and we can coordinate details for a post-ballet get together!

I hope everyone is doing well! Below is a little vlog from Monday where I talk about our Miami trip at the end!

Jana


First Pliés of 2018


Hi everyone! Jana here. It has been a slow process getting back to the studio in 2018! I only took two classes in the entire month of December while still taking it easy because of my metatarsal injury. I think because I know if I push too hard after a nice break for my feet then I'll just end up back where I started. I would rather ease into it instead of continuing to be totally on a break. Usually this would kill me to know I can't go 110% in class, but maybe it's new 2018 wisdom that has me accepting the scenario instead of focusing on what I can't do!

But because I hadn't exercised much at all in the past month my leg muscles were just disintegrating and I felt so grosssss. Kristin came over on Monday and we did barre with Abby on my iPad. I love the Basic Ballet Barre video for easing back into things. The super slow pliés give you time to think about placement, muscle usage, and just melting into it all.

A nice surprise was that my left hamstring that has been super tight eased up just slightly so I tried to give that some extra attention. I was hoping my metatarsal pain would be almost gone, but it's still there a bit. I think I will look into seeing a podiatrist to make sure this isn't something permanent...I don't know what I would do if that is the case....start seeing a therapist immediately!

Abby wrote a really wonderful post about her goals for 2018 that you can read here. I'm not setting any technique or fitness goals given the uncertain state of my injury, so instead I'm making it a goal to mentally accept what my body is unable to do - meaning if I'm hurting in class, either stop of modify. I hate doing that. And I hate not finishing class. I love pushing my limits in class, but I love being able to dance some more than not at all. So I'm going for the marathon, not the race. I want to still be taking class when I'm 70, and while there are things I still want to accomplish with my dancing while my body is realistically able to, I don't want to put myself in a constant state of pain and not be able to continue.

Here's to health and happiness in our dancing!

Jana

2018 Goals

Hi everyone! Abby here.

As we sit here, perched on the last edge of 2017 and about to blast into 2018, I wanted to share my goals for the new year. Sometimes I'm not about setting goals, because I don't like the feeling of pass/fail that accompanies that. Progress is progress, whether you reach a specific goal or not. However, this has been a year of giving myself a stern talking to, so I'm being a bit harder on myself.

I've shared with you several times about losing my Mom, my fellow dancer and friend, this year. This is really what whipped my butt into shape about my dancing. Mom went back to dancing in her very late 30's, after being off for almost 20 years, and danced through her 40's. At some point, I'm going to have to find the clip where she does hops en pointe for something like 16 counts - absolutely incredible. I honestly didn't realize just what a jewel she was until much later in life. I realized how wrong I was to hold myself back from going back into dancing, having made myself believe I was past it and needed to be nothing but a teacher.

My heart was broken early in the year when I demonstrated a jump in class, and quite the sad attempt it was, only to have one of my students say, "Miss Abby, I didn't know you could jump!" My students had no idea what kind of dancer I used to be, no fault of theirs. When I was 17, I competed in the one and only pageant I have ever been in, America's Junior Miss (now called Distinguished Young Women). During the section where I had to give a short speech, mine was about a quote my teacher said a lot, "'I can't' lives on 'I won't' street." Meaning, saying the words "I can't" begins with the mindset of "I won't". It wasn't that I couldn't, it's just that I was unwilling...afraid to fail. Dancing as a young person, you don't know how far you will go, but you don't set limits. You just plan on going as far as you are able. So, that's what I intend to do this year - take it as far as I can.

Here's my list, but no worries about "pass/fail". Whatever happens, happens. I will make progress regardless, but I'll also be elated if I end up being able to accomplish any of this!

1.) When I was dancing professionally, I was able to do 5-6 pirouettes en pointe. I had a consistent 4 on both sides. I want to try to get my turns en pointe back to this level.

2.) I want to get my split in my leaps back to a nice 180 degrees with two straight legs. Right now my back knee has a tendency to bend slightly, and my jump is not as powerful as I want it to be. I also want to soften the port de bras.

3.) 32 fouettes en pointe. I was able to do this two years ago, right before I stopped dancing, but it was so painful due to my hip, I would suffer for days after. Now that my hip is greatly improved, I'm hoping I can regain this skill.

