Hello, Spartan dancers! Many thanks to everyone who braved the chilly, rainy weather (and the wasp in the studio) last night! As promised, below are the instructions to our first full-centre exercise. The exercise combines three distinct elements that we have already studied at the barre: tendu par terre, demi plié, and relevé, as well as the Pas de Bourrée, which we learned one week before. (If you need a review of Pas de Bourrée, please check out the blog post that focuses on this step technique.)
The exercise is a moderate allegro, performed in ¾ time, so it’s a bright, slightly bouncy waltz. The music is from Gladys Celeste’s recording, Music for Ballet Class, Series 8 (track #13 – Drigo allegro). This CD is available on Amazon.com and is very affordable, but unfortunately the recording is quite old, so the tracks themselves are not available online.
The motto for this exercise is the curved arm follows the working foot. For example, the arm that is held in the high position (up above the head) always follows the foot that is active in movement. So since the exercise starts out working the right foot in tendu par terre from P3 (or P5, dancer’s choice) the right arm is thus held over the head, and the left arm is held outward (port de bras position 4 ouvert, or PdB4).
- Standing in P3 or P5 with the right foot in front, hold your arms in PdB4 with your right arm above your head and your left arm extended out from the body.
- Tendu par terre two (2) times to the front.
- On the third (3) tendu par terre, step through in a plié to P4 ouvert (legs will be open), and open your arms to PdB2 (fully extended away from the body). Close the position by stepping flat onto your right foot, extending your left foot behind you in another tendu par terre, and closing it into P3 (or P5). Raise your left arm above your head to transition to PdB4 again on the opposite side. You will now be working the left leg, and supporting your body on your right leg.
- Tendu par terre two (2) times to the back.
- On the third (3) tendu moving backward, step back through plié in P4 (again, ouvert – legs nice and open), and close with your right foot meeting your left in P3 (or P5). Bring the arms to PdB2 (fully extended) as you move through the demi plie, and prepare for your Pas de Bourré
- Pas de Bourrée to the right, stepping on your left foot (which should be tucked behind your right foot in cou-de-pieds), and move your left arm in front of your body (PdB3, again – working arm follows working foot!)
- Pas de Bourrée again to the left, swaying your right arm in front of your body and holding your left arm outwards. Close in P3 (or P5).
- Tendu par terre starting with your left leg à la seconde (out to the side, “as in second position”). Follow with your right, then again with your left, so that you are completing three (3) walking tendus forward. Upon finished the third tendu, bring your arm left arm from second position up above your head. You should now be standing in P3 or P5, with your left leg in front, your left arm above your head, and your right arm extended from your body.
- Here, the exercise repeats itself, but mirrored – you tendu par terre to the front with your left leg, step back and do the same behind you with your right leg, and Pas de Bourrée twice starting off by moving to the left.
- After the second Pas de Bourrée, opens arms to PdB2 (extended away from the body), and do two tendus à la seconde walking backwards.
- On your third step, stop in P3 (or P5), and rise from demi plié into full releve with your hands scooping upwards into high 5th position (PdB5 en haut). Hold it for as long as you can reliably balance, then come back down through demi plié and close with your arms lowered in low 5th position (PdB5 en bas).
And that’s the end! If you feel like you are getting mixed up in your practice, start by focusing on your feet, and then gradually add the arms. Adding the port de bras (arm positions) to the tendu sections at the beginning of each phase of the exercise first, and really mastering those transitions before moving on to arms and feet for your Pas de Bourrée will help you to complete the whole exercise properly in time. It just takes a bit of practice!
If you don’t have the chance to practice at home, or don’t have enough space to work, no worries! We’ll be working on this centre exercise for at least another two weeks, as well as starting our entry into toe lifts and the beginnings of turns.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or stop me after class. I wish you happy, healthy dancing – see you next Tuesday!
~ Kitty 🙂
PS: I’ve been asked about adding video tutorials to the blog – and I’m working out how to do that. (I’m good at ballet – less so with technology…) I hope to have short videos of the exercises available by the end of this semester. Stay tuned!