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Subject: "Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2867
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AnnWilliams

07-07-02, 10:20 PM (GMT)
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"Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
 
   In a very enjoyable piece in today's 'Mail on Sunday' magazine, Sarah Stacey interviews Carlos Acosta. There is no link available, but here's an extract of special interest:

'(Acosta) credits Houston Ballet's artistic director Ben Stevenson with teaching him to jump 'like floating': the reason he's so often compared to Nureyev or Baryshnikov. It's the hang time which is critical, Carlos tells me. He tries to explain, then gives up, leaps to his feet and takes off across the room. 'It's partly an optical illusion. When I toss that leg in the air, you follow it with your eyes. I finish the jump but my upper body is still in the air. So I land but you don't think I'm landing'. He makes a noise like a bellows inflating and then slowly subsiding: 'Phwoooaw...It hurts like hell', he adds prosaically'.

So there you have it. I'll be trying it in front of my bedroom mirror tonight.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last PhilipBadmin 08-07-02 1
  RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 08-07-02 2
     RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Alexandra 08-07-02 3
         RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 09-07-02 11
     RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last trogadmin 08-07-02 4
         RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 08-07-02 5
             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last katharine kanter 09-07-02 6
                 RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 09-07-02 7
                     RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Flight 09-07-02 8
                     RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last katharine kanter 09-07-02 9
                         RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 09-07-02 10
                 RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Annelieseagain 09-07-02 12
                     RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last MAB 09-07-02 13
                         RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last katharine kanter 09-07-02 14
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Flight 09-07-02 15
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last AEHandley 09-07-02 16
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last trogadmin 10-07-02 17
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last katharine kanter 10-07-02 18
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last AnnWilliams 10-07-02 19
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last katharine kanter 10-07-02 20
                             RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last Paul A 10-07-02 21

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PhilipBadmin

08-07-02, 11:01 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 08-07-02 AT 11:07 AM (GMT)

LOL. It hurts like hell when I try it so Carlos and I have something in common at last!


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Annelieseagain

08-07-02, 12:55 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #0
 
   Years ago I read a scientific journal article about illusions in dance, including the hang in the air phenomenon. Very fast cine shutter speeds were used to get at what was happening and one technique used was actually to change the Cof G of the body (trying to think straight here I think you need to do it by compressing the spine or lifting the legs or maybe leaning forwards so that the C of G gets closer to the head in the early part of the jump) so that although the C of G is actually descending, the dancer's head stays still for more than a microsecond.

Actually this isn't much more intelligible than Carlos' explanation is it? Come on I know there are other scientists here!


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Alexandra

08-07-02, 02:51 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #2
 
   Not a scientist, but I have another dancer's story. I interviewed a young Danish ballerina during the Bournonville Week in 2000 (Gudrun Boesen) and her great-aunt was Edel Pedersen, a dancer from the early 20th century who became known as a Bournonville specialist. She said Bournonville had taught the "hover in the air" jump -- it was quite easy You pretend you have a balloon in your stomach and it fills up with air as you jump, she said. (And you jump and land from deep plie')

So try that in your living room

I wonder how far back the "hover jump" goes? (One of Bournonville's pupils, Christian Johansson, was a principal teacher in Russia in the second half of the 19th century. But I doubt Bournonville invented this.)


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Annelieseagain

09-07-02, 04:59 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #3
 
   >She said Bournonville had taught the
>"hover in the air" jump
>-- it was quite easy
> You pretend you
>have a balloon in your
>stomach and it fills up
>with air as you jump,
>she said. (And you
>jump and land from deep
>plie')
>

But pretending doesn't get you anywhere - what is it you're ACTUALLY doing?


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trogadmin

08-07-02, 02:58 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #2
 
   I've been collecting web resources concerning the physiscs of dance. Here is my collection of links, which all work 'cus I've tested them! There is interesting info in the first presentation, and the maths isn't too complicated.

The Physics of Dance (a presentation)
http://web.hep.uiuc.edu/home/g-gollin/dance/dance_physics.html

Physics and the Art of Dance: Understanding Movement (ad for book)
http://www.oup-usa.org/isbn/0195144821.html

Physics and Dance in a Pas de Deux
http://www.aps.org/apsnews/1199/119906.html

Dancing Physics (easy to follow pix)
http://www.wdv.com/Notebook/Dance/index.html

VIDEOTAPE "The Physics of Dance" (ad)
http://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/OAPT/resource/dance.html


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Annelieseagain

08-07-02, 04:34 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #4
 
   Hooray! The presentation on the Physics of Dance confirms wot I said!


