Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"expert" village

I apologize in advance for any ranting that occurs in this post due to my feelings about this week's Weblink Wednesday.

A few weeks ago I was hunting on youtube for ballet videos. Occasionally, I can find some good exercises to use in class or a tutorial video that demonstrates a better method for teaching turnout, etc. It was on youtube that I discovered the Perfect Pointe System, which has been very helpful in teaching my first year of beginning pointe technique. I stumbled upon some videos posted by "Expert Village", which claims to be a collection of experts in various fields that post tutorial videos so that the un-expert among us can learn from their vast stores of knowledge. I had a hard time deciding which video to link to because they are all just so dreadful. I decided to go with this one, which is teaching how to do a "passe" or "retire" position. This is a very important position in ballet, used in turns, jumps, extensions, etc. For those of you who can't tell... THEY ARE TEACHING IT WRONG!

(Not to mention that they both look dumpy, unprofessional and sloppy. If you are teaching technique, you need to be willing to let us see your body. As I tell my students, lose the t-shirt when you're a ballerina! Let alone trying to teach a position of the legs wearing pants that are too long and cover your ankles... oy.)

Now, I am aware that there are many different schools within the ballet art form. But for the most part the technique itself is universal. And for a passe, you wrap the toes of your working foot around the ankle of the supporting leg (a position called "sur le cou de pie", which means "around the neck of your foot") so that your knee is directed back immediately. Pressing the knee and hip back to create an open position, you wrap and slide your foot up to the knee, maintaining connection between the two. You then reverse the process and lower the foot to 5th position, in which you are trying to connect the toes and heels of your opposite feet (I know they are doing it in 3rd position, but that is another thing that is silly... no one really uses 3rd position anymore because it just looks sloppy and teaches bad form when transitioning to 5th position). You are also never never supposed to lift your hip as your leg rises (which she does) or release the knee of the supporting leg coming down (which she does). Another "expert" video that might be just as bad is the "glissade" video, which gets linked to at the end of this one.

A few people commenting on the videos were defending the two women saying that we should not critique them for dancing, which is something people do for fun and to express themselves from the heart. True enough. If this was a piece of choreography or a recreational video, I would not have said a word about it. But these are people claiming to be experts demonstrating specific technique for other people to mimic and learn. Ballet is, of course, a form of artistic expression but it is also a discipline. Not only does doing it incorrectly look bad, it can also lead to injuries down the road. Not to mention, what is the point (no pun intended) of learning something wrong?

ARRRRRGH and ROAR and all that.

OK, I'm done now.

1 comment:

Whirl said...

I like the comment you left on Youtube. You should make some of your own videos!