Category Archives: 000 Ballet Dancers

Continuing the Conversation

Ballet Portfolio gofundme 52916 Pierre Bonnard 1867 to 1947 The Converation at Arcachon

I haven’t posted in quite a while, call this being extremely busy! So much has happened this year in terms of personal responsibilities: moving back to New York, working for several months as Director of The New York Ballet Institute, re-starting ballet programs, commuting, working, personal goals, college preparation for all of my children, and just generally running, that I haven’t really had time to post at all, or the inclination. I didn’t forget about you, but at times I was just too exhausted to post and other times the well seemed dry.

I had hoped to start a school (really continue one this year) and a lot of work went into that project which was not recompensed, but that was a gamble, really, and though the signatures for the grant program were obtained through over three thousand hours of promotion, we did not get the grant in the end. The proprietors moved further upstate due to necessity and comfort, and my daughter sought training elsewhere. There will always be good training available, and I believe I brought a lot of attention to their expertise and historical importance, but after everything was said and done, they did not have the drive to pursue a full-time education program without substantial injections of cash into their school. I suppose it will go unused, and though they promised me the use of it, I really did not have the desire to proceed without them-what would be the point?

I do have a ballet and dance background, undergraduate degree, and teaching experience, but compared to theirs, my knowledge and abilities pale drastically; I would not wish to take over in areas where I have no such expert knowledge and acumen. I still believe they are two of the finest teachers I have ever met, and despite age and encumbrances are quite able to teach. They are quite dear to me, despite our having to basically call it quits. Oddly, I received an email this year that we were in the running again and had enough votes to qualify again-I ignored the email recently.

Quite a lot of schools have popped up over the past year and many of them are doing quite well: French, American, and Russian, in the city. Some are taking grand steps forward based on my promotion scheme and I am happy to see that this is working for them. It is important to speak up and self-promote; a lot of fine teachers go unrecognized because they do not have the foresight or gumption to do blatant self-promotion, but this is sometimes what is needed to get students.

After NYBI, I went right into another possible project with Ken Ludden of The Fonteyn Institute, and Ken is a very fine person and good friend. He really did not need assistance which I could provide, but he is developing the institute in his own design which has worked very well for him in the past. Sometimes, there is just not a resolve to achieve an end by two people, with both in charge in varying degrees, so I do not think there was a place for me there, as he had originally thought. We did attempt a couple of things together and now he is commencing new and exciting projects.

My daughter had her last year of high school this year and this took some very arduous work to overcome all the obstacles and to achieve her graduation and continue ballet, which she has done, but not without a feeling that the year was not as progressive as she had hoped. But, she did do some remarkable work, and has made some friends, and met some teachers, whom she will probably retain as lifelong friends. She learned alot, and a new passion is the French style of ballet, a yearning for international travel, and the desire to obtain a four-year degree as well, so I cannot fault her verve or gradual maturity. I am sure she is going to make a great lady one day, and no one could ave a fairer view of the word, I think. I am extremely proud of her and hope that she will be able to continue dancing for as long as it moves her. She has a current campaign for study abroad here Education Campaign: Dance in France  I hope you will check it out and consider contributing to her dreams!

After a long year of working, my sons have returned to college, determined to succeed, so in all, I couldn’t be happier at the outcome, even though the going was, at times, pretty rough this year. We survived and have plans for the future all around. I hope your ballet and dance studies have continued, that you have made contributions of relevance to you, and that your work is motivating and inspirational. Above all, I hope you Keep on Dancing!

