My granddaughters (omg, I said that!) are taking ballet lessons. Ain’t they sweet? My daughters took ballet too. I started them, but then we moved them to the Omaha Academy of Ballet where they studied with Madames Roche , Zukaitis and Nevin. They had to pass the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exams every year and had to maintain their correct body stances and movements throughout. It is a rigorous exam. I was teaching out of a small studio in a little town over an hour’s drive from the OAB and it was a long day for them and me. I studied ballet for many years, then took summer classes with OAB for adult beginners, and had earned a feeling of balance and center, flow, technique, and some very sore muscles. My students learned what I learned. Both my girls were en pointe when they started and thrived at OAB.
One day, the grand daughters’ dance teacher was trying to teach tendu (which means touch, not melted cheese, that’s fondu) and the students couldn’t get it.
The dancer in the video isn’t doing it correctly, but that’s what a tendu is, just a point with the foot. The problem with the dancer in the video is that she’s not engaging the floor and that is throwing her center off and defeating the purpose of the exercise. This is a most common problem, and it is exaggerated in younger students. They will actually lift the foot off the ground and point and then lift it again to close. So the teacher went to my daughter and asked how we solved the problem. She said, “Well, my mom used to put a piece of paper beneath the moving foot, and they had to scoot the paper across the floor.” What this did was ensure that the foot was fully engaged with the floor, the hips were not lifting or shifting, and the balance and center were maintained. “OHHH!!!!” she said, and tried it and it worked! The nice thing about using the paper idea is that when they get to Grand Battements where they lift the leg to 90 degrees, they are using the back of the leg and the spring in the foot to lift it, not just throwing the leg up at the end of the tendu.
I taught ballet through beginning of 1996, so my daughter remembered this from 20 years ago! The fact that she remembered something I taught and the way I taught it was wonderful, and that another teacher was using the same technique to teach my grand daughters brought tears to my eyes.
Would you believe that this is the 1st time in my long career as a teacher that a student not only remembered what I had taught but USED it? It was a wonderful feeling though! I certainly hope I have influenced a great many of my students over the years, but there really is no way to tell.