Try this exercise to improve your spotting for pirouettes in ballet taught by The Ballet Spot's founder and owner Eliza. Remember to practice on both sides! Spotting is tricky, so be patient and practice often.
Pirouettes are endlessly challenging, but one easy way to improve is to practice your spot! There are lots of elements that go into a proper ballet turn - proper preparation, strong position during the turn, controlled turnout, square hips, strong standing leg....... - but without a strong spot, none of it matters!
Spend some time refining your spot without worrying about the position - try slow, then get faster, try a single, try a double, and even a triple! Be patient with yourself and get used to the feeling of turning once or multiple times in a row.
Spotting prevents dizziness and is important for pirouette rhythm. When trying multiple turns keep the spotting rhythm completely even - the tendency is to slow down after the first spot, but you need a fast second (or third) spot to keep your momentum.
Once your spot feels stronger, try adding in a passé position.
Remember to practice both sides!
Join Eliza for Cardio Ballet Mondays and Fridays at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT on Zoom! If you're in LA, you can dance with Eliza on the Beach in Santa Monica on Fridays at 7:30am!
Join Eliza for Total Body Barre on Tuesdays at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT, Thursdays at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT, and Saturdays at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT on Zoom!
The most fun way to get your cardio in - DANCING! Follow along in the short video below with pro dancer and Total Body Barre instructor Colby, as she teaches you a few simple and effective moves to get challenge your heart. Then turn on some music and start grooving!
Join Colby for Total Body Barre Express (45min) Fridays at Noon ET / 9:00am PT on Zoom.
Written by Robyn Jutsum
Happy May! This month, The Ballet Spot is headed to the Wild Wild West with our new theme, Rodeo, choreographed by Agnes De Mille! This cowboy ballet premiered in 1942 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and music by Aaron Copland.
To give you an introduction to Agnes De Mille, the mastermind behind this cowgirl ballet, watch her describe the choreography in this video commissioned by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.
Set at a ranch (ballet’s subtitled “The Courting at Burnt Ranch”), De Mille’s ballet portrays a Southwestern love story centered around the protagonist, the Cowgirl (originally played by De Mille herself) and her love for the Head Wrangler. Over the course of the ballet, the Cowgirl attempts to make him notice her and tries to keep up with the other cowboys. However, in the end, she finds true love with another gentleman, the Lead Roper, so the Head Wrangler remains with his love, the Rancher’s Daughter, and all is well at Burnt Ranch! The Kennedy Center has an excellent feature on Agnes De Mille and her work, including Rodeo, and they share a full synopsis which I encourage everyone to read.
ABT 1973 Scene 1 featuring Christine Sarry as the Cowgirl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9uzwiKNhCk&t=302s
The ballet is divided into 5 sections:
“Ranch House Party,”
“Saturday Night Waltz,”
And “Hoe Down”
Colorado Ballet in Rodeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqbxVjF1jwM
The set, costumes, and lighting help create the Old Western vibe of the ballet. Designed by Oliver Smith, it’s important to pay attention to how both the set and lighting define not only the ranch but also the time of day throughout the 5 sections. The costumes are, predictably, indicative of the Wild West, with cowboy attire for the men and traditional Western dresses for the women. The exception to this is the Cowgirl, who is also dressed in cowboy attire as she tries to fit in with the men. In the second half of the ballet, she dons a red dress and has an “ugly duck moment,” suddenly becoming noticeable and desirable, even to the Head Wrangler (and the Lead Roper, her true love), which is in deep contrast to her character during the earlier sections of the ballet.
Although considered a ballet, you will find Rodeo has several types of dance in it. De Mille felt that Russian ballet technique and aesthetic was outdated, restricting, and limiting choreographically and unimaginative in emotional expression on stage. The Kennedy Center explains that the ballet is relevant today because of its ability to convey human emotion, “And even though Rodeo was choreographed some 70 years ago, we still enjoy it today because it portrays universal human emotions: the desire to find love and the hurt of rejection.” Gestures and affectations are incorporated to reflect the motion of roping, horseback riding, the gait of the cowboy, etc. You will find tap, square dance, various social dances, and elements of ballet and Modern Dance throughout the story. As a result, Rodeo is considered one of, if not the first, truly American ballets. It has been the source of inspiration for many alternate interpretations of Copland’s score, most notably Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes (Premiered 2015 with the New York City Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater). Watch this feature with Daniel Ulbricht (who will be part of our Stars of Ballet Series in July!!) discussing Peck’s ballet
Sign up for Rodeo-themed Cardio Ballet here. And participate in our monthly virtual performance! Learn more about your “performance” opportunity and how to be a part of it here.
Want to learn more about Rodeo and Agnes De Mille, and watch excerpts from the ballet? Join us for our virtual happy hour and viewing party, Sips and Clips, on Sunday, May 15th at 6 pm ET / 3 pm PT! Sign up for free here.
Watch the quick video below for some simple and effective ways to stretch and strengthen your upper back taught by pro dancer, and Ballet Spot instructor and Marketing Manager Robyn! These exercises will help improve posture as well as port de bras for ballet class.
Join Robyn for Total Body Barre on Mondays at 5:30pm ET / 2:30pm PT and Sundays at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT, as well as Cardio Ballet on Thursdays at 8:00am ET / 5:00am PT (for all you earl birds).
This week's move is a series of active stretches to lengthen the front and back of your thighs! This series is taught by Daniel, a professional dancer, certified trainer, and former American Ballet Theatre Corps de Ballet member. Active stretching is a fabulous way to keep your muscles long and strong for dancing!
Join Daniel for Active Dynamic Stretch on Saturdays at 10:00am ET / 7:00am PT on Zoom!
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