A Song for my Grandmother, Loretta 1920-2014

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Loretta Meischner
Loretta Meischner

Someone once said, “Sometimes it’s not the quality of the voice that makes the song good, sometimes it’s the road it has traveled to get there.” Well, she almost made it to 100. Had she had a little easier life, she might have lived longer. But 94 is plenty long, unless it is someone you love. I guess its okay to be selfish. Sometimes. i saw this great movie the other day, about these old people and it was called A Song for Marion. Vanessa Redgrave, Terrance Stamp. Jemma Arterton. Just and amazing experience. Tears just poured down my face most of the time and I was ready to be cynical, but it just happened. The chief theme, for me, was this woman’s immovable and great love, which caused he, with her last breath, to help her husband find a way to be happy, give a gift, teach him how to love and live, after she was gone. She wanted to give him this great thing, happiness and a creative outlet, a path to joy. It made me think of what my grandma had done for me and for my daughter, and my mother, and how she got better at giving and helping and supporting as her life went on, and how she became totally unselfish at a time in her life when she could, and how I misunderstood her for so long. About healing old wounds and forgiveness. About love and remembrance.

It has been a long road in my family. Not the road only traveled by me, but the road the women who brought me up and influenced me, have traveled on. That’s where I am to some degree-where they have left me to continue. I think I have a clearer direction of what that is meant to be and how it is important to pass that down, somehow to my children. Now I have children, and they will travel on. That’s family and perpetuity. Crazy, but true. My grandmother was a far better person than I am in many ways. Sometimes, she seemed perfect. I remember her when I was about three or 4, visiting us in Florida. She stepped off the plane, and I saw her approach as we waited in our car, in a black knit suit dress, single strand of pearls, dark red hair swept up off to the side, arched eyebrows, simple and elegant, slim and graceful. I remember her soft tanned skin and her beautiful eyes, and I remember how she smelled. I thought, is this my grandma? A grandma? Not what you’d picture. Loretta. My mother’s mother.

My grandmother passed away August 21, 2014.  She was 94 years old. She had a very full life and liked nothing better than music, singing and dancing, the outdoors. She was born in 1920 to a mother of Bohemian descent and a father of German and Austrian descent. They had twelve children. One died then. My grandmother has outlived nearly all the rest. I think she was like the best kitten in the litter. Everyone wanted that one and they all resented her. As a payroll master of the mines in Coal City, IL they had to scrimp and save. She was quite a woman and he was a very much loved character. I think he loved none of his children better than the resourceful and beautiful Loretta and he loved my mother. He loved me, too. Otto Meischner and Lara Eleanor Sistek, and Loretta Mae Meischner. I never knew her by that name, and there aren’t too many pictures of her from that early on. It is hard to imagine her wild and skinny, a poor child running the hills and hollows of Illinois, by the river. But that is where she grew up and where she always lived. The furthest she went was California, with me. She liked her home and she loved her mother and father.

My grandmother was an extremely beautiful woman all of her life. At 94, she still had the body of an eighteen year-old-hard to believe, but true. Hers was not a life (always) of abstinence, but she would say things like, “I haven’t eaten ALL day, so now I can have a sundae. Do you want a sundae, too?” She was not brought up with very much, so she learned to sew so well, she could look at you, size you up, and whip out a copy of the latest suit or fashion. She had long fingers and they flew! Of course this lent itself to other artistic/creative endeavors, such as playing musical instruments and hairdressing. She could turn your curls onto her fingers and make them just so long and pretty. She was very difficult to deal with at the hairdresser’s. I remember looking at pictures of my mother, when she was little, dressed up in costumes, to the nines, twirling and dancing on the roof like a dervish-a product of her mother’s designs. I thought she was so pretty and professional looking, but my mother hated being made up, sitting still, and being dressed like a doll, but my grandmother would have the prettiest doll. She bragged about my mother’s dancing, was a real stage mother, and took her to classes, as she as a little girl had been unable to afford them, so of course she wanted her own daughter to do the things she wished she could have.My mother wouldn’t cooperate, but she did love to dance and she, also, was good at it.

