Magazine article Dance Spirit

(NOT SO) Lame Ducks

Magazine article Dance Spirit

(NOT SO) Lame Ducks

Article excerpt

"Lame duch," It sounds like nothing else in the classical ballet vocabulary, right? Also known as step-up turns or step-over turns-or, more technically, as piqués en dehors-these tricky pirouettes show up all over the classical ballet repertoire, perhaps most famously in Odette's Act II variation in Swan Lake. Here's how to keep your lame ducks from looking, well, lame.

CHOOSE YOUR APPROACH

According to Nadia Thompson, co-director and ballet master of Ballet Hagen in Germany, there are two ways into a lame duck: "You can brush through first position and step up to the fourth, or tömbé to å la seconde and replace the standing leg through fifth position," she says. Your teacher might prefer one method over the other. But if you're having trouble staying centered during lame ducks, the version that brushes through first may help you find your balance, since it allows you to push from your back foot and get the toe to passé more quickly. Just be careful not to mix the two approaches together. "Sometimes people go through second and then rond de jambe the leg around, and that looks sloppy," Thompson says.

TAKE A GOOD PREPARATION

Like every successful pirouette, a lame duck needs a good preparation. Madalina Stoica, principal dancer at Tulsa Ballet, makes sure to ground her standing heel well with a deep plié. "Sometimes, especially when the music is fast, we want to cheat and cut the full plié," she says, "or even to take the turn from relevé. …

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