December 21st, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
Like any other trick, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to execute a clean, centered and flexible tilt. In today’s blog, you’ll hear from myself and fellow StarQuest judge, Terri-Sue Dorn, on different ways to approach, execute and perfect your tilt.
Tilts Are Advanced!
To start, know that tilts are an advanced skill. While you may be “advanced” at your studio, that doesn’t always mean that you are an advanced dancer. You should attempt tilts with caution and trust your teacher if he/she says that you’re not ready. It’s important to have a good ballet foundation with an understanding of how to use your turnout. You’ll want to perfect your flexibility as well. Make sure you have an excellent straddle and center split. I recommend the “wall stretch”. (This stretch is done on your back, with your legs open to second position and perpendicularly placing the back of your legs against the wall.)
A Strong Core
Tilts aren’t all about flexibility. You’ll also want to work on your core, hamstring and hip strength. For your core, make sure that you can balance on one leg and have strong abdominals to support your torso. I suggest a lot of planks and static core exercises. For your hamstring and hip strength, you’ll want to practice developés and envelopés as much as you can. I would suggest developés/envelopés in devant and al la seconde with your hip down. This will increase the strength of the hip faster and will allow your tilt to come easier. (It’s also classically correct!)
Once you have perfected your flexibility and strength you’ll be ready to start attempting tilts. Think of keeping your rotation constantly working. From first (or fifth) position draw up to a retiré with your arms in first position. As you move into an attitude position, tilt your hips by ninety degrees and extend your arms into second position. (There are many variations and styles of tilts therefore, your arms can vary from teacher to teacher.) As you start your developé, imagine making your legs as lengthened as possible. I like to think of my standing leg too. I think of energy shooting through the floor and anchoring me into the ground.
A Note From Terry-Sue
If that imagery doesn’t work for you, Terry-Sue Dorn, owner and Artistic Director of Seraphim Dance Academy in Aurora, CO, explains it like this, “I always tell my dancers to stack their hips. They should have one on top of the other and should look like and “H” in the mirror, with their arms matching their legs.” She also suggests drawing an imaginary line from your top toes, through the tip of your head, to your bottom toes. “The second position you sit in during stretch[ing], with a long spine, should be the same image as if you turn[ed] it sideways and stood on your supporting leg” Dorn suggests.
Did you get it? As I mentioned before, tilts are an advanced skill. It’s going to take a lot of repetitious practice to be able to master your tilt. Keep at it! All difficult skills seem insurmountable at first but, focus on the imagery and pointers that work for you. Practice makes perfect. You can do it!
Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.