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katharine kanter

09-07-02, 02:01 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #5
 
   The question is first, whether anything one does in classical ballet should "hurt like hell", because if it does, it's a trick, not an included technical feature. Nothing in the theatre should "hurt like hell", ever. If opera singers allowed themselves to "hurt like hell", their career would last precisely six weeks. Carlos Acosta may have been pulling that journalist's leg, to coin a phrase, and as he is known to be something of a wag...

From personal experience, before having my wings clipped, and being overall, GROUNDED, I would tend to agree with Alexandra's report from Gudrun Bojesen above. The feeling I had, when I could still jump, was that of "riding the air", over an invisible, giant balloon .

First, the deep plié, which hardly anyone does anymore (perhaps because they think it will give thick thighs, or clog up the speed, or whatever ?), which has to do not only with the plié, but how you take the floor. And before you can soar above the floor, you have got to have firm floor contact. Balanchine, are you listening ?

A perfect example of this is Jean Babilée, who did things one would have thought no human could actually do. He was BEYOND elevation. But we are so busy wondering how he ever got up there, that we forget to look at Babilée's FEET before he leaves the ground. It is most instructive. Completely pulled up, like a coiled spring.

Or Markova's feet, same thing. Her elevation was extraordinary, so one tends to look at the height, at the speed, but take a glance at her FEET !

Second, and this I believe was the aspect Gudrun's great-aunt pointed to, is the "balloon", the breath. Perhaps one might make a play on words, and say "ballon" also means "balloon" ! If you were a Bournonville dancer in the old days, when they could still do it, and you danced with real épaulement, you had developed what opera singers call "support", i.e. you had a powerful torso, with the diaphragm and abdomen strongly muscled holding the edifice up, and keeping the thrust off the legs. So when you took off, and did your "balloon" thing, there was the space for that breath, and you could support it. Singers incidentally, will explain that if one lacks support, the voice cannot give that impression of "floating", which is exactly what we have been talking about here. Strength is lightness.

Babilée had terrific support, in fact, his torso looked rather more like an opera singer's.

Natalia Makarova has been asked about this, and she pointed to the "balloon" breath, as the critical feature.

And I think it also has to do with the music - but that's another problem !


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Annelieseagain

09-07-02, 03:14 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #6
 
   I was certainly taught, only just over 20 yrs ago, to use the lungs and diaphragm for a good soubresaut.

But Katherine, you haven't once mentioned physics. None of the techniques you describe will permit you to hang in the air. And what do you mean when you talk about Babilee's feet being pulled up like a coiled spring before he leaves the ground? You're giving me very conflicting metaphors there and I can't imagine what you mean at all, just can't picture it.

Incidentally, singers talk a lot of rubbish that makes no physiological sense when they talk about what they do; they use metaphor and poetry. You need to talk to a real expert to find out what they're really describing and phrases like "strength is lightness" don't help to get to the bottom of the issue. What is really happening here?

Sorry to be so negative, but this thread was quite informative and this sort of wishy washy talk doesn't help at all.


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Flight

09-07-02, 04:05 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #7
 
   I am well-known for being rubbish at physics (just got my report today...) but I know that if you point your feet really hard you get further off the ground.


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katharine kanter

09-07-02, 04:12 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #7
 
   LAST EDITED ON 09-07-02 AT 04:21 PM (GMT)

Sorry to offend.

The images that appear to have offended, is an attempt to find the right metaphor, to get across an idea that may not be in the mood, today, for being put into words !

Although I suspect that most people who have danced will know what I was referring to, and as for "support", it is not a vague concept. One of the reasons for the incredible, and justified, popularity of Pilates technique among classical dancers today, is that it is designed to put back what has gone lost over the last fifty years, namely support.

No-one can actually "hang" in the air. Unless one is ACTUALLY a balloon. It is, essentially, an optical illusion, "helped along" EITHER by the sort of trick that Carlos Acosta describes, OR by developing real ballon.

The trajectory or path, is what gives a jump its aerial quality. People who know how to breathe as described by Alexandra above, will somehow relax, like a swimmer, at the height of the trajectory, which is what makes one look as though one is floating. Whereas, to cite only the commonest flaw, a shallow plié will automatically yield a trajectory without the "arc", or "balloon", and the dancer will be too tense to "float".

