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Step of the week 5

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...mentioned step by audience members? Dancers' most frequently used term is "plié"!

"Fouetté" just means "whipped" and there are a great number of fouetté movements in ballet. This post will simply use it as shorthand for "fouetté rond de jambe en tournant", which is the full name of the step. More about those OTHER fouetté things later!

A fouetté rond de jambe en tournant can be used alone, or in a short or long sequence of repetitions. The most famous brace of these things comes in Act III of Swan Lake in the coda of the grand pas de deux. 32 of 'em. It may also be done partnered.

The step begins with an initial turn of any sort to get some momentum going, then the working leg is extended in the front, while the supporting leg bends. As the working leg is carried to the side (à la seconde) in a half-circle (demi-grand rond de jambe en l'air) and is whipped (fouetté) into a position with the toe touching the knee (retiré) and a turn on pointe or demi-pointe is the consequence. As you can tell, this is a rather complicated step and calls for a lot of coördination. After it gets going, however, as long as the dancer can maintain balance and can keep repeating the relevés, doing a long series is rather easier than it looks. It's a trick, really.

Woops, my link won't connect us. Here's a link to ABT's online dictionary index. Scroll down to "fouetté rond de jambe en tournant" and click. You'll see Ashley Tuttle nail a series of eight.


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The two most common ways to enter a series of fouettés is to start on the pickup notes with a double pirouette, then degagé to quatrieme devant croisé on "and", so that the first fouetté is on the beat. The "up" on the Black Swan fouettés is very easy to hear. The interval goes up, the turn happens. The other way is to enter the pickup notes with a pas de bourrée en tournant, then coupé into the aforesaid degagé and continue as before.

Don't worry, I'll pick this up, I was just taking a breather. :sweating: Watch this Forum tomorrow for step of the week 6!

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I've been taught to do them both ways, and I prefer the Italian method. The problem I have with even including the Russian variety in the term "fouetté rond de jambe en tournant" is that in it, there is no rond de jambe. And the petit battement sur le genou is only apparent, as it is in the Italian variety. Actually, that's just the foot changing from back to front in a passé movement seen while rotating. Some beginners, seeing a series of fouettés for the first time, actually think there's a little double rond de jambe en l'air in there. Possible, but why? The poor dancer has enough to do.

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Actually, the leg does NOT merely extend directly to the side. As I was taught, it goes to somewhere between front and side (sort of écarté), then goes all the way à la seconde before the retiré. So there is a rond de jambe action happening; it's just smaller.

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I do agree with Major Johnson on his summation that this step is not considered the same as the Italian version of a similar but different step.

The problem I have with even including the Russian variety in the term "fouetté rond de jambe en tournant" is that in it, there is no rond de jambe.

In the Vaganova syllabus, fouette does not include any sort of rond de jambe. Instead the working leg having opened side (supporting leg in demi-plie) at 45 degrees from one tour en dehors, arcs back (this is not an arc as in rond de jambe) behind the height of mid calf with the rise to demi-pointe, passes to the front with the rotation of the tour and arcs outward (not as in rond de jambe) to demi-plie on the supporting leg and the working leg opens direction side. It must include the characteristic slice or whip of the working leg back/front or front/back. The arms open directly sideways to second position, with the opening of the working leg and close, downward toward 1st, with the rise to demi-pointe for the actual tour. The body aids in the turn by rising strongly upward with the rise to demi-pointe. The toes must pointe strongly outward like an arrow as it opens to 45 degrees sideways so as to aid in the strength of the working thigh. This will help the working leg not to drop in the demi-plie. The force of the turn is taken from the the working side of the body. Then it must be studied en dedans where in this case the working leg closes front /back and the turn is in the direction into the supporting leg. Fouette, like most turning movements, is at first studied in the centre of the room without turns, then with turns. Once it is understood in the centre en dehors and en dedans, it is then studied at the barre. In the centre in 5th year, the goal is 8 individual turns done consecutively while at the barre no more than two individual turns. At the barre the movement may be combined in exercises for fondu and rond de jambe en l'air. In more advanced levels, the number of tours done in sequence will increase by approximately 8 per year. Of course those who can do more are never stopped in their endevour but they must be well executed. BTW, we teachers know the students will practice this movement continuously without us around. It is considered one of those things you just close your eyes to. Me personally...I thought at age 10-12 I already had my perfect 32, well at least in my living room (coffee table helped to keep me in one place)! :grinning: Also the height of the working leg in fouette will raise to 90 degrees, knee height, in the more advanced levels.

Hans, I believe you are confusing the movement temps releve at 45 and 90 degrees entournant with fouette. They are two very different steps. Temps releve does indeed include an arcing movement from a place inbetween front and side or back and side to the working leg whipping side beginning from the knee down. I am not sure of the history but I do believe that this movement it related to the Italian fouette that Major Johnson is discussing. Then again in Vaganova program there is another step actually called Italian fouette, but let's not confuse the issue any further. For now I think it best not to include the Vaganova movement tour fouette at 45 degrees and 90, with what Major Johnson is discussing. Maybe at another time the step of the week will be the Vaganova tour fouette or temp releve entourant. Italian fouette, ala Vaganova, is so different there generally is no confusion. BTW the fouette Major Johnson is discussing, at least by my teacher in St. Petersburg, was called "oh you mean Maestro Cecchetti's fouette!" and when one says Maestro Cecchetti in Russia with a certain age group there is always a respectful bow with wistful eyes included in the expression! It is very charming to see indeed. :)

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