Form and/or Function
In Ballet there are standardised narrow, wide, symmetrical and assymmetrical support positions which are practiced in plié. At the RAD grade 2 ballet level the dancers mainly work with a narrow parallel position, 1st (narrow, turned out, symmetrical), 2nd (wide, turned out, symmetrical) and 3rd (narrow/crossed, turned out, asymmetrical). All these positions have a different form and function that can be analysed, discussed, explored and applied to different settings.
Notes on our approach
In this group all the dancers had the option of standing. The principles of identifying and discussing the base for support can and needs to be considered for other students as well. We can think of the pelvis as a support base, when sitting on the floor or in a wheelchair, or using your arms as support, again when sitting in a wheelchair or using crutches, walker etc. More variations can be seen in the barre: support positions (professional).
The set plié exercise for RAD Grade 2 ballet is performed in 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions. As we were working with dancers either new to ballet, or at least new to the grade 2 syllabus, we focused on practicing the exercise in individually set narrow and wide positions.
As teachers we want to make sure we develop anatomical considerations that go beyond the standardised versions. We, for instance, want to make sure we understand each dancer’s placement of their weight, either over the feet or other support structures (e.g. arms on crutches or wheelchair). We initially explored narrow and wide in centre: narrow and wide and rotation/turn out in centre: rotation with the dancers.
We also discussed with the students and their parents, what mobility device and footwear works best for them, to provide movement range, support and protection.
The images show the positions for each dancer; their placement, use of parallel, turn out and distance between the feet / support.
In this group all the dancers had the option of standing. The principles of identifying and discussing the base for support can and needs to be considered for other students as well.
We can think of the pelvis as a support base: when sitting on the floor or in a wheelchair, or using your arms as support; again, when sitting in a wheelchair or using crutches, a walker, etc. More variations can be seen in the barre: support positions (professional).
- Eventually, apply the same process in asymmetrical narrow/crossed (e.g. 3rd) position. I don’t believe that all traditional ballet support positions need to be used by all the dancers.
- In this process, also reflect on the form/function of each of these positions: stability versus mobility, positions that best prepare for turning, take off or extending versus positions used for landing, arriving, suspending, etc.
- What options do the dancers use?
- Is this different or the same as advice you give to your current students?
- How would you assess the dancers’ achievements in performance during an exercise?