As for Babilee's feet: certain people are able to marshall the entire physical structure, at will, to a degree of "relaxed alertness" that remains mysterious even to other, highly-skilled professionals. If you watch Babilee's feet when he is dancing, they appear to be almost an extension of the brain, taking "direct orders", as it were, from the mind. His feet never roll or sickle, even slightly, they are never tense, never scrunched...

Does that help ?


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Annelieseagain

09-07-02, 04:58 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #9
 
   I have danced, and "support" means many many things. I don't know which of the many you are referring to.

I had never heard of Babilee, never mind seen him. So what exactly did his feet do before jumping? You used some strange images that seemed contradictory, can you describe in simple adjectives what he did?

What do you mean by real ballon? There is only one way to "hang in the air" and that is by optical illusion (breathing in will allow a bit but not much!).

The trajectory of a jump is dependent upon the direction of the initial impulse. The size of the impulse is dependent upon the depth of the plie.

But back to those feet - please, what WERE you trying to describe? I can imagine nothing other than going through the foot and there isn't anything very special about that!


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Annelieseagain

09-07-02, 05:01 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #6
 
   >The question is first, whether anything
>one does in classical ballet
>should "hurt like hell", because
>if it does, it's a
>trick, not an included technical
>feature.

But all ballet is a trick. Ballet ISN'T natural and it DOES hurt!


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MAB

09-07-02, 05:19 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #12
 
   One of my favourite dance quotes was from Paul Taylor when he said, "No one ever said that dance wouldn't hurt". Fonteyn also said something along the lines of "If people knew how painful it is to dance, only those that enjoy bullfighting would watch".

Jean Babilee was a French dancer with a fabulous reputation, those that saw him always raved about him and he was especially renowned for his elevation, he was active in the '40's and '50's, so before my time. He created the role of the young man in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.


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katharine kanter

09-07-02, 06:18 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #13
 
   There are a number of professors today who are trying to evolve new methods of teaching, integrating the most recent knowledge from the fields of anatomy and kinesiology, and whose approach is, in point of fact, that we must get away from this masochistic approach, according to which, pain is "normal".

I've said this elsewhere, but there's a world of a difference between a paroxysm of effort, which classical dance IS, perhaps in a manner more sustained than any other art form, and the pain, whether keen, or dull and throbbing, that comes from doing things that your body is SCREAMING that it does not want to do. That type of pain almost always has its origin, either in anti-anatomical early training, or, more often, in what I would consider to be totally unacceptable demands put by certain choreographers.

(For people who are interested, a film came out on Babilée about two years ago, by Dominique Delouche I believe. There is also footage of his dancing, if I recall aright, in the recent film on Erik Bruhn.)

Be that as it may, I gather that Anneliese was actually hoping that people with a professional background in physics and kinesiology would contribute to this discussion, so I think I should pull a curtesy, and vanish into the wings.


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Flight

09-07-02, 08:20 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #14
 
   If we want ballet to stop hurting then surely we must abolish the point shoe? And try doing a simple saute over and over again - that hurts but it doesn't damage you, it's simply lactic acid in your muscles. We'd have to stop holding our arms still in fifth position above our heads for too long - no more corps de ballet. No more long combinations of demi-point work, either - calf muscles don't half ache after pas de bourees and retire passes, especially the next day. And no more Dance of the Little Swans - those pas de chats really make your legs ache.


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AEHandley

09-07-02, 08:27 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #14
 
   >>Be that as it may, I
>gather that Anneliese was actually
>hoping that people with a
>professional background in physics and
>kinesiology would contribute to this
>discussion, so I think I
>should pull a curtesy, and
>vanish into the wings.
>
>
um - are you SURE you mean kinesiology? (having visited a kinesiologist a few times I have some doubts...)

OK I take your point about different types of pain, and will look out for Babilee in future!


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trogadmin

10-07-02, 09:40 AM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #16
 
   >um - are you SURE you mean kinesiology? (having visited
>a kinesiologist a few times I have some doubts...)

Indeed Katharine does; kinesiology is the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement. Rudolf Laban was just one of many famous kinesiologists. Many who claim to be kinesiologists are generally really masseurs or if you are lucky chiropractors, with an alternative title. Some of the subjects studied in a kineisology foundation certificate (as offered by the Kineisology Foundation ) are "Quality of Touch", "Meridian Stroking" and "Use of 5 hand modes". There is not much indication of movement there.

On their website the Kineisology Foundation describe "Creative Kineisology" - developed by an acupuncturist (who is also described as an "expert in geophysical energies") and a pyschotherapist; "Educational Kineisology" - developed by an educationalist; "Health Kineisology" - developed by a physiological psychologist and "Life Care" - developed by a "brain scientist". All this has nothing to do with the study of movement. Geophysics is a branch of earth science dealing with the physical processes and phenomena occurring especially in the earth and in its vicinity. What this even has to do with your body is unclear.

