Teaching a dancer to walk like a dancer is almost as hard as teaching a toddler to walk….Well at least the dancer has somewhat of an idea of how to stand up in the first place. Beginning to teach a dancer to walk in a portion of choreography, is like trying to break an old habit. The dancer needs to change from heel first walking to toes first walking. They also need to change from a parallel placed step to a turned out place step. The dancer needs to feel, along with proper turn out, their weight distribution, the transfer of weight from one foot to the other and most important, proper body alignment. With all of this, the dancer also needs to know how the choreographer wants the arms, hands and head and the timing to the music. Sounds like a lot of work for just walking.
Walking in dance must begin with the dancer knowing how to correctly pointe and stretch the foot. Dancers attempting to place the foot properly on the floor is actually the second part of the walk. This important part aspect with the knowledge of a correct battement tendu . The beat of the leg with proper turnout from the hip and the stretch of the foot. With out this embedded in the dancer, the result will be just plain walking.
Ballet walks can originate from any position. Many choreographers like to begin with attitude derriere a terre, or B+ position, for a more advanced dancer’s look. For the beginner dancer, when adding ballet walks to a piece of choreography, I like to begin with pointe tendu devant. This position gives the dancer a thought of beginning with the stretch in the foot. The transfer of weight to that working foot is through the toes, ball of the foot (metatarsals) and then heel while the back foot releases the weight though the heel, ball of the foot and toes. The body lifts and hopefully appears floating, above the smooth transfer of weight as the dancer moves though the space that is given.
Port de bras is essential for ballet walks. Without it the step has no creativity. Beginning with arms at 5th en bas and using Cecchetti first port de bras, is a nice beginning appearance.
Cecchetti first port de bras is as such:
Beginning with arms 5th en bas:
Raise the arms to 5th position en avant
Open the arms to 2nd position
From this introductory port de bras, the arms may be brought to various different positions as the dancer is moving across the floor.
Ballet walks can be a great linking step to change a formation when used with correct and graceful arms. To make plain walking beautiful, some things to remember are:
-Extending the leg and turn out the foot before the weight is transferred.
-Walk with correct body alignment, pulled up and lifted
-Walk with one foot in front of the other, so at the foot is place in the 4th position
When you walk like a princess or prince you will appear as one….