Wednesday, 3 December 2014
MOVEMENT A piece written by Barbara Gregory who trained with Nicolai and Nadine Nicolaeva Legat, and devoted her life to the Legat system. Dance is movement and Legat is movement. During the latter part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Imperial Theatre of St. Petersburg attracted superb dancers from Europe and Scandinavia. The Russians were open and happy to accept any influences that would improve their own techniques and ultimately the ‘school’. Nicolai was in his prime at this time and with his many talents- his ear for music, his eye for lone and his physical ability for movement [not to mention his sense of humour] he was ready to absorb all. The turn of the century witnessed the full flowering of the Imperial Ballet of the Marinsky in St. Petersburg with it’s galaxy of superlative dancers, many of whom later brought their art to the West. This school was based on the Johansson-Legat Tradition. Here were foundations that could not be rocked they were there only to be built on and added to , so that today there is non ‘new’ dance style that does not benefit by those foundations. Legat’s theory was to create the impression of movement while standing still, by elongating the spine and keeping the weight of the body in a slightly forward position, this gives life and the effect of moving. He favoured the diagonal- in ballet terms- croise and efface rather than the flat en face position. The centre of the body is kept in position by aligning the shoulders- thus the central body appears to be square, a base from which the limbs can be free to move in any direction. The elegance of the line is achieved by the head and arm always continuing the line of the body- thus giving the longest line in every move. This line is followed in the legs and hips-with every change of position the whole body or the whole side of the body participates to give the appearance of flow and ease even to quick or strenuous movements. The science of Legat’s class was not repetition but balance of tension and relaxation, each succeeding exercise was given to balance the previous one-gradually building power from little to big or from small to larger movements. No movement was made without a consciousness of quality. Legat was dealing with an art form not gymnastics. Dance must speak from the heart, using the entire body. In his daily classes he taught a combination of movements always in different rhythms and sequences that were not possible without using the mind. The Legat class was and is ever alive and fresh, and is a conversation between teacher and pupil.