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Where did the word "entrechat" come from?


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#1 kbarber

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 05:36 AM

Does it mean "between the cats" and if so...
WHY????
Find out in the latest post in my popular series of ballet etymologies: http://toursenlair.b...-entrechat.html

#2 Birdsall

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 08:58 AM

Thanks for posting this! I love entrechats, and so learning the etymology is interesting.

#3 bart

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 03:21 PM

Fascinating and completely unexpected, as usual, kbarber. Thank you.

With Bolle, I counted thirty five entrechats without noticeable loss of height, speed, or accuracy, though possibly a bit short on human pathos. Wow.

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 03:34 PM

Textbook perfection @ 0:25. The one and only Mr. Soloviev. Posted Image




#5 Amy Reusch

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:29 PM

I've heard that before, but do we have proof? (I always thought one needed to beat as fast as paw batting between two cats...). I've never seen a cat leap like a pas de chat, but I can imagine them picking them up high to avoid stepping in water.... Perhaps you could do Pas de Chat next?

#6 Bonnette

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:21 PM

The instructor in my dance history class (1977) said that "entrechat" refers to the rapid beating of slippers bearing embroidered cat's head decorations in France. I thought at the time that this sounded like a most unlikely explanation, but I've always wondered...I guess by the same logic, "pas de chat" could mean "only one cat" contacting the knee. Posted Image Posted Image

#7 kbarber

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 04:19 AM

I've heard that before, but do we have proof? (I always though one needed to beat as fast as paw batting between two cats...). I've never seen a cat leap like a pas de chat, but I can imagine them picking them up high to avoid stepping in water.... Perhaps you could do Pas de Chat next?

That is what the respectable etymological dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary and the Larousse etymologique and the grandaddy of all French etymological dictionaries, The Franzosiches Etymologisches Worterbuch say. The earliest attestation in French is from 1609, and no phonological relation to cats is possible. But I like your description of cats batting at one another! The slippers with the embroidered cat's heads, now that's fanciful! Hey whatever works for the students.. Actually I have watched my cat jumping and they do kind of bend their legs as in a pas de chat.

#8 Amy Reusch

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:18 AM

That is the kind of proof I was looking for, thank you.... Sometimes we get things passed own through the generations in class that had their start in some teacher's imagination....

#9 Bonnette

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:19 AM

Thank you from me, too, kbarber! Now I can get to work on erasing that image of embroidered cats' heads battering one another. Posted Image

#10 kbarber

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:47 AM

That is the kind of proof I was looking for, thank you.... Sometimes we get things passed own through the generations in class that had their start in some teacher's imagination....

Hi Amy, I was a dictionary editor for 20 years, so when I talk about words, these are the sources I rely on, though I may not mention it.


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