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The Thinking Dancer Topic 3 (Part 2) ~ A 2nd Look at Glissades

All the controversy about glissades! I guess times are changing...some schools want to preserve their classical technique while others scream for us to keep up with the times.

ok..so after i posted the first glissades article, i thought maybe i shd do some research instead of plain talking from experience with my masterclass teachers. and here's wat i've come up with...

Traditionally, glissades are a "transfer of weight" step...which makes sense to ensure it is executed terre a terre. (But now i'm thinking...if walking is a transfer of weight step...why is it not enforced that the first foot doesn't leave the ground? ok...a little off topic here haha!) How much is terre a terre? According to RAD, toes should NOT leave the floor. some other technique books also emphasize that toes should be either in contact with the floor, or allowed to leave the floor by a teeny weeny bit. However, in the very same technique books that emphasize that, they feature photographs of dancers during a glissade...and boy the glissade is WAY OFF the ground. or maybe we have different interpretations of "just off the floor"....maybe if u told those dancers they can do glissades higher off the floor they'd be doing it at grand jete height? it makes me wonder whether using that stiff-necked definition of glissade nowadays is passe.

I guess glissades take on another form when they get inserted into allegro enchainements. don't quote me on this, but I think RAD and other schools did cover this aspect by using another name for the step. They came up with "free glissade" that travels forwards and "glissade pique" that allows the toes to come off the floor. Both are mostly used in allegro contexts, though free glissades can also be used in non-allegro instances. So the fundamental name has been preserved in RAD syllabus while allowing for glissade pique technique in instances where it is needed.

BUT. even as RAD seems to so strictly insist on glissades not leaving the floor, their grade5 videos of glissades show that the feet do leave the floor. ok it only left by about 2cm, but to me the quality of step changes the moment the feet leave the ground. in the grade 6 video of pirouette en dehors, their feets are clearly off the floor. its time to revamp. or at least add the word "pique" behind glissade in their exercises.

a general rule most ballet teachers agree with is that we teach terre a terre glissades to beginners, and as students get more advanced, we ask them to leave the floor slightly. so beginner students only get to do them terre a terre. the advanced dancers get to enjoy both worlds, using terre a terre glissades in adages, and light bouyant glissades in allegros.

** to indemnify myself, this article isn't written to say anything about RAD syllabus. I just happen to be familiar with this particular syllabus at the moment. I've read about Vaganova technique as well and they do teach glissades terre a terre. I'm just not in a position to talk about Vaganova or any other syllabus right now as those are unfamiliar ground (pun not intended) =P

1 comment:

SiHui said...

Hi Joni! :)
It's been a long time since i last joined ur classes in Cairnhill. Enjoyed reading all ur articles. Really make dancers go think of what they're dancing actually. :)
Anyway, will be seeing you soon as fast as i finish my final year exam in mid May hopefully! :P
Enjoy teaching!! :D