Chassé means “to chase” in French. The chassé is a typical traveling movement in which the lead foot is chased by the supporting foot. Chassé can be performed going forward, on a diagonal, or à la seconde (to the side). In this video, chassés from first to second position moving side-to-side are demonstrated, along with a chassé forward from 3rd to 4th position.
Chassés are a very simple and fun step to do, which is why they are typical taught in the first year of ballet classes (in the RAD syllabus, the French term “chassé” is replaced with the English term “gallops”). Chassés are used to quickly cross the stage, as well as performed as an intermediate step between other choreographic elements, including turns, jumps and arabesques. Chassés are always performed in the quick allegro rhythm.
We have been performing chassés in both Ballet Basics and the Intermediate class this semester, and balancing it with tendu par terre en croix (extensions of the leg keeping our pointed toes on the floor), sauté changement (upward jumps with changing feet) in 3rd positions in Basics, arabesques, and some quick footwork sur le cou de pieds (with one foot pointed at the ankle) in the Intermediate class. This versatile step is a great way to work the legs and travel the floor – and it’s just plain fun, too!
Though chasses always reminding me of something… 😉