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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Another "Name that step"


elise

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Last night's intermediate class has us attempting "flying pas de chats," which I assume was really Grand Pas De Chat or something a little less silly. But the step that really confused me, mainly because it was kind of 'breezed over' was a sort of 'catch up' step. I can't even begin to spell it so I will embarass myself and try it phonetically, which of course might not even be right, "con tra tahn." Sort of a sweeping type of step before a pas de bourree. At the time that step was the least of my worries, trying to keep up with the rest of the steps.

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I leave the technical explanation to the teachers , but the name of the step is 'CONTRETEMPS' and it has something to do with not starting on the main time of the music but just afterwards (that is, not 'sur le temps')

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From Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet:

 

Contretemps: Beating against time. A term of the Cecchetti method and the French School. This is a compound step consisting of a coupé dessous, chassé effacé en avant, fermé, temps levé, and chassé passé croisé en avant. It is executed quickly and prior to the beat of the music. It is a very useful step for traveling to the side. Fourth position L foot back and pointe tendue. Raise the L foot slightly off the ground, spring off the R foot and jump forward on the L foot--bending the knee--so that the L foot falls in a short fourth position front. Bring the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and immediately slide it--bending the knee--to the second or fourth position, transferring the weight to it. Close the L foot to the fifth position back, keeping the knees bent. Finish with a demi-contretemps.

 

Contretemps, demi-: Half-beating against time. A term of the Cecchetti method and the French School. Demi-contretemps is the second half of the full contretemps and is used mostly as a preparatory step. It is composed of a temps levé and a chassé passé croisé en avant. Fifth position R foot front. Spring upward off the R foot and bring the L foot sur le cou-de-pied derrière. Come to the ground on the R foot in demi-plié and slide the L foot forward with a chassé passé croisé en avant. Demi-contretemps may also be executed from the fourth position, L foot back, pointe tendue.

 

Vaganova does not describe contretemps in her book, and I don't have my Kostrovitskaya or Warren for further clarification, but I hope this helps :wink:.

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