Ukrainian Dancing/About Ukrainian Dancing/Standard Dance Terminology

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Overview[edit]

This section defines basic dance terms that will be used to describe dance steps. Most of these terms are derived from French ballet terms. A good reference book on ballet barre routines will provide additional information.


Placement[edit]

Supporting Leg - this is the leg which is bearing the dancer's weight. May be abbreviated SL.

Working Leg - this is the leg that is not bearing weight, and which is used to perform a movement while the dancer's weight is on the supporting leg. May be abbreviated WL.


Foot Positions[edit]

First Position - feet are placed with heels touching and toes extended outward (turned out) forming an angle. Weight should be balanced evenly between toes and heels.

Second Position - feet are placed shoulder-width apart, with the feet turned out so that the heels are closer together than the toes. Weight should be balanced evenly on both feet.

Third Position - feet are placed so that the heel of one foot is touching the instep of the other foot. Toes should be turned out. Weight should be balanced evenly between both feet. Usually, the right heel touches the instep of the left foot, but the position may be reversed.

Fourth Position - feet are placed so that one foot is extended forward and slightly in front of the other foot. The gap between the feet is roughly the length of the dancer's foot. The feet should be turned out. Weight should be balanced evenly between both feet. Usually, the right foot is extended forward, but the position may be reversed.

Fifth Position - feet are placed so that the heel of one foot is touching the outside of the big toe of the other foot. The feet should be turned out. Weight should be balanced evenly between both feet. Usually, the right foot is in front, but the position may be reversed.

Sixth Position or First Position Parallel - feet are placed next to one another, with toes and heels touching.


Arm Positions - Individual[edit]

Hands or fists on hips - Hands or fists are placed on the waist, resting just above the hip bones. Elbows are pushed slightly forward. For hands on hips, fingers should be held tightly together, and should be pointing towards the belly button. The thumbs extend backwards, behind the waist. Hands on hips is the default hand position in Central Ukrainian dances. Fists on hips is typical of Western Ukrainian regions.

First Position -Both hands and arms are positioned in front of the body, level with the waist.

  • Open variation - Arms are straight and extended directly in front of the body, forming a slight angle. Hands are level with the waist. Palms are turned up, and elbows are turned under. Hands should be open and flat, with fingers held tightly together. This is the most commonly used form of first position in Ukrainian dancing. It is usually used by girls.
  • Closed variation - This variation is similar to first position in ballet. Arms are rounded (elbows slightly bent), and elbows are turned outward from the body. Hands are turned so that the palms face the body. Fingers should come close to meeting. Dancers may want to visualize holding a large sack of potatoes in their arms.

Second Position - Arms are extended to the sides of the body, slightly below shoulder level.

  • Open variation - Arms are straight and extended outwards to the sides. Hands should be open and flat, with fingers held tightly together. Palms are usually turned up. This is the most commonly used form of second position in Ukrainian dancing.
  • Closed variation - This variation is similar to second position in ballet. Arms are rounded (elbows bent), and elbows are turned towards the back. Hands are turned so that the palms face forward.

Second Position with arms at waist - Arms are extended to the sides of the body, at waist level. Arms are straight and palms face upwards. This position is usually used by boys.

Third Position - One arm is extended forward in front of the body, while the other arm is extended to the side. Both arms are held level with the chest, or slightly below shoulder level. The arms should be placed in reverse of the feet, so that, if the right foot is in front of the left, the left arm is extended in front and the right arm is extended to the side.

  • Open variation - The forward arm (left arm) is straight and extended directly in front of the body. The other arm (right arm) is straight and extended to the side, slightly below shoulder level. Palms are turned up. This position is seldom seen in Ukrainian dance.
  • Closed variation - This variation is similar to third position in ballet. Arms are rounded (elbows bent) and palms are turned inward.

Third Position with palms up - One arm is extended forward in front of the body, while the other arm is extended to the side. Both arms are held level with the chest, or slightly below shoulder level. Both arms are slightly bent, with the elbows pointing downward. Palms are raised, and turned away from the face. The dancer should appear as though shying away from someone or pushing away from something. This position is used only by girls.

Fourth Position - One arm is raised over the head, while the other arm is extended to the side. In Ukrainian dance, the arm that is raised is usually on the same side as the supporting leg. The arm that is extended to the side is on the same side as the working leg.

  • Open variation - One arm is straight and extended upwards towards the ceiling, at an angle slightly more than 90 degrees. Palm is turned in. The other arm is straight and extended to the side, slightly below shoulder level. Palm is turned up.
  • Closed variation - This variation is similar to fourth position in ballet. Arms are rounded (elbows bent). The palm of the raised arm is turned inward, while the palm of the other arm is turned forward. In ballet, the raised arm is usually on the same side as the forward foot.

Fourth Position with hand in front - One arm is raised over the head, while the other arm is extended forward, as in first position. The raised arm is straight and extended upwards towards the ceiling, at an angle slightly more than 90 degrees, and the palm is turned in. The forward arm is straight and extended forward at chest level with the palm turned up. The arm that is raised is usually on the opposite side as the supporting leg.

Fourth Position with hand on hip - One arm is raised over the head, while the hand of the other arm is placed on the waist (see "hands on hips" above). The raised arm is straight and extended upwards towards the ceiling, at an angle slightly more than 90 degrees, and the palm is turned in. The arm that is raised is usually on the same side as the supporting leg.

Fifth Position - Both arms are raised above the head.

  • Open variation - Both arms are straight and extended upwards towards the ceiling, at a slight angle. Palms are turned in.
  • Closed variation - This variation is similar to fifth position in ballet. Arms are rounded (elbows bent). Palms are turned inward and fingers should be almost touching above the head.

