Exercises Ordinaire

 
 
 
Turkish Prima Ballerina Gulcan Tunccekic,  1960s
 
 
 

First Position (Bras Bas)
 

Pull your spine up
 
to a sky obfuscated
 
by acoustic tile, fluorescent
 
lights, and dip your knees
 
to an earth of scuffed wood.
 
It is a deference you make,
 
a concordance you set
 
between you, and your gravity.
 
Then, rest.
 
 
 

Second Position (et Demi-Seconde)
 

Find your breath.
 
Find a spot in the room
 
to gentle your eye.
 
Find a center in yourself
 
settled by design.
 
Your hand meets air
 
stirred awake by your wrist.
 
Next— observe.
 
 
 

Third Position (Ordinaire)
 

Connect the strike of a match
 
to its book, its maker.
 
Pay attention to your chin
 
to the rest, to the need
 
that emboldens the mind—
 
in a blur of raw words—
 
to bend your bowed mouth,
 
to notch arrow-made language—
 
Stop. Please stop.
 
Hold your shape.
 
Now, rise.
 
 
 

Fourth Position (Croisé)
 

Depend on the grace—
 
(Is there grace?)
 
Depend on the memory—
 
(What say you, memory?)
 
Depend on the voice—
 
(Who speaks?)
 
to hold you still
 
when instinct tenses,
 
where resolve quavers,
 
while you stand
 
between thought
 
and action.
 
And— release.
 
 
 

Fifth Position (en Avant)
 

Curve one arm, reach
 
with your opposite hand
 
for the villagers, clapping;
 
for the prince, leaping;
 
for a chimera that no one
 
can see
 
roaring behind the curtain.
 
 
 

Sixth Position (Optionelle)
 
And return—
 
to the room where a hand
 
pulls your hip into line
 
with your knee— a form made
 
to train your reverence
 
toward monsters, toward graces
 
into a semblance, a modicum,
 
of austere majesty.
 
 
 
The ballet terms in this piece are drawn from three different schools of method/style/thinking about ballet— the Cecchetti Method, the French School, and the Vaganova method. (There are more than three schools of thought on ballet, though.) I studied a slight variation on the Vaganova method for a little while.
 
 
 
PHOTO CREDIT: Turkish Prima Ballerina Gulcan Tunccekic in a rehearsal in the 1960s. Courtesy of Wikimedia, Tunccekic’s son and an unidentified person, who may be family, or may be the photographer— Pamir Kiraner & A. Selen Selçuk.

 
 
 

About Courtenay Bluebird (Bluebird Blvd.)

Courtenay Bluebird is the creator of Bluebird Blvd. and The Bluebird B-Side. She is a published writer, career journalist, and professional photographer who likes books and sweets. She laughs loudly and sincerely both in public and in private.
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5 Comments

  1. Exquisitely rendered, a beautiful piece to read and centre my own self today, I can almost smell that earthy scuffed floor x

    • Anna, you lovely thing, you! Thank you so much. To hear that this poem gave you a way to find your centre gives me a sense of accomplishment. You being nearly able to smell that scuffed-overfloor, puts me over the moon. Sending you good thoughts, good wishes!

  2. I learned the Cecchetti method for about 5 years as a kid. I was never a performer but the awareness of body and posture stayed with me. Lovely post Bluey.

  3. Absolutely lyrical – a ballet of words and images

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