Bag of Steps: Eight Positions in Action

Continuing from the previous edition of Bag of Steps, where we looked at the eight positions of the body from which all the various steps are executed, we are now going to see how these eight positions are integrated with the dance:

All dance steps stem naturally from the alignment and position of the body, so it is not that the dancer will stop in effacé devant, for some seconds, as they might do in class and then proceed with a particular step. That would turn a solo/variation into an assortment of poses or, to borrow from Clement Crisp’s description of a very slow paced adagio, a “game of statues.” But even with the dancer’s body in constant flow during a variation, one can still try and identify the key positions adopted. This is actually a fun exercise (at least for us!), as we demonstrate below.

We have taken two video fragments, both featuring Royal Ballet dancers: one from the Lilac Fairy variation (The Sleeping Beauty, Prologue) as danced by the joyous Marianela Nuñez, and another from Giselle (Act II), danced by the ethereal Alina Cojocaru †. We have pasted them together and tagged the positions in parts where we think they can be clearly spotted, so lookout for six of those eight positions previously described.

Note that while the diagrams in our post had dancers executing the positions from the leg tendu a terre (“stretched” on the ground), Marianela and Alina are getting into their positions with the leg en l’air (lifted working leg).

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† Copyright from the videos belongs to their respective owners.

Her favourite ballets feel like good books – one can see them 1,000 times and they always feel fresh. Linda loves Giselle, all full-length MacMillan plus Song of the Earth, Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering, Balanchine’s Serenade and Agon, Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet and Symphonic Variations.

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