Ballet question

I’m getting into it—watching, that is, and I have many questions. Here are two:

  1. Whenever a dancer (male or female) spins, they always go clockwise. Which is a little odd, when you think about it. Why do they never—or hardly ever—spin counterclockwise?

  2. The stage is usually dirty looking, thanks to the resin that is spread on it to help prevent the dancers from skidding, I suppose. The soles of the dancers slippers (or even their bare feet) get blackened from this resin, which is a little distracting. But when a ballerina’s knees touch the floor, her stockings (panty hose?), even pure white ones, don’t get discolored. Why is that?

I don’t know the answer but I’ll bump this because now you’ve got me curious.

Thanks for the bump! If you think you could never be interested in ballet, buy (or rent) one DVD: Essential Ballet. It just might change your mind.

The resin used to improve traction on a smooth floor for ballet is usually a whitish color, ranging from pure white to light grey. I have never seen it spread out on the floor, as having too much of it in one place can have the opposite effect and cause more falls. Usually it’s placed in a shallow box and the dancers stomp around in it before taking the stage. It doesn’t really stick to clothing, and shouldn’t really be on the stage floor in great enough amounts to discolor tights. Stage lights and spotlights also brighten everything up, especially on video. You’d be amazed at how ratty some of those lovely looking costumes really are after watching them on video.

Unfortunately, it’s very hard to keep a stage in very good condition after a while. If it’s been around a while, you have to consider that hundreds of feet have crossed it over the years, wearing all sorts of shoes. I once danced on a stage so old that the wood was splintering off. I ended up with a 4 inch splinter in my thigh during a performance, and that wasn’t pretty at all. So yeah, they’re all pretty dirty, and the finish of the stage floor could be in any sort of condition - painted, chipped, splintering.

The soles of ballet flats are sueded leather, and it doesn’t take long at all for them to pick up the dirt from wherever the dancer has walked. A professional dancer may go through a pair of flats or more per month. With toe shoes, there aren’t really any soles to speak of, usually just a thin piece of leather that covers the seam, since they’re not really made to be walked on. The bit of exposed satin on the toe and heel gets quite filthy as well.

My guess on the spinning is that it’s easier to spin in the direction of one’s dominant hand. It’s all about balance, and just as important as making a spin look nice is landing it in the proper position to go into the next move. There’s a technique called spotting where you keep your eyes trained to one spot for the duration of the spin, and snap your head around to find that spot again when necessary. I am right-dominant, so I think it would feel completely unnatural to spin to my left. Perhaps a lefty with dance experience may back this up for me, but you could just get up and try it yourself. Spin or do a fast turn both ways, and see which feels more natural.

14 years of ballet lessons, performances, and teaching here.

I’m a lefty and I still spin to the right. Maybe because it’s everyone else’s dominant hand. We did have to practice in both directions, but if I do it randomly for silliness, I always spin clockwise.

How often do you go through toe shoes? Is it my imagination, or do you use a new pair for each performance? I thought I read that somewhere.

Spinning. Do you tend to spn easier/faster on a clean (un-resined) floor, say in the rehearsal room or on a resin-strewn stage?

But if you were a lefty, would you have the option to spin counterclockwise? It seems that most ballet choreography demands the clockwise spin (according to my very very limited exposure).

Right handed, and it’s much easier for me to spin counter clockwise - or using my right side to lead toward my left side.

In tap, you’re generally not spinning quite as fast, plus it’s generally just a single rotation, so it’s not the same thing – but – the direction of the spin is given in the choreography, and might be in either direction. Rhythm turns (a particular turning step – hop, brush, toe-heel-toe-heel, touch) are always done counter-clockwise, for instance.

I am wrong wrong wrong.

I just checked out a section of Essential Ballet, highlighting Larisa Lezhina and Farukh Ruzimatov dancing a section of Diana and Actaeon.

Each one turned clock- and counterwise as the turns as the choreography demanded it.

I ordered Paquita from amazon, and it came in while this thread was moving along. It’s danced by the Ballet de l’Opera national de Paris, and I think their stage is huge, compared to the Covent Garden postage stamp.

But my grandkids are coming over very soon, so I’ll probably not get to see it until tonight.