>the deep plié, which hardly anyone does anymore (perhaps
>because they think it will give thick thighs, or clog up the >speed, or whatever ?)

One of the points made in Charles Atlas' "A Lifetime of Dance" (the splendid documentary on Merce Cunningham) is that his phenomenal elevation was due to his plié, which was deeper than anyones (this was during his days with Martha Graham). Cunningham never had thick thighs (well not in any photograph that I have seen of him). Tom Platz has thick thighs (and is still very flexible).

>Strength is lightness.

Absolutely! If you think up, that is the golden thread coming out of the top of your head, you are definitely lighter on your feet.


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katharine kanter

10-07-02, 02:05 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #16
 
   LAST EDITED ON 10-07-02 AT 02:06 PM (GMT)

In reply to Flight (nomen est omen !) -

when Bournonville said that "dance is above all, an expression of JOY", he did not mean "even, and especially, when the dancer is in PAIN."

In the video-game, push-button society we live in, we are constantly being told that there is no point in making an effort. Sweating over something is bad. Pushing yourself to do something you don't really feel like doing, though you know you should - even the ironing, my American friends tell me no-one over there irons any more - is bad. "No hassle".

Well, ballet is one big hassle. It's a sweat, like ironing. One often does not feel like doing it, especially at 10.15 in the morning. Like any form of intensive physical activity, it necessarily involves going beyond what ordinary people would think is possible.

That does NOT, however, mean, actual physical SUFFERING. There are places for that in every city and town, with whips, dog collars and the lot. The reason so many dancers today are in real, physical pain, and suffer terrible injuries unheard of forty years ago, is that most choreography today were better called contortionism, or acrobatics. It has nothing to do with dance quality, or music.

"Aches and pains", on the one hand, and searing, or dull, throbbing pain, on the other, are two states that do not compare.

As for contemporary teaching methods, with the exaggerated turnout, rotation, and the hyper-extensions, these lay the groundwork for crippling pain by the time the dancer reaches age 25 or so.

There is suffering in doing anything that involves greatness, such as dancing a major role. Suffering, extreme concentration, where one forces the mind to live through something that normal people would shrink from. Again, a form of effort that one is not going to learn from video-games. But it is NOT masochism.

Which brings us back to the question of the floating jump. Dancing is supposed to be joy, it is supposed to be flying through the airs. When Bournonville was a very old man, he wrote that at night, he began to dream that he was back at the Paris Opera in 1821, JUMPING in the class of professor Vestris. I have a similar dream myself: I jump, and just stay up there.

The grand jeté made fashionable by Sylvie Guillem, opened out way beyond 180 degrees, is not an expression of joy. Like everything screamingly anti-physiological, all it expresses is hysteria.

By kinesiologist, I meant people who have made it their profession to study the science of movement. If any of you are out there listening now, perhaps you would like to put us squarely back on the track ?



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AnnWilliams

10-07-02, 02:57 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #18
 
   Katharine, you have said all this MANY times before, and I think we have all now got the message: in your view (and you may be right) choreographers today make movements for dancers which are not only difficult and painful to do, but which may also cause lasting physical damage. I think that about sums up your position, and really there is no need for you to state it again. Do you not think, though, that young dancers now training for the profession (and their parents) are aware of this? In the end, it is their choice. Dancers are not dumb animals, forced like those poor horses in the Grand National to jump over ever higher and more terrifying hurdles because they are unable to say 'I cannot do this. I am frightened of it'. Dancers, fortunately have brains, tongues and free wills. Give them some credit for it.


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katharine kanter

10-07-02, 03:14 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #19
 
   Having a dull afternoon at work, and keeping myself out of trouble by boring stiff everyone on ballet.co, manifestly.

That being said, were the only visitors to the ballet.co postings page to be the ten main contributors to its Magazine, then your point, viz, that I have said these things before, and have therefore said them for all time, is most definitely well taken.

On the other hand, if fresh faces constantly turn up and put questions - which I hope to be the case - then restating a case cannot be a waste of time !


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Paul A

10-07-02, 04:15 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Secret of that Russian 'hovering' jump revealed at last"
In response to message #20
 
   Dull afternoon here too!

Katharine do please continue to post.

We all have our views that we restate from time to time. The joy of this board that being challenged on those views makes us reassess our beliefs.


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