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Favorite Ballet Step

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Of course it's more than just the steps, but is thier one ballet step in particular (especially if done well) that always manages to bring a smile to your face or makes you lean forward in your seat in anticipation?

I love hops on pointe. From Giselle's traveling hops in her first act variation to Balanchine's Ballo Della Regina with those three hops as the ballerina pivots four times. I don't know the technical term, but to me they are the Mount Olympus of hops on pointe and they make my heart go pitter patter! :)

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I confess to a soft spot for all forms of vertical or near-vertical jumping, maybe because those are the first jumps one learns in class and they are, so far, the only ones I can actually do without embarrassment. With changement, of course. Entrechats are best.

I also like the hops on pointe in Giselle -- and, indeed, anything with lots of ballon. Big travelling jumps are thrilling, but don't "bring a smile" to my face, as you say.

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Voice 1: It's all about context.

Voice 2: It depends who's doing it. For example, I'm not crazy about beats, but Erik Bruhn's . . . :angry2:

Voice 3: Oh, shut up you two! You know it's the big, traveling leaps. And especially the Plisetskaya leap (which is really a sissone, isn't it?).

Editing at the insistence of Voice 4:.

So, reverse is mashed potatoes? Yes, a renverse that lingers off-balance is the most glorious movement that can be executed by anyone who isn't a cat.

Edited by carbro
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I find ABT's dictionary site -- with an index, clear descriptions, cross-referencing, and lovely video clips that can be manipulated on line -- really helpful in recalling and visualising these steps.

Address is:


Edited by bart
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I love assemble.

i first noticed this when I saw hte Hungarian State Folk Ballet dance in Zellerbach Hall about 10 years ago -- the women were doing the most delightful steps I'd ever seen, jumping up in little red heeled slippers with NO SLINGBACKS and putting their legs together, knees to feet, and then I realized they were assembles in parallel and just the most beautiful thing.

And then I realized I loved classical assemble even better -- like scissors closing, or a sword hanging in the air. i just love it.

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It's not quite a step, but I love when a women is in sous sou, about to do a supported develope, and she wraps her foot in preparation -- is this considered sur le coup de pied? Not every dancer though. For me the exemplar was Stephanie Saland, as shown in the Divertimento No. 15 Dance in America performance during her adagio. She taught some adult classes at the PNB school, and even though she wore two+-inch wedgies to class, she still performed it (from regular fifth) with gorgeous turnout and even, in unbending shoes, managed to appear to have the beautifully articulated feet she had while dancing.

When a dancer makes that detail a gem, there's something wonderful about the instant of anticipation for the full-flowering move that's about to come.

I also love big juicy tombes into croise fourth, especially as preparation for immediate spring up into en dedan pirouettes.

And, in a specific context, I love the little rondes de jambe Choleric does with the stage full but in total stillness just before the end of Four Temperaments.

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Ok, I'm shallow and go for the cheap thrill.

But I love the complicated lifts, dives and catches.

I find the fish dives thrilling if they are fast. And the other night in Syvia I saw a couple of neat backward catches.

And yes, I respond to one-handed lifts too.


I agree Richard. I love the thrill I get with lifts, dives, and catches. When I get them down perfectly during a performance it makes the rest of the piece even better. ~Laur~ :blush:

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Russian pas de chat is one of my favorite steps to do. If you get it right, you can really fly. I'm having fun with chaine turns lately too. If you get them going really fast, on the music, they're a lot of fun.

Some dancers make simple pirouettes look like a lot of fun. Alexandra Ansanelli pulls some great ones on stage. I don't so much of a thrill out of seeing every guy turn ballet into a spinning contest, but occasionally they really can be thrilling.

Helene--it's funny. I love a developpe with really builds to it's climax, but I find a wrapped foot really disturbing. There's something about a wrapped foot that seems extraneous and fussy to me. It's a stupid thing to get on my nerves, but it does. I like to see the foot go straight up.

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Thanks, Paul, for that description.

I got corrected on coup de pied in class last week. (The first time I heard about the dread term "sickling".) I'll remember your word order next time: HEEL FORWARD, TOE BACK, KNEE TO THE SIDE, LEG ROTATES UP. :unsure::wink:

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Another quick technical note from the Obsessive-Compulsive Ballet Terminology Fairy :rolleyes: --It's "sur le cou de pied." "Cou" = "neck" as opposed to "coup," which is a conjugation of the verb "couper" (to cut). Don't even get me started on confusing "pas coupé" with "cou de pied!" :unsure:

Oh--and the step described as "Russian" pas de chat does not exist, as far as I know, in the Vaganova syllabus. I like carbro's term "pas de chat volé," but it would probably have to be "pas de chat devant volé" because you can do pas de chat derrière too! :wink:

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Bart, the bad thing about sickling is that if you do it, you've put your foot in a very weak postion which WON"T SUPPORT you -- especially in landing from jumps. SO there are millions of exercises to train you NOT TO DO THAT, and also to strengthen the weaker muscles which prevent sickling, cuz sickling is EASY and dangerous -- if you came down on a sickled foot, you'd fall, and a sprain of the ankle would be the least-worst that could happen....

Wrapping is not only beautiful, it is a basic exercise to prevent the development of that bad habit......

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Solid, clean technique always makes me smile...

But two things can always tickle me pink: strong musicality and after the clean execution of pirouettes that goofy grin so many dancers get in the following section.

For the musicality, I love to see someone playing inside the music. The tape of Gelsey Kirkland at Wolftrap doing the 1) Coppelia pas de deux and 2) the echappes in the Don Quixote pas continues to take my breath away. Shakey and unhealthy, she somehow managed to do the variations with such liquid precision. I heard a quote referring to it as porcelain coated steel. I can only imagine what it would look like when she was healthy. The part of Coppelia where she's hmm.. walking en pointe, she steps out (supporting leg en pointe, plie) then closes the formerly working leg coupe and it slides down to the floor and it starts all over? My goodness, I'm at a loss to what this would be called. Anyhow, in this sequence she melts through it, sharp at the beats. There's a final arabesque that barely turns which she holds until the last moment. Finally her hops en pointe with ballonne, I marvel at the beauty and strength.

And those echappes in Don Quixote... I've seen them done at speed before and it always makes me anxious. Her echappes are what I could only dream mine to be one day. What gorgeous, supple pointe work. Anyhow, this was not intended to be a disseration over Ms. Kirkland's performance. But to me, it is the embodiment of the kind of musicality that I so enjoy.

And as far as that goofy grin, it mostly comes at the end of a variation when the last of the pirouettes has just happened and it came off cleanly. As a student who throughout my ballet life has struggled with turns, I feel such great empathy in that time. A moment of triumph when they really stuck that wicked mess of turns. Maybe this is why I love any chance to see Baryshnikov (many videos and a few times live with White Oak). He gets the goofy grin WHILE he's turning, especially towards the last revolutions.

I know these aren't steps... I couldn't think of anything in particular that gets me more than others.

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