-- steps that are more than just "steps"
-- steps that seem to define a ballet character or epitomize a role.
Here's Macaulay's description of one such signature step, performed by the Nutcracker Prince in Balanchine's version of The Nutcracker:
Seeing this step performed with drama and deliberation, even out of context, as in a studio, many of us would think automatically about the journey of the Nutcracker Prince from child to a kind of magical cavalier. That's a big job for a simple step. But it works.
The step in question is simply a pointing of the turned-out leg and foot to the side (tendu side): it transforms the leg by charging it with energy in a straight line from hop to toe.
First Drosselmeyer's little nephew does it, during the formal Grossvater Tanz, ... as does his partner Marie. Then, after battling the mice, the Nutcrcker does it, holding one of the slain Mouse King's seven crowns aloft. Finally the Little Prince does it in the moment when his Nutcracker outer husk slips off him.
[These characters]are all one and the same boy. But that tendu is an image of another transformation; it turns him from a pedestrian mortal into a figure imbued with angelic potential.
What about other roles ... in other ballets? Are there other recurring signature "steps" -- or brief combinations of steps -- that carry comparable importance and which become indissolubly identified with that particular role?
Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this.