Arms crossed - Arms are crossed in front of the chest. They may either be held up and away from the body, or rest against the chest.

Hands on beads - One or both hands is placed over the dancer's necklace. Hands should be flat. Elbows should be held away from the body and pushed slightly upward. This position is used only by girls.

  • If only one hand is being placed on the necklace, the other hand is usually place on the waist (see "hands on hips" above). Usually the hand placed on the necklace is on the same side as the working leg, while the hand placed on the waist is usually on the same side as the supporting leg.

Chin on hand - The left arm (same side as supporting leg) is bent and hand is placed to support the head, either with the chin resting on the back of the fingers, with the chin resting in the palm of the hand, or with the hand closed and one finger extended up against the cheek. The right arm (same side as working leg) is bent and placed so that the back of the hand supports the elbow of the other arm. The positions of the arms may be reversed if the right leg is the supporing leg and the left leg is the working leg. This position is used only by girls.

Hands on belt - Hands are positioned to hold onto the front of the "poyas" or belt. Elbows are pushed slightly forward. If only one hand is placed on the belt, the other should be placed in a fist in the small of the back. This position is used most often by boys. It may also be used by girls in dances from Hutzulshchyna.

Hands behind back - Hands are placed behind the small of the back, with one hand holding the other hand. Alternatively one hand could hold the wrist of the other arm. The hand of the second arm should be placed in a fist.

Hands behind head - One or both arms are raised with the elbows bent. Hands are placed behind the dancer's head, at the base of the head (where it meets the neck). Elbows should be held out, away from the head. This position is most often used by boys. It is seldom used by girls.

  • If only one hand is placed behind the dancer's head, the other hand should be placed on the waist (see "hands on hips: above).

Hands hooked on vest - There are two common variations of this position. In the first variation, the dancer hooks his or her thumbs into the armholes of his/her vest. In the second varation, the dancer uses the index finger of each hand to grab onto the inside of the lapel of the vest, usually just above the ties that close the vest. In both variations, elbows are held away from the body, at shoulder height or just below shoulder height. This position is used most often in dances from Hutzulshchyna, although the first variation is also found in dances from Bukovynia. If the dancers are not wearing a vest, they can tuck their thumbs into their armpits.

Arm Positions - Couples and Groups[edit]

Hands crossed in front - couple - Two dancers stand next to one another, both facing the same direction. The dancers join right hands, holding hands in front of the person to the right. Then the dancers hold on to each other's left hand, holding hands in front of the person to the left. The left arm is crossed over the right arm.

Hands crossed in front - three or more - Three or more dancers stand in a line, all facing the same direction. With the right hand, each dancer holds on to the left hand of the person two over to the right. With the left hand, each dancer holds on to the right hand of the person two over to the left. Left arms are crossed in front of right arms.

Hands crossed in front - turning - Two dancers stand facing one another. Each dancer holds her arms out in front of her and crosses the right wrist over the left wrist. The dancers then join hands, joining right hand to right hand and left hand to left hand. The dancers perform dorizhka or kolomyikovi podskok (hops) to the right while leaning away from one another. This position is usually performed by two girls.

Holubchyks - clockwise - Two dancers stand slightly to the right of one another, facing one another. Each dancer places his or her right arm across the front of the other dancer, and places his/her hand on the other dancer's waist. The left arm is held in fifth position. The two dancers look at one another. This position is typical of Central region dances. The dancers will usually perform bihunets, and turn in a clockwise direction (moving forward).

Holubchyks - counter-clockwise - Two dancers stand slightly to the left of one another, facing one another. Each dancer places his or her left arm across the front of the other dancer, and places his/her hand on the other dancer's waist. The right arm is held in fifth position. The two dancers look at one another. This position is typical of Central region dances. The dancers will usually perform bihunets, and turn in a counter-clockwise direction (moving forward).


Movements[edit]

Grand Plié - The dancer bends his or her knees and decends towards the floor. If performed in any foot position except second position, the dancer lifts the heels off the floor. The calves and thighs should not touch. In second position, the dancer decends as far as possible without lifting the heels from the floor. Back should remain straight throughout the movement.

Demi-Plié - The dancer bends his or her knees and decends towards the floor. In any foot position except second position, the dancer decends as far as possible without lifting the heels off of the floor. In second position, the dancer decends half-way to the point where it is not possible to go any further without lifting the heels off of the floor.

Spotting - A dancer "spots" while performing a turn. The basic technique is to turn the head and fix the eyes on a spot on the wall, and then turn the body to meet up with the head. This prevents the dancer from moving in the wrong direction on stage, and prevents dizziness. The following bullets describe how spotting is used with various stationary turns.

  • Quarter turns -- before the first count, the dancer turns the head to the side (looking over the shoulder), and fixes his or her eyes on a spot on the wall. On the count, the dancer turns his or her body to meet up with the head. The dancer has performed one-quarter of a rotation. The dancer repeats this movement three more times to complete one rotation.
  • Half turns -- before the first count, the dancer turns the head towards the back and fixes his or her eyes on a spot on the back wall. On the count, the dancer turns his or her body to meet up with the head. The dancer has performed one-half of a rotation. The dancer repeats this movement one more time to complete one rotation.
  • Full turns -- before the first count, the dancer turns the head towards the back. At the point where the dancer can look no further, the dancer begins to turn both the head and the body (the head leads the body). As the head comes around to the front, the dancer fixes his or her eyes on a spot on the front wall. The dancer then completes the turn on the count, bringing the body in line with the head.