But that didn’t mean she didn’t learn to dance! She danced incredibly well, was naturally limber and at 89 could still kick the back of her head with her pointed toe. As a little girl, she and her friend would wait outside the dance studio and when the other little girls came out, she would sidle up to them, get them to teach her what they did and how to do many things. Not surprisingly, they were a little peeved when she could do them better! She had an aunt (her mother’s sister) that danced in the theater, and traveled as a dancer with a company. When she was little, that aunt (Mary) invited she and her mother to Chicago to see her perform and it made an impression on my grandmother, who was always active physically and athletically gifted. She taught herself everything, but she knew how to dance properly-I do not really know where she learned it, but she did. Maybe she learned a bit of it from the movies. She would sing, and play guitar and she and her brother would put on little shows with dancing. They ice skated together and swam. She was also a champion swimmer. I guess her father felt she took after him-he spoke twelve languages fluently, did calligraphy and was an unbeaten bicycle racer as well as being very intelligent he had an irascible wit. She was my grandmother. She was a big fan of the movies, so my mother saw just about all of them, and when my grandmother got it into her head that my mother would dance a Spanish variation, she sewed a dress entirely of crepe paper with layers and layers of red skirt which outshone the brightest costume of the event. My mother must have enjoyed it, and was very supportive of me in dance, in a different way. I think she felt she could not be the kind of mother her mother was, and she must have always been living in that shadow. My mother was the best mother for me. I was shocked when my grandmother mailed me, as a teenager, her harem costume, that she had sewn, from the movies, like the ones in La Bayadere and the Nutcracker. It was so authentic, probably from her imagination, but she wore it!

She used her gifts to the best advantage she could. Around her a light shone, and she was happy. Her lack of wealth never stopped her. but she did increase it by careful planning and saving. When my mother passed away in 2009, and after her husband died, my grandmother made a very big move and decided to become a part of our very different family over a thousand miles away. I admit, I had not known my grandma as well as I thought I did. I did not know she had such gumption, was such a lady or was so intelligent. I always though of her as a pretty grandma, but not being mature, did not recognize her sharp intellectual capacities. I did not see her for the person she really was, nor my mother, and my grandmother has helped me to see that. It took this long. A different kind of smart and sharp. Always ready for the new and the pretty, fiercely competitive, and a real survivor. So, for the last five years, she has lived with my family. She seemingly took the place of a much loved grandma, and for me this was helpful in what would have been a very depressing time for me, but it was not always easy for my children, though I think in the end, a good experience. I began to know, really know, and understand my mother’s mother, and my mother in a way I had not been receptive to while growing up. Together, it made getting through my mother’s passing easier for both of us, and we shared our similar grief. We forged ahead, and I learned there is much more to life each decade, and it does not have to stop at fifty or sixty. The picture above is of my grandmother in about 1979. She would have been about 60 years old. That was now almost as long ago. Not quite, but it seems like a long time. That light was never dull-not for a moment! She brought into our home, as much as she could, what she could, spread her love around and was there for us, and I hope we, too were there for her in a way that she needed. She stayed with us and filled to capacity (almost) that void, so intense was she. It was a coincidence, really. She was ornery and mischievous, and she has filled my life with her presence, making things possible that never would have been otherwise, for all of us, but especially my daughter, whom she gave money to start taking ballet lessons. She wanted her to. My mother would have loved that she did that, but she never knew. Each time my daughter had a performance, a costume, or a new step, my grandma would want to see it, share in the excitement and moment of it, and even went to her early classes, gave her corrections.

So, besides bringing my mother into this world, and all of the other things that she has done and accomplished, without her, I would not have been here and developed the appreciation for dance that I have. My mother would not have been the compendium of ballet knowledge that she was and taught me the things she did, a way of looking for things, that she did, and encouraging my own creativity. My daughter would not have probably ever started ballet because we just simply could not afford it. My sons would never have been supportive of it. It’s hard to find the thread, but when following it, it always comes back to her. I hope one day my grandmother’s creative legacy continues and we create a long continuum of dancers, and they will all be there in some small part because of my grandmother’s great gifts and legacy to each of us.