4.) Overall improvement in port de bras. Although I love being a strong dancer, I always battled my arms. So, this year I really want to work on extending and softening through my arms on everything I do.

5.) Overall improvement in pointe work. I've been working to find shoes that work for me, and now have 3 types I am relatively happy with. So, I want to really work my pointe work and get this aspect of my dancing strong again.

6.) To dance the entire Sugar Plum pas, including solo and coda. To work up Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty. I did this variation when I was 15 and it was an epic fail. I had regressed from the year before, partially as a result of trying to turn out and rotate beyond what I could from the hip, so I built up my glutes and was no longer aligned correctly. However, not knowing that at the time, I was just frustrated knowing that I was regressing but not knowing what to do to fix it. Doing this variation again will be some redemption, although I'm doing different choreography. To work up another variation I did as a teen - the jumping variation from Paquita. It was never a complete failure, but never a compete triumph either. More redemption needed on it.

These are lofty goals, but again, I will go as far as I can. My goals for the channel are this:

1.) To finish "The Well-Trained Dancer" series. I want to create a series that will take a new or returning dancer all the way through a basic class, with a basic set of steps. A kind of visual dictionary, but beyond that, so that they could also gain a somewhat deeper understanding of the steps.

2.) To bring more dance content to the channel overall. I want to bring a lot more tips and explanations of steps back into the rotation.

3.) To keep listening to YOU, and bring you want you want and need! So, please tell us!


Merry Christmas from Abby & Jana!



Merry Christmas, everyone! It has been one busy month for us here at BBN! We made it through another Vlogmas series, this time with 12 videos!! Cannot believe we pulled that off amid our busy adult ballet lives! If you're not caught up or haven't seen what we've been up to since December 1, here is the Vlogmas 2017 playlist!



Christmas this year will be tough for both of us - Abby lost her mother this year and I lost my mother-in-law. I'm sure some of you are dealing with loss this holiday too and our hearts go out to you <3.

We'll be taking a break from videos through the New Year, but our goal for 2018 is to get back to more dance-centered videos like tips, tutorials, and classes. We look forward to doing that! 

We hope you all are doing well and get to spend Christmas or whatever you celebrate with people you love!

Ballet Book Guide


Abby shares this brilliant guide to some of her favorite educational and fun ballet books! There's something in here for everyone, so here's a breakdown of her thoughts she shares in this video!

by Eliza Gaynor Minden

This book is like a crash course for ballet! Good for the adult ballet beginner, it's a great reference with visuals. It goes over the elements of barre and center work and as well as basic terminology, dealing with dance injuries, and the history of ballet.


by Agrippina Vaganova

Not the easiest reading, but very good information about the Vaganova technique.


by Vera S. Kostrovitskaya

This book is essentially the entire syllabus for Vaganova training. It's a very good resource for teaching Vaganova or gaining a better understand of the Vaganova background.


by Rory Foster

A book intended for pedagogy training at the collegiate level, this includes information about class structures, musicality, and other elements related to teaching. This is a good read for adult dancers, even if you aren't interested in teaching, because as adults we can take in more information cognitively, and understanding the "whys" behind teaching can help us during class.


by Gretchen Ward Warren

Your basic visual ballet dictionary with just about every ballet step you could imagine! Great reference with beautiful pictures.


by Gayle Kassing and Danielle M. Jay

This book may be good for the adult dancer who has been dancing awhile and wants to understand further the elements of class and technique. There is information on planning classes, which can be beneficial if you want to give yourself class. 


by Jordan Matter

A fun coffee table book full of photos of dancers doing pedestrian things or in pedestrian situations. This makes a great gift!


by Jacqui Greene Haas

If you're interested in what muscles you're working when doing certain movements or want to know how to cross train better for dancing, this book is a great guide with great illustrations and explanations!


by ABT Medical Advisory Board

This is the ABT guide you can purchase without taking the National Teaching Certification Curriculum courses. It goes over anatomy, kinesiology, dance related injuries, turnout, pointe work, development in health, etc. This is a very good book if you are a teacher or a parent of a dancer.


by Cyril W. Beaumont and Stanislas Idzikowski

This book covers the theory and technique of Ceccehetti by taking you through all the different elements of ballet class.

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We hope there's something on this list that suits you (or might make a good gift for a dancer!). Let us know in the comments what your favorite ballet books are!