The Soviets win at ballet…cartoons

16 Jul

So I needed to fix my KHM’s.  They’re still the best shoes I’ve found, but when I originally tied the elastics and cut them off as I normally do, I didn’t realize until after a few classes that I tied them too tight and it made the shoes dig into my Achilles tendons.  Determined to rectify the situation, I bought some elastic cord to replace them, cutting out the old ones.  It should have been a simple surgical procedure to thread them through, however the elastic was too thick for the needle I had, and despite the fact that I figured that might happen and preemptively bought some larger needles just in case, the larger needles ended up being too big.  Not to mention the fact I’m trying to do this before class yesterday morning, and forgot to bring scissors with me so I had to buy a pair of mini-scissors too.  Of course I ran out of time and went with my leather shoes anyway (the ones as you may recall, I bled all over, again trying to fix them before class) and so the repairing of the shoes would have to wait until I got home.  When I did get home, I somehow forgot that I was still without a usable needle, and resorted to taping the elastic cord to a smaller needle and threading my makeshift needle contraption through the shoe.  Finally, a method for success!  So now you know how to fix your shoes in case your elastic cords snap or you do something stupid like me.

Oh, and I need to stop trying to fix or sew my shoes right before class!!! *facepalm*

In other news, Karen’s class is going great.  She’s helping me fix my port de bras, because I have a bad habit of breaking the line at my elbows and wrists, and not moving from underneath my arms.  It’s a matter of really connecting through the back and keeping an open chest I think…which may or may not be the case but when it comes to correcting yourself in ballet, if it’s working and the teacher tells you it’s looking better, keep it up.  This is good for me, because I have gangly limbs (small torso…think spidery) and if they’re not placed well it’s really noticeable.  Besides, my legs are all kinds of messed up, so SOMETHING has to look good and it may as well be me arms.  We’ve also been working a little on Italian fouettes, which I think is one of the most difficult, beastliest moves to do well.  Trying to find good placement while getting a good brush of the foot through the plié and into the fouette is a recipe for disaster because there are about a million things that can go wrong.  But it’s a true test that separates the whites and the yolks, folks.  In other words, it’s messy and it’s hard.

I also have a Karen quote for you too…in center people were kind of herding together and she told us to spread out because she was “noticing some intimacy here…and not the good kind.”

Anyway, I mentioned in my last entry “trippy Russian cartoons,” and I tried to find an example of what I was talking about on youtube, but failed.  But I did come across an interesting little cartoon from way back, when Russia was the Soviet Union.  A little Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale known as “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” which if you will recall features a ballerina as the one legged soldier’s love interest.  Curiously enough, I remembered that Disney did a version as well for Fantasia 2000 and what do we have here?  Why an opportunity to compare classical Russian technique with contemporary American style!

Predictably, the Russians win this round, for a number of reasons.  Although both versions take some various “artistic liberties” with the story, the American version is drastically altered for one, ginormously heinous reason.  The completely incorrect ending!  The soldier and ballerina are supposed to perish in the fire, with the soldier melting into the shape of a heart, to show that even through suffering and difficulty love is eternal.  Diverging from the original story, the American version ends with the villain being cast into the flames instead, and the happy couple living on.  The Russians on the other hand, do it in style by having the ballerina do the most dramatic leap of death into the flames (nobody does tragedrama like the Russians, duh!), to be with her melting soldier.  Now the Russians did ignore the fact that the ballerina is supposed to be standing on one leg, which is why the one legged soldier falls in love with her in the first place, but the ending more than makes up for that little logistical snafu.

As for the dancing itself, the Russian ballerina of course takes the prize…she is this lengthy, ethereal thing with flawless technique and plentiful amplitude in her jumps, while the American ballerina has loose foot form at times and a terrible habit of turning in her foot in her arabesque.  Curiously enough, they do both perform a grand fouette into arabesque en pointe, however the Russian ballerina ups the virtuosity by starting from a relevé developpé a la seconde, fouette to arabesque, penchée, dropping the torso forward and lifting back up to arabesque and placing her foot in a lunge, all en pointe, sans partner.  My, my, my, aren’t we ambitious!

But you can judge for yourself, which version you like better…

Americans:

*I do give the Americans props for using Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no.2 in F major though!  And note to self: during sword fight, pique into corner…

Soviets:

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