My grandmother was a perfectionist. She did nothing and finished nothing, that was wrong, always right. Every morning every hair was in place, she was always the best person she could be, inside and out. She always wanted my mother to be like her, and my daughter to do things correctly, and she always wanted me to have a better life. It seemed to be her especial gift to always look serene and graceful. She always took great pains to perfect things, to learn things every day, and to make everything around her more beautiful, and those around her, and their productions-whatever it was- paled in comparison. Her haters attributes and hearts were sometimes less, and they resented her- often they were jealous and mean-spirited, even into death, but my grandmother said, “Hooey!” and “That’s a shame!”, but never stopped for a moment to allow their negativity steal her precious moments of happiness. She was always kind and gracious and never said a bad word about anyone. She thought that a waste of time and she went right on, improving herself and making the area around her even more beautiful. She led by example. I truly learned a lot from her actions and her consistency of behavior, but I had no idea she was so tough on the inside. She had real mettle.

Knowing her better has made me understand my mother and myself just a little bit more, and I do not feel so removed from the chain as I once did, now I see how my mother was like my grandmother and how I am a little like them both, and I would not change it for the world. Once upon a time I did not feel that way. I thought myself different, removed, even above it. My grandmother told me right before she passed away that I was beautiful, as though she had always known I had thought I wasn’t. Maybe she wanted me to (finally) know she thought I was or maybe it was the nicest thing she could think of to say besides “I love you!” She said it repeatedly over and over a night or two before she passed. Right up until the end she would not relent. She really lived fully to her last breath. There is a lesson in that for me, and if I can keep up with her, even a bit, then I am going to be fine. But I had better try. She had a true lust for life and loved all of it, and everyone, not just the good. She always learned from the bad, she said, so whenever something did not go well, she changed it, made it better next time, improved it, was nicer-whatever it took. Behind what some people might have thought was an average ability and intelligence was someone who was the most composed fighter-a real champion-that I have ever seen. I hope she has gone to a place where she is free and her spirit is released from the chains of the earth, knowing no bounds. I will always remember her dancing. They say none of us is perfect, but she was living proof that you could try.

I saw a little dragonfly today, buzzing around me and I thought, perhaps her spirit inhabited it. I do not know what made me think of that, but I would like to know she was watching over us all, and doing what she loved and making us remember to do keep trying to do better at it all.


Differences of Movement, Chapter 1: France

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In 1581, an Italian dancing master, by the name of Balthasar de Beaujoyleux (Baltarazini), a violinist, who changed his name after going to France (court of Catherine de Medici), organized royal entertainments. He requested special music, lyrics, costumes, and scenery for a Ballet Comique. The most famous of these courtly dances was given the name: Comiques de la Reine. It seems to have been structured over a great length of time (ten or so hours) and the location is also questionable, but it did occur in France. After this politically successful and lavish expenditure, the court of the King of France, became the home of the development of ballet. Italian performances were developing into early forms of opera, ballets on horseback were popular in German courts, and in England, the Masque, a spectacle of verse and decoration highlighted dance. You can see some working examples of these in the series, The Tudors. (Dancing from The Tudors)

French ballet was dramatic, romantic and extravagant. Each courts’ expression of the dance was mirrored in its own personality. The main aspect controlling the effects of these productions was the ability of the dancers themselves, usually the royal personages, and the dances had to be accessible for performers with less training. Because not much training was possible or desirable by the royals, there was much emphasis in the music, lighting, scenery and costumes, and theatrics and less actual dancing. So, lyrics and verse, music and acting were the chief means of expression in these productions. Even with all of this, movement was the medium and it literally took our viewers someplace else, to exotic lands, gave impressions, attempted to realize historical themes and above all drama and romance were highlighted. (dances and music from the time of Louis XIV)

