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Grand Pas de Basque

Guest nicoal

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Guest nicoal

My teacher gave me a new step in class and I'm trying to sort it out in my head how it worked before my next class. She called it a Grand Pas de Basque and it was part of adagio (from the diagonal). I think I mostly got the legs but I was so focused on the legs and what felt to me as odd weight placement, I blanked out where my arms were going through this. I looked in my Classical Ballet Technique (which is a god-send, I have horrendous spatial ability - things like pas de valse en tournant that is so simple perplexed me the first time I tried it) and on the web but didn't find anything. I'll try to be brief but give a description of the step in case it goes by another name.. Right foot front, tendue devant and fondue working leg, arms in first; raise working leg to high attitude devant and bend upper body sideways to the left to make arms parallel to attitude leg (that's the only way I can think to describe the arch she wanted); rond de jambe leg a la second and straighten on the way (and this is where I lost track of the arms) keeping standing leg in fondue; fouette to working leg devant (and I found fouette with leg in fondue REALLY difficult); lower leg and step, then pique attitude derriere. Phew!


My teacher teaches Cecchetti and that is what I've had all but two years of my instruction in (about 7 years) - but she never ceases to introduce steps I've never even seen (probably why she's the teacher and I'm the student :D). Any ideas about the arms? And is this a common step or something not used much anymore or...? Any input or comments appreciated. :)

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This is a very common step (to me anyway). Normally you start off learning pas de basque forwards and backwards, and then go on to do grande pas de basques and character versions of pas de basques. They are a very intergral step.



Normally, in a pas de basque, as your working leg goes out to second, the same arm as the working leg follows it,and as you bring in you othe rleg to close, the other arm travels through first to fifth.


With a grande pas de basque, the arms normally travel from _) to (_ starting with the right leg and finishing with the left.

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Guest nicoal

Thank you for the quick response. I think having the same

teacher for so many years and stopping at only 13 gave me a

kind of narrow knowledge of steps. I took the Cecchetti exams

for 1-3 but moved away from that track at 11 years old and

then got stuck in a too low of a level class for a couple years (resulting in my frustration/boredom and quitting).

I think all of that contributed in missing a lot of steps that

were well within my technique level, but that means more learning

now which I immensely enjoy. :)

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Yes, that is one of the problems with staying within one technique. I originally started with NATD syllabus in the UK, which I followed for 15 years, I then moved into RAD and the girls then were just being introduced to steps that I had been intorduced to at a much lower level, I was quite surprised at that, and then again I realize how little I still do know (which is good as it gives me something to always work at), when I came to the US and took classes in San Francisco, there was a whole load of steps I had never even attempted before, but the good thing was I had the grounding from both NATD and RAD, which both gave me something.

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Ok, even though this is probably a very stupid question - what is a pas de Basque exactly? Is it possibly known by another names, say like in Vaganova technique? ;)


I don't own a "ballet manual" yet and the ABT dictionary didn't have the word.

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Not as far as I know, usually in a beginner class it would be called a pas de basque glisse (sorry for not getting accents, my computer is too stubborn), performed close to the floor or a pas de basque saute, which is jumped.


Just looking in my Gail Grant dictionary there are 14 entrys for pas de basque. So it is pretty well used.


I think you would recognize it if you saw it being performed. You would go 'Ohhhhhh that step!"

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Ghh, I seriously have to get a text book on ballet. Preferably two books.


I'm quite sure it hasn't come up by that name in my classes so far, but it might be that I'd recognice it still, if I saw a picture or someone doing it.

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I'm having troubl following your description -- what is the tempo"/ is this a jump or is it adagio? also I can't tell if you're croise or effacee with that tendu when you start, and I don't understand "fondu working leg" -- fondu is something you do on hte STANDING leg, isn't iT? do you mean the working lg comes in to coupe, and then rises to attitude?


around herei (in hte Bay area), there are lots of pas de basques; they often use a quarter ronde dejambe-- the most common is like a glissade -- you go from croise left to criose right, having made a quarter rond de jambe a terre, glissade, and after taking hte step, push forward to tendu croise back..... (e.g., a common pirouette prep)


hte next most-common is a pique passe that descends into a lunge croise back, and it often follows a failli......

