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Thread: Rétiré, anyone?

  1. #1
    Crazy Armchair Fan/Resident Nerd
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    Rétiré, anyone?

    Here's a question I have that bugs me every time I watch a figure skating competition on TV: why, if so many skaters take ballet and dance to improve their choreography, never go to rétiré when they're in an upright spin?

    I'm a dancer, and I was always taught that whatever pirouette/piqué-like turn I was doing, my foot should always be in rétiré (the inside of the foot resting against the side of the knee). And yet, I'm watching all these clips from the European Championships, and not only are the skaters' feet not against their knee in an upright spin, but (especially in the men's competition) it's sickled around their leg (which was a huge no-no to my dance teacher). So, is it just poor training/technique or the skaters being too lazy, because I see this too often from the Russian skaters who should (I assume) know better.

    Granted, there are skaters who do go to rétiré in their spins (Kirk, Kostner, Volchkova, OTTOMH), but they are few and far between.

    So, what's the deal?

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    Well, don't forget there's a sharp blade attached to the bottom of the foot. You'd want to be careful about resting that against your knee.

    But also, a forward (= en dedans) spin especially doesn't work as well with the hips fully turned out. It's the free leg coming in and then straightening down along the other side of the supporting leg that continues and increases the momentum.

    No one does en dedans pirouettes on the floor that last for 20+ revolutions and several seconds, but if they could, don't you think they'd adopt whatever technique would allow them to do so?

    When skaters are first learning a one-foot spin, they'll hold the free foot next to the knee in parallel, not turned out, but that's a beginner spin and as soon as the skater can do that reliably with three revolutions or so, they'll start to work on the typical scratch spin position with the free leg coming across.

  3. #3
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    Hi Matt. Good question about a skaters feet. As a old dancer and old skater I would have to say that it is a lot easier to get your foot into a correct "Retire" with ballet shoes then with a skate shoe with BLADES attached. Basically skating spins-scratch, sit, camel, do not require the foot to rest against the side of the knee. For example the scratch spin requires that the foot pass to the front of the leg and travel downward. Personally I don't want to rest my blade against my knee when I'm spinning very fast.

    Granted, there are skaters who do go to rétiré in their spins (Kirk, Kostner, Volchkova, OTTOMH), but they are few and far between.
    I've never noticed, but now that you mentioned it I'm going to have to see for myself

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    howdy matt

    i completely agree with you. i think some of these skaters are just getting lazy. especially in ice dance (during those twizzle sequences, which are nothing more than piquees). it's almost as if they're doing a "modified" (that's the nicest way of putting it) jazz pirouette.

    another reason for this could be that in skating, skaters need to spin faster, and include more turns in their spins, so bringing the foot down a little bit helps, since the rétiré leg position comes with a lot of resistance...

  5. #5
    Well figure skating is NOT ballet. yes a lot of skaters take dance and ballet class, but I think that has more to do with improving line and flexibility as well as soft arm positions than it does with actually achieving dance on this ice (the exception of course being in ice dance).
    FS includes many dance elements, but it is not dance, and wearing heavy boots on your feet with a blade attached is much different than ballet shoes. I don't think we should expect dance and skating to follow the same path as they are not the same.

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    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
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    Question

    I have no idea what the topic of this thread is. All I can make out on the screen is an "R" then a squiggly line, then "ti" followed by another couple of squiggles.:\

  7. #7
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    RealtorGal-
    The subject is about a ballet position and why skaters don't do this position when they spin. It's ok if you don't get it we still like ya! :D

  8. #8
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    In the past two years I've seen some dancers from the Kirov, San Francisco Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and Pacific Northwest Ballet do pirouettes with an ankle-crossed-over-the-knee position, especially the men and also the women in supported pirouettes, whose speed is closest to spinning in figure skating. I don't think there's a uniform position, even in ballet companies where there is a school that has trained their dancers from the time they were children. In the 30's, 40's and 50's, many men did pirouettes with their position no higher than passe. Andre Eglevsky could polish off a dozen of these in about five seconds.

    I also can't imagine how hard it is to push through a flat skate in opposition to a working leg, which is pretty critical to a pirouette in retire.

    Besides the safety issue -- i.e., not having a toe pick rip into the side of the knee or a skate blade slice the front of the knee -- the smaller the circle, the faster the spin, which makes the lower and crossed positions more practical.
    Last edited by hockeyfan228; 02-09-2004 at 05:04 PM.

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    There was a thread recently about Ilia Kulik's appearance in Center Stage. Rgirl had a post that addressed the differences about figure skating and ballet. (Her post is the last one on the thread.)
    http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4256

    I've posted a highlight from it below.

