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Tour en l'air

Guest Basilo

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Guest Basilo

This semester I have begun the task of adding a single tour en l'air to my dance vocabulary. I started with 1/4 and then 1/2 turns en l'air and I now have relative confidence in completing the full turn cleanly. I would like to conitnue to improve this and eventually move on to doing doubles. However, I have a few questions:


1.) What is considered to be the proper position of the feet while in the air? I have watched other dancers and noticed that sometimes they change their feet quickly after leaving the ground (feet remain in fifth for the turn) and others seem to turn with their feet in what looks like first position (feet pointed, of course) and then land/close changing feet.


2.) Are tours en l'air ever done without changing feet?


3.) I've also noticed some cheating (myself and others) in the foot position coming down from preperation. I tend to take off from more of a third position than a fifth :P. Is this common?


4.) Lastly, now that I can do a single I am working at turning it :P into a double. How can I keep the single clean like it needs to be? It seems hard to control that new-found momentum that wants to keep me turning.

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2) They are done without changing feet. But that's not standard. And I've concluded that they really work best if you do change feet.

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1) It's best to keep the feet as close together as possible while turning. Whether you change at the beginning of the tour or at the end isn't really important, but trying to turn in first just slows you down.


2) Sure.


3) Yup, 'tain't right, but it's common!


4) Do what Miss Muriel Stuart (The Classic Ballet) says (she got me out of my tour en l'air slump) and, "jump upward with great vigor!" Maybe it was the English accent that did it!;)

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When one talks about the double tour en l'air, what proportion of it should actually be done "en l'air"? Watching some dancers do, there seems to be a litle bit of "borowing" in their preparation and landing: a 1/4 turn preparation before launching the jump, and a 1/4 turn recovery landing the jump : this leaves 1 1/2 actual tour en l'air.



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OH-ho-ho, no! That's a cheat you see very often, too! You are in fifth position, in demi-plié and end in fifth position demi-plié and everything inbetween is in the air and turning.

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Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet" has tour en l'air without changing feet.


Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio execute a double tour without changing feet and go directly into a sus-sous double tour changing feet, in their Act I pas de trois.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ignoring the fact that it is not physically possible to jump straight up from 5th position, turn twice in the air and come straight down again into 5th position, this must still be the feeling one has; that is, jump first, then turn. You must feel as if you jump as high as you can then turn twice very fast in the air. You will actually land about 1-1/4 turn around, but it will look like you're landing in 5th de face. Ideally, 'cheating' the starting 5th position is bad and evil, but we in ballet have very high and imaginary standards that no one can actually conform to. You have to TRY not to cheat it, and it is the trying--while realizing that perfection is impossible and accepting it--that will make you improve.

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Sorry, Hans, I've got to disagree with you here at almost every...uh... turn. It is possible to jump straight up, turn twice in the air, and come straight down again. If you don't, the air turns in the last movement of "Interplay" could get really interesting, and the male pas de quatre in the Raymonda grand pas would be all out of sync in no time.


And as to the standards of ballet being high and imaginary, the former is so, the latter is not. Realizing your present limitations is one thing, but complacency based on the acceptance of the idea of the impossible ideal is one of the greatest dangers any dancer faces.

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I think what Hans is saying, and feel free to contradict me Hans, I do not mean to put words in you mouth, is that it is not possible to jump straight up, without any rotation (as in soubresaut), and then at the height of your jump, begin to rotate. Part of the rotational force is taken from fifth position, and the dancer will begin to turn as soon as his feet leave the floor.


However, it is helpful in practical terms to THINK "jump straight up, spot the head twice, and land". This will help co-ordinate the spot with the body's rotation and the jump. And, of course, as always, if what you are doing is working for you, and looking nice, just go for it! Good luck everyone. . .



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Oh, OK!:( Now I see, if that was what was intended. Yes, steven, you are correct. It's just like trying to do a pirouette by going up into the pirouette position and THEN starting to try to turn! Now that can't be did! The jump the turn the land all run together, but sequentially, so that there's a beginning, a middle and an end, but the progession is seamless!

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Yes, that is what I meant :(. Although in the case of the pirouette, it actually is possible to relevé, stay for a moment, and then perform a tour lent on demi-pointe. That's not quite the same thing as a pirouette, though;).


I didn't mean to advocate any sort of complacency, but there are certain things one must be mentally comfortable with not having while at the same time trying to get them. For example, in class, you should try not to move your hips at all when performing battements to the back while realizing that they probably will move, at least a little, but that it's in trying to get them not to move at all that you improve. Maybe this is one of those things you're just not supposed to tell students so that they'll work harder :).

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