the Ballet
the Technique

Turns and Small Jumps

Next the class will normally progress to a pirouette exercise, or two, or three… This is when the dancers practise turning. There are several kinds of pirouettes. The most common kind, simply called a pirouette, is when the dancer turns with the supporting leg straight, turned out, and on rise or pointe, and the working leg has the foot pointed and placed by the knee on the supporting leg, with the working leg turned out so that the working knee points to the side. These pirouettes can be done turning towards the working leg, (en dehors), or away from the working leg, (en dedans). Ladies also do fouetté turns. A fouetté turn is a normal en dehors pirouette but the working leg is carried to the side before the dancer starts to turn. Fouetté turns can be done continuously, that is what the dancer in the Quicktime movie on this page is doing - fouetté turns in a continuous fashion. Men also do pirouettes with the working leg held out to the side, (in second or à la seconde). These are done both as pirouettes, (a turn on a rise), and as little hopping jumps. All pirouettes can be done with multiple turns, eleven or twelve turns is not uncommon.

After doing pirouettes, the dancers will do small jumps, or petit allegro. The casual observer may not call all of these movements jumps, for example, glissades look more like a step than a jump, however, done correctly they are somewhere in between and therefore qualify as jumps. The petit allegro exercises that the dancers do will quite often consist of sautés, (jumps off of two feet, onto two feet. Sauté means "to jump" in French), changements, which are jumps from two feet to two feet in fifth or third position, changing which foot is in front, sisonnes which are jumps from two feet to one foot, jetés, jumps from one foot to the other, temps levés, jumps from one foot to that same foot, and assemblés, jumps from one foot where the legs "assemble" in the air. All of these jumps except for sautés and temps levés may be "beaten." This means that the legs close in one position in the air, then come apart again before closing in the proper position on the ground.

The final part of jumping I would like to mention sometimes belongs in the next section as well, tours en l'air. Tours are normally only done by men in performance and the standard is to do a "double tour," that is, to turn twice around.

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