Intermediate Ballet CANCELLED for 10/26/2016!

Hello Spartan dancers!

Some bad news, I’m afraid – I managed to pull a series of muscles in my lower back this weekend. I’ve been to the doctor and am on the mend, but not allowed to dance for at least a week while things heal. As such, the Intermediate Ballet class for this evening at IM Circle has been cancelled.  😦

Ballet Basics will continue this Friday with Scott (12:30 PM at IM East).

I hope to be back on my toes by next week, and to see everyone again in Intermediate next Wednesday! My sincere apologies for this inconvenience.

All best,

Kitty

Technique Spotlight: Piqué

Piqué in French means “to prick, or be stung.” A piqué movement in ballet consists of the dancer lifting the toes of the working foot/leg to “prick” the floor. We have engaged the piqué in two movements so far – at the barre in combination with the dégagé (disengaged) tendu in both classes, as in a turn in the Intermediate class.

The piqué turn is a traveling turn, and are usually performed in multiples (such as three turns in succession). In a piqué turn, the dancer lifts his/her leg into a strong passé and turns either on the demi pointe (if in slippers) or full pointe (if in toe shoes). Piqué turns are found in both the adage and allégro rhythms in ballet, and have also been adopted into other forms of dance, such as jazz.

Arms in the piqué turn typically move from second position to first position as the turn is performed – this helps both with momentum (so that that full revolution of the turn is completed), as well as keep the upper body upright (so that the dancer doesn’t fall forward or to the side).

Because piqué turns travel, it is very important to spot during the turn so that the dancer doesn’t become dizzy or disoriented. This video from BalletHub shows a dancer en pointe doing numerous piqué turns, and gives some great tricks for keeping the upright alignment in the turn. One aspect of the piqué turn that may differ dependent on style or school is the format for the passé – whether or not the toe is held in front of the knee (en dehors) or behind it (retiré/en dedans). Both are correct and have their advantages, but in our classes we are performing piqué turns en dehors (with the toe tucked in front of the knee).

do-ballet-piques-step-8

I find that this helps novice dancers to maintain an upright posture during revolution even if they do not have strong turn-out, whereas the turns performed in retire sometimes lead to the passé leg sliding out of position (and thereby wrecking the dancer’s balance) during rotation. This very detailed blog post from Dance Advantage discusses the different forms of piqué and shows some great examples of ways that piqué (both in barre exercises and in a turn) is utilized.

Piqué takes a lot of practice to master – the operation of lifting and controlling the toe as it pricks the floor is something that only repetition and exercise can secure. But it is a critical and useful movement in classical ballet, and one that every dancer should aspire to achieve.

Technique Spotlight: Pas de Bourrée

Whenever you hear the phrase “pas de…” you know you’re talking about a step. There are lots of different steps in ballet: some are named for animals that they imitate, such as the pas de chat (cat’s step) or pas de cheval (horse-like step), and some are named instead for the place in which they originated (such as the pas de Basque, which started off as a step from a courtly Spanish dance). This is the case with one of ballet’s most common and important traveling steps: the pas de Bourrée.

The pas de Bourrée is traditionally a quick traveling step, most often performed in the allégro rhythm. It evolved from a common three-step motion performed in French courtly dance. Pas de bourrée begins with extension of the first leg while demi-plié, closing the first leg to the second as both transition to relevé, extending the second leg to an open position while relevé, and closing the first leg to the second in demi-plié. This video from Maegin Woodin shows a good example in slow motion of how to do a typical pas de Bourrée. This step is so useful that it has also been adopted and adapted by other forms of dance, and is now commonplace in jazz and musical theatre as well as classical ballet.

pas-de-bourree

As shown in this video from the Royal Ballet of London in the UK, there are many different forms of this step, which is a core movement for crossing the stage. There is a piqué pas de Bourrée, in which the toes are picked up and prick the floor (piqué) during each step of the movement. There is also the pas de Bourrée couru or “running Bourrée,” in which the dancer travels on his or her toes in a crossed position (usually 5th position). One can also perform a pas de Bourrée en tournant by using the three-step motion to turn the dancer’s body (a very common application). As seen in the video, one can perform an entire piece that is nothing but different variations of the pas de Bourrée!

Pas de Bourrée is performed both to travel across the stage as well as an in-between step performed between turns, arabesques, and jumps. It is found is every piece of balletic choreography – I have yet to see a performance, even a short one, without a pas de Bourrée.

We’ll be introducing the pas de Bourrée in Ballet Basics this week, and reviewing it in Intermediate on Wednesday. Getting the pas de Bourrée right takes some practice, but by starting off slow and working up to more quickly paced steps, every dancer of every skills level can master this fundamental technique of classical ballet.