If you type in ‘definition adage‘ or ‘definition adagio‘ you will be surprised that it means ‘a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth:“the old adage “out of sight out of mind.”” If you are looking for the meaning within ballet you will need to specify further.
The definition adage in the ballet world describes slow and lyrical dancing. Most schools of ballet use the definition adage, while the Italian musical term ‘adagio’ is also used in some schools, which means ‘at ease, or ‘at leisure.’
A dancers line, extension, balance, turnout and control are all put to the test during adage as she moves with slow, fluid serenity from one position to the next, all while trying to look and feel at ease. Adage is one of the most difficult things to get right in ballet, and it takes years of practice.
Why is Adage Used In Ballet?
Adage work is used in a lot of the ballet productions, and it is emphasized more so in the big romantic ballets like Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet.
Adage is used to tell stories, as well as show off the dancers technical precision. Adage is a slow series of exquisite lines which require great balance, strength, and control from the dancers. What would Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty be without the famous romantic adages. In fact, one of the best-known adages is done in The Sleeping Beauty in the Rose Adagio. Here Princess Aurora has to perform a series of balances with four ardent suitors. This is a beautiful example of the Rose Adagio.
In the ballet Gizelle, Gizelle rises from her grave with a slow and sustained developpe a la seconde and using a series of adage movements communicates the heartbreak and the horror of her fate.
Adage is used to stir emotion out of the audience in most ballets, as ballet is normally at its most expressive during the adagio sections.
In order to make adage look great, it is important for dancers to pay attention to the beauty of their lines and the fluidity of their movements. A lot of the adage is practiced at the barre from a young age – plie, developpe, fondu, attitude, arabesques and penchee to mention a few.
When the dancer moves to the center floor work the steps are connected and they are practiced using different directions. Balance needs to be worked on continuously here.
Here are some things a dancer can do to improve her adage work:
- Make sure you warm up thoroughly before attempting any high lifts with the legs.
- If your arabesques are wobbly practice these on your own at home by stepping into an arabesque line at a comfortable height and holding it for five seconds. Repeat several times on the same leg and if you do these a lot, by the time you reach the end of your room, the back muscles will be much more engaged and your arabesques will be more secure.
- Use your music and express yourself musically while you are dancing, even if you are in ‘pain.’
- Focus on your supporting side, as your adage depends on your supporting leg and hip being as solid as a tree trunk rooted into the ground. Don’t think only of the working leg.
- Work those abdominal muscles and those back muscles, and stretch often. Extension in adage happens better if you have a strong and supple body.
Hope you now understand definition adage, and also that adagio in ballet means exactly the same thing.