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kbarber

Where did the word "bourrée" come from?

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bart   

I just came across something Merrill Ashley wrote about learning, during her first year in the company, how to do the straight-legged bourrees Balanchine requires of the swans Swan Lake.

It was a long, painful learning process, and my toes took a fearful beating. It was maddening to think that if I had been capable of performing the steps properly, flitting across the stage with those tiny rapid-fire steps that defy the quickest eye, my toes would have been spared some of the banging and bruising they received in my version of the step. In a sense, the hard way would have been the easy way.

The older girls in the corps had had plenty of practice with those bourrees, and most of them executed them better than I did. But no one comes by this step easily. There may be natural turners, natural jumpers, and natural balancers, but when it comes to bourrees, there are no naturals. It takes years of practice to get them right.

Merrill Ashley, Dancing for Balanchine.

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