Thursday, April 7, 2011

fix you

"Fix You" by Coldplay LOVE!!

Today's post is about ballet pedagogy Vaganova-style.
This semester I have pedagogy weekly with my favorite teacher who received a teaching degree at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg.  Anyways the class is an hour and a half in a cold murky old library in the dance building.  It's unfortunate that we can't have this class more than once a week because it is very worthwhile and vital, or at least in my opinion anyway.  She dictates her exact notes that she translated from her pedagogy class in Russia.  It's incredibly difficult and frustrating, but I can't think of any other place (other than Vaganova Academy I suppose) where they teach you the exact curriculum.  It's amazing.  The notes are extremely tedious (I don't know how the foreign students keep up) and long and exhausting.   We've only had class like five times, and already my notebook is getting stuffed.  We've shuffled around alot, but basically we've learned various parts of Levels 1-2 in the Vaganova School.

The scariest part is when my teacher randomly calls up one of us to "teach" how to do a movement.  Today I was asked to teach small pose Croise battement tendu devant and second arabesque (mind you we're not even allowed to have our toes leave the ground.  We've literally started from the beginning and only just learned how to teach battement tendu jete today).  Anyways back to my story, here is an example of what I said and is expected of us in our final exam:

"Poses of the Dance; Croise front battement tendu":
The first form of croise front is with music 4 measures 4/4.  You begin in fifth position croise (facing point #8), with arms in preparatory position.  Pianist, please have a two count introduction.  Counting 'and a one, and a two' the arms alonge on the 'and' after count one.  Then arms come up to first position from counts one to two, and the head inclines towards the left shoulder with eyes looking into the palms of your hands.  On count three, you open arms to Big Pose and the leg does a battement tendu devant.  Hold count four.  Hold another measure 1, 2, 3, 4.  Then the arms alonge to a la seconde position through counts one and two.  The arms close to preparatory and the leg closes to fifth on the count of three.  Hold count four.  Hold another measure 1, 2, 3, 4.  Repeat.  The same rules apply for battement tendu.  Other forms include 4 measures 4/4 with pauses, and 4 measures 2/4 with everything combined.  First the arms are taught in Big Pose (supporting arm in third and other arm in seconde position) and then Small Pose is taught when students are more experienced and capable (supporting arm in first and other arm in seconde position).

Wow congrats to anyone that actually read that.  Yes, that is pedagogy class.  And I'm sure I probably said something wrong.  I could also go over second arabesque (since I also had to demonstrate), but I'll save you the pain (or my typing fingers at least).

Despite all my pessimism, I highly recommend taking a Vaganova Pedagogy class (tell me where to find one!).  Unfortunately I only have about four more classes.  I would love to go to Russia and learn, but I know I'm not dedicated enough like my teacher to learn Russian and translate for three years.  It's crazy, I don't know how she did it, but I admire her so much.

guess who? under Vaganova's famous portrait is young Diana Vishneva
beautiful, and you can see the watering-can stains on the beautiful wooden floor.

this looks like Paquita.  Oh and this is the Academy's most famous studio =]

My guidebook.  It is necessary for every Russian-trained student.  Found it on Amazon for a penny =]