Jean Babtiste Lully
Jean Babtiste Lully

Between 1643 and 1715, no accident-the life span of Louis XIV, a new period of dignity and artistry for the ballet was marked. The king was an able social dancer and all court personages who mattered were by now, privately tutored in the art of ballet, and more importantly perhaps, he was a great patron of the arts. His musician, Jean Babtiste Lully, worked with the king to integrate music and drama to form a whole new presentation of ballet. Artists and poets were seconded to include their work toward the entertainment and an academy of music and dance was established to perpetuate and improve modern dancing. The Ecole de Danse of The Paris Opera Ballet was the product of this alliance and was the second great school of dancing, established by Lully within the confines of his musical organization. Today, however, the original academie continues in its mission, to train artists in myriad ways of dancing for performance of the great French classics, as well as modern works of theater, dance and music as the Paris Conservatoire, which is still the first actual academy of dancing. The phrase “modern works” means a lot, and is continually changing. Meeting in one of the rooms of King Louis’ palace beforehand, for several years, a group of dancing masters (which became the early conservatoire-The Academie Royale de Musique et de Danse) improved the art. These original 13 members were trained as professional dancers, and from them stem all of the future dancers of the western and eastern ballet culture. Lully was the first director of the Opera, as it was popularly known, and the public training of dancers from amateur to professional, began. It’s first production, called Pomone, with dance interludes, choreographed by Charles-Louis (Pierre) Beauchamps (1631-1705), also a dancer, took place on a converted tennis court. In these productions, and those to ensue, earthy characters could be played by these non-aristocrats, but noble characters had to be played by the monarchy. This model is still clearly visible today, where in most classical ballet, you have the male and female principals, danseuse and danseur nobles, for the pinnacle roles, as stars, and the more earthy (and interesting) parts played by more versatile dancers in the corps, or soloists-still, well-trained, over posers, bystanders and the corps. By 1681, the all-male rule had changed. Mademoiselle de la Fontaine (1655-1738), appeared in a Beauchamps ballet (he as Mars), as the ballerina of Lully’s opera, Le Triomphe de L’Amour, still performed by the great classical ballet theaters. His production did not include only one, but four females in roles. Although not much is known of La Fontaine, her likeness adorns a gallery of portraits of France’s famous ballerinas in L’Opera. Either these lead dancer’s skill, graces, or perhaps, influential patronage, gave them precedence over their sister dancers. She was hailed, as the “Queen of Dance,” but since she was the only one, who can you really compare her to? Thus publicity of dance had already begun.

Mde de la fontaine
Mdme de la Fontaine

For these first new choreographers and dancers, challenges included creating ballets for the stage, rather than the private palaces of kings. A great new theater, The Paris Opera, was built, and turned over to Lully, by the king, for the express performance of these soon-to be-created works. These were to be for the amusement and edification of the public. Greater pomp and circumstance could not have begun or existed anywhere else, for perhaps no other king was so large-minded and extravagant, so despite Louis X IVs’ other reputation, we can thank him for the arts, for the theater and for the music, and for the dance and acting that were to come and have turned into the entertainment of ballet we see today. It has been a long journey, and an expensive one.

A technique called ‘ballet’ was then pronounced, a proscenium arch was created on the stage, to allow dancers to be seen from only one direction, causing them to move and pose in such a way as to give the audience a view only of only what was in front and turnout, among others affects, was established. Turnout, a principle long in use by now (since before the late 1500’s) was given a prominent position and fundamental emphasis in a dancer’s training-meaning the turnout of the legs at the hip joint. Whether it was known by now, or not, that some ballet movement could only be achieved this way, is really not that well documented, or important, but the logic was simple. A dancer, wishing to face his audience, needed to move sideways as well as forwards and backwards, and for even greater visibility, he needed to lift his leg to the side, rather than to the front. It does appear somewhat comical in engravings from the time, but this was taken very seriously, and for good reasons. These movements were more easily achieved when the legs were rotated outward. Choreographers who had created ballets for smaller rooms, with floor patterns for the dancers, now shifted their study to dances including vertical space and large spaces and theater. The dance of elevation was conceived.

