Dance Teacher Tips
Forsythe's in the middle, somewhat elevated uses the battement like an attack. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet

Just before retiring in 2015, Sylvie Guillem appeared on "HARDtalk with Zeinab Badawi," the BBC's hard-hitting interview program. Badawi told Guillem,

"Clement Crisp of the Financial Times, 14 years ago, described your dancing as vulgar."

Guillem responded,

"Yeah, well, he said that. But at the same time, when they asked Margot Fonteyn what she thought about lifting the leg like this she said, 'Well, if I could have done it, I would have done it.' "

They were discussing Guillem's signature stroke—her 180-degree leg extension à la seconde. Ballet legs had often flashed about in the higher zones between 135 and 160 degrees before. But it wasn't until the virtuoso French ballerina regularly extended her leg beside her ear with immaculate poise in the 1980s that leg extensions for ballet dancers in classical roles reached their zenith. Traditionalists like Clement Crisp were not taken with it.

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That is the message of this commercial, right? Watch the stunning Polina Semionova peel herself open like a banana in the most beautiful 16 seconds ever. On a successful advertising note, those jeans really do stretch! Well played, Uniqlo. I’m gonna get a pair and give this a shot.

Technique Videos
Photo by Jim Lafferty

Igal Perry's students can finish a ballet grand allegro, hop into a Limón technique class and end the day voguing. The founder of New York City's Peridance Capezio Center, Perry is a ballet teacher, but his goal is to mold versatile dancers prepared to work with any choreographer. "If a dancer is trained in one particular style, she is limited overall," he says. "Some dancers may look fantastic in ballet, with feet stretched and passés at 180 degrees, but they can't do anything but ballet repertory. My philosophy is to train dancers to be wholesome, so that they can do everything, including tap, including hip hop—forms that give you different approaches to movement."

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