    Originally posted by Rgirl
    ...Too often ballet teachers think ballet is the be-all end-all technique for any athlete and they try to turn the skater (or whatever athlete) into a ballet dancer, which is wrong. What ballet can do best is just what you said, develop core strength and I would add awareness of body movement, how to stretch out and become exapansive as a skater...

    I think the important thing is to remember that although ballet and figure skating share some similarities in emphasizing graceful movement, figure skating did not evolve from ballet. They are fundamentally very different.

    2loop

    edited to fix the link
    Last edited by 2loop2002; 02-09-2004 at 07:55 PM.

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    Thanks, guys for answer my thread!

    I should clarify a couple of things however:

    1. I'm not trying to say anything to the sort that ballet and figure skating are the same. I'll admit I'm speaking as a dancer and figure skating fan, not a figure skater

    2. When I say "rétiré", instead of the classical ballet style, which I realize would cause the skater's blade to be in towards the spinning leg, I'm referring more towards a "jazz passé", where the inside arch of the foot is resting against the side of the knee (the skater's blade would be facing behind them).

    3. I'm not referring to back scratch/crossfoot spins, where it would be darn near impossible to lift your leg high

    To comment to some of the other posts, I don't think it is an issue of heavy boots or not. As I said in the opening post, there are skaters who do hold their foot in a rétiré position in their upright spins. It seems to me more an issue of not paying attention to technique and presentation. Frankly, if a skater can fight centripetal force, grab their blade, yank it above their head, and spin at least six revolutions in a Biellmann spin, I would think the least they could do is point their toes and hold their foot in passé/piqué, rather than away from the supporting leg so there is space between, or out behind their supporting leg, or sickled behind their leg

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Matt
    2. When I say "rétiré", instead of the classical ballet style, which I realize would cause the skater's blade to be in towards the spinning leg, I'm referring more towards a "jazz passé", where the inside arch of the foot is resting against the side of the knee (the skater's blade would be facing behind them).
    You mean with the free leg parallel and the foot next to the knee?

    As I said, that is a beginner position for a one-foot spin. To use it often *is* lazy compared to crossing it to the other side, which you seem to think is lazier, but it's also less efficient for high speeds and many revolutions.

    It is sometimes used for the concluding upright revolutions after revolutions in position (sit, camel, layback, etc.), but it does not count as an additional position in a combo spin and those revolutions don't count toward the required minimum number of rotations in the short program, etc.

    least they could do is point their toes and hold their foot in passé/piqué, rather than away from the supporting leg so there is space between, or out behind their supporting leg, or sickled behind their leg
    I'm not sure what positions you're referring to by "away from the supporting leg so there is space between" or "out behind their supporting leg" -- maybe they are sloppy positions, and maybe they're standard or variant positions that work better for skating than the positions used in ballet or jazz turns. Can you give some examples from something that we might have seen on TV (for those of us who don't watch on-line and haven't seen Europeans yet)?

    As for the "sickled behind their leg," I think you're referring to an upright spin variation that Ilya Klimkin and some others have done on purpose specifically choosing to hold the foot in a more difficult position crossed behind the supporting leg because it's harder and less neutral than just next to knee. It might not look good to a ballet-trained eye, but believe me it isn't lazy, it's a lot harder than holding the foot next to the knee.

  12. #12
    Joey Votto Fangirl KwanFan1212's Avatar
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    Moving this over to the skaters area of the board.....:D

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    Why should this be in the skater's section if it's not about any of the posters' skating experiences?

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    Wow, a ballet question in relation to figure skating.

    From my ballet days, I remember calling retire a passe. As regards pirouettes, it is not all that common as a solo move. A dancer may do the normal pirouette by engulfing one foot around the other ankle and when completing the pirouette, he/she can bring it up to retire then down as a finish to fifth position.

    In skating there is no 'instep'. The blade eliminates any use of an arched foot. That is one of the prime differences between dancing and skating. Skaters, however, have learned over the years to approximate dancing in many ways. A true retire (or passe, as I would call it) is impossible on skates but one could bring the skate to the knee as a finish to a spin.

    To spin in a true retire position would be impossible because the knee on the free leg could not be turned out, but it could be simply lifted to the knee in the direction of the skating leg.

    If you've been both a dancer and skater you find it amusing how skating adapts to dancing - not quite perfectly, but enough to make the moves in the faux fashion.

    Joe

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    RealtorGal, the problem is that some word processing software doesn't recognize letters with diacritical markings over them, so just displays gibberish. The word in the title is "Retire" with accent marks over the e's.

    Not that I know what this word means, but evidently a lot of dancers on this board do.

    Mathman

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