Theatre des artes 1794 to 1820
Theatre des Artes, 1794 to 1820

Ballet had developed positions-five positions for the feet had been used by dancers for many years, but was now firmly established by Beauchamps, now the

Pierre Beauchamps 1789
Pierre Beauchamps, 1789

ballet master, responsible also, for giving male courtiers the parts of female roles-they were masked or course! Female courtiers did not dance. He improvised Les Nopces de Pelee et de Thetis (The Marriage of Peleus and Thetus) on April 16, 1654, in Paris, at the Salle du Petit Bourbon, in the Louvre Museum, where a lot of similar early ballets were produced. It is a grand space. This was rather an opera plus dances and not strictly a ballet. But, here, nevertheless, ballet was not accidental, but integrated, as a parallel to the operatic action. Themes of a classical nature were acceptable to the court. There was almost always a subtext in the ballets of politics, through the libretto, and there is the assumption that the theater was created to expound and emphasize the true history or politics of the royalty in ballet as conceived by the aristocracy-or a new way to publicize their exploits and victories. This ballet boasted the defeat of the Fronde, daring Spain, a possible new threat, to risk war. However, the principle reason ballet survived in these performances was that the king wanted to dance, and so ballets were inserted between acts for him to do so. But, we can assume, in these lifetimes, that Beauchamps ingratiated himself to the king and that the technique of ballet was born for ordering these steps and making them memorable and pronounceable by the court, especially with reference to the king doing them, i.e., “your instep is lovely, your highness, in the first position”, and so on.  The court learned these terms, almost before the dancers! Too bad today’s ballet audiences are not as eager to please! Also, these great productions would not have been possible without the finances of the King to promote them. The sets and machinery and transformations achieved by Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678), a designer who had a profound affect on stage space, was a scenic genius, and designer and engineer of these events: La Finta Pazza, Les Nopces des Pelee et de Thetis, and Les Facheux-were all glorious and legendary works, resulting in the king’s feeling the need of a theater to showcase them properly. Maybe the most magnanimous gesture in his royal history. According to decree by Louis XIV, the academie was started for the purpose of “reestablishing the art in its perfection.”


Also, in 1661, the king’s finance minister, Nicholas Fouguet, presented a grand fete to honor King Louis, in an opening of a summer palace. The housewarming’s entertainment was Moliere’s Les Facheaux, which qualifies as the first of the genre known as comedie-ballet. Favored, Moliere was employed by the king to develop the comedie-ballet further. The audiences had seen their comedies and their ballets separately. Now they could see the danced entrees that came between the play’s various acts as related to the playwrights scheme, rather than decorative diversions to cover the time actors needed to change costumes, although, these are still used today, even in ballets. So we have Lully, composer, Moliere, playwright, Baltarazini, Director/ballet master/violinist and Beauchamps, choreographer/dancer. As superintendent of the king’s ballets, in the 1661 dance academy, Beauchamps is the father of ballet. He is also the author of the now-codified ballet starter alphabet of the first five positions, and possibly arm positions. As the king was now aged, he quit dancing in 1670, which allowed these principles the freedom to expand, and reduced the risk of offending the king, by training and placing those more adept to take the leads in the productions.

Jean Antoine Watteau, Fetes Venitiennes

By the late 17th century, women dancers had joined, but not  superseded male dancers. When Lully died in 1687, of complications from stabbing himself in the foot with his own baton, the theatrical form of the Opera-ballet was popular. While similar to ballet a entree, these productions aimed for even more thematic and dramatic coherence. They included what we today would recognize as opera, which here served to introduce individual ballets, dances that elaborated on some individual overall theme, and brought more imagination to the table with less recitation and repetition. One writer, called the dances “beautiful Watteaus,” more like moving paintings. The librettist, Antoine Houdar de la Motte,  identified them as “spicy miniatures demanding graphic precision, gracefulness of the brush and superior brilliant coloring.” He was of course referring to the entirety of the elements and not just the dancing. Andre Campa, who followed in Lully’s footsteps created the

andre campa
Andre Campa

opera-ballet, L”Europe Galante (1697). It was so successful that it marked the attendance of theater-goers, for the dance, for not only the music, but, maybe even more-the dance. To increase the popularity further, it was suggested by the composer, to lengthen the dances and shorten the skirts of the female dancers.