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Guest grace

i'm not sure if this helps anyone much, as there are various steps which different people call ...(something)... de Basque, but basically,


Pas de Basque means step of the Basque (country or people).


thus, saut de Basque means jump of the Basque (country or people)


and Grand Pas de Basque, or Grand Saut de Basque...'grand' means 'big' ...so you can work that out for yourselves.


the thing which usually identifies a Basque ballet STEP is the 'L' shape made by the step, as the floor pattern.


however, this is not USUALLY true of the SAUT de Basque. the COMMON Saut de Basque is a turning jump - but there IS also a (completely different) Saut de Basque, which doesn't turn.


completely confused yet?



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I must confess, I've never seen a saut de basque that didn't turn, or if I did, I thought it was called something else. Now, I've seen plenty of places where PAS de basques turn!


Anyway, if you want to see where old pas de basques go to die, look at the first act of Giselle. Practically everybody but the dead boar does them.

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Guest nicoal



You got me there, I was at work and clearly not paying attention fully while trying to describe this. Correct on the fondu - I meant to say fondu supporting leg (while tendu working leg).


This is adagio and starts out croise just like a pas de basque, you bring the working leg from the tendue straight to attitude then the fouette brings you to efface, then the pique attitude brings you to croise, left foot front (assuming rf front at the outset). When done smoothly now I see how it's a pas de basque that's...well, grand. And I have done other 'basque' steps, but this one was new to me.




I remember doing a saut de basque in petit allegro (one or two classes) that only did 1/4 quarter turn. Of course, I can't for the life of me remember how it went except that my feet got pretty tangled up doing it. When it comes up again, I'll try (though we know I'm not too good at describing ;)) to pass it along.

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That almost sounds like a jeté dessous en tournant by quarter-turns. Something like that is in Giselle Act I, too, except it's dessus. Giselle's Friends do it.

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Guest grace

mel - you are probably right about the SAUT de Basques all turning.


one of the syllabi i examine for, has some wierd things which go under the name of grand pas de Basque or grand Saut de Basque - i can't remember which, right now. this particular exercise really threw off my understanding of what the core element of a Basque-derived movement is. i am inclined to think that, really, it is more likely that this item in the syllabus is somehow a long-perpetuated mistake or misunderstanding, rather than a genuine (but unusual) BASQUE-derived movement.


i can't be bothered raising the issue with anyone else (in the organisation), though... getting to the truth would be more trouble than it is worth. ;)

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Pas de Basque means step of the Basque (country or people).


Grace, I always thought that too... Until someone provided me with a new explanation, and I liked it better :)


They claimed that (although, without a capital letter, so it would be interesting to see if there is truly one in the ballet step of the same name!) a 'basque' being the side/panel of a long coat (in my dictionary, they say 'skirt or tail' but I don't know if that gives you more of a clue really!), to execute the step in the time of Louis XIV, you had to lift and move the 'basque' part of your long coat to go from the beginning to the end of the movement. Hence the pas de basque, being the step where your coat tail had to move... It made sense to me...


A pas de basque is usually done glissé (a terre) or sauté (jumped): you start in right foot front in 5th for eg. You degagé devant, then (optional) draw a 1/2 rond de jambe a terre with this leg, and when your leg is to the side, you either transfer the weight, or jump onto that leg, which 'fondu' as you go along. The left leg is now sideways, so you bring it to first position, then end up in a 4th position onto that foot, and close the other foot in 5th. You will have changed feet.


The term 'grand' means big in general. If it's not in a jump, it means it is simply executed with a bigger amplitude (grand battement, grand plié, grand rond de jambe en l'air....); if it's in a jump, the jump must leave the floor more (grand échappé, grande sissonne, grand jeté...)

So, a grand pas de basque is the same as a normal pas de basque, but bigger, making it possible to raise the leg (in attitude or arabesque) at the beginning and end of the step.


A saut de basque is taught by learning how to do a normal pas de basque...

You start with a lounge forward onto one foot (plie the knee), then swich the other foot in first, then jump onto that leg, and turn at the same time, landing on the opposite foot as to what

you started, with bent knee. It can be done with one turn or several.

Now, a grand saut de basque is the same but with a bigger amplitude in the jump...

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