L'Europe Galante
L’Europe Galante, libretto

In 1700 , a description of of the art of French Court dancing for the theatre, as well as the ballroom, was written down in a book called, ” Choreographie, ou l’arte de descrire la danse”, by Raoul Auger Feuillet (1650?-1709?). The books characters, figures, and illustrative signs, were an early attempt to create a dance notation comparable to that for music. Choreographie spread around Europe and although a dance notation system was never universally recognized, it did give rise to other individual systems inspired by it. Beauchamps and Louis Pecourt (who succeeded Beauchamp after Lully’s death) co-authored the book, and are generally acknowledged as the source(s) for the steps contained therein.pecourtLater dance writers became ‘notators,’ but for the time being, choreography came from two words, (Greek) khorea-dance, and (German) graphein-write. Thus the English word, choreography. Thus, while the choreographer was the person who wrote the dances down on paper (like a stenographer), the teacher or ballet-master was the one who created them for the stage space (choreographer). These are two important differences, even today, as dancers learn technique only from the teacher, and are posed or arranged by the choreographer-so you can see it has changed completely. Well, not quite, but the ballet master or teacher, today, is frequently only seen as a teacher-perhaps one modern problem in today’s ballet society.  By the early 1700’s ballet schooling was largely already in place, and some of Feuillet’s terms are slightly different than today’s. Some choreographers (and teachers) use the same names to distinguish somewhat different movements. Today’s jete (a jump move instigated by a thrown foot), sissone (a jump off two feet landing on one, named after Msr. Sissone), chasse (a step with one foot chased by the other), entrechat (a jump move to “weave” the feet in the air), pirouette (a whirl or spin in place), and cabriole (a jumped

CHoreographie; pirouettes
‘Choreographie’, pirouettes

caper with the legs briefly closing and opening again in the air).  All of these remain much as they were in Feuillet’s time, however, jetes are called ‘degages’ and ‘jetes’ by Vaganova students, (also ‘entrelaces’) and ‘tour jetes’ by Italians and Americans (such as Cecchetti and Balanchine students). Sissones are generally always called sissones by everyone and chasses as well. Entrechats constitute: entrechat quatre, entrechat trois, entrechat six (6 beats), and others, although there is some dispute as to whether the beat itself is counted or also the opening (as two). Semantics aside, the movement are similar, but the nuance and gesture, including epaulment does almost certainly vary by school. In most techniques, these are virtually the same, but degage turns (Vaganova) are called lame ducks (RAD). Some teachers will call the pas de chat, grand pas de chats, saute chat, or grand jetes, depending on the teacher (er, ballet master and choreographer). There are many differences in dancing terms, but more particularly the name of the move(s) associated with it, multiples and extensions of it, depending on the way the person explaining it learned it, and in some schools, they might just say, “Turn”. This is even more difficult to write, much harder to interpret, impossible to remember unless witnessed and demonstrated, and is a prime reason for learning to notate your own dances! Maybe more from history would exist accurately, if we could unravel it. Beyond that, we would have to agree. Some of these terms, were specifically excluded from ballroom (or social) dancing eventually, and were reserved especially for ballet dancers, or those with more training to execute them properly, but these dictionaries, you see, only represent a fraction of the meaning or possible meanings.

Danse d’ecole came to not only represent the school of dancing, but the body language associated with it demonstrated by the students of it. Whew! It also serves as a synonym for ballet dancing in  general.  So after, you believe you know everything about ballet, you find you really know nothing with certainty at all. Though Feuillet’s writing included working from the five positions of the feet credited to Beauchamps, it was not until The Dancing Master (1725) by Pierre Rameau (1674-1748), a social dancing manual, was published, that they were formally documented and credited to Beauchamps. Rameau was dancing master to the Queen of Spain.

Rameau Social dancing manual
Rameau’s Social Dancing manual, ‘fourth position’