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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pirouette into Saut de Chat


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Why is it that I always have issues with different types of/preps for saut de chat? :shrug:


I'm learning a Shades variation from La Bayadere - the one that ends with all the releves in arabesque. :wub: I learned it 'quick and dirty' on Saturday, and had two quick runs of it today. I'm supposed to perform it in about two and a half weeks time (long story, last minute performance, etc...) and will only have maybe two more rehearsals or so. :wacko:


The music we have for this is very very very fast. So, in the beginning where it is pique arabesque fouette into fondu tendu devant efface (let me know if any of this is not clear), we changed it to pique arabesque, passe, fondu tendu devant croise... I think this is the only change we've made.


The passage I'm having trouble with is the middle part, that starts glissade, saut de chat, coupe pique en dedan in attitude, fondu coup de pied, pas de chat, pas de bourree to fourth, double pirouette... The music is so fast that I'm only doing a single, but after that pirouette there is no time to do a glissade. The pirouette is en dehors to the right, and I'm 'landing' it with low developpe devant croise to then step into the saut de chat. Which is, at the moment, looking rather flat and spastic. I don't think I can get a full height/extension saut de chat in time with the music, but I'd be happy with a nice, quick, light one.


When I asked for help with this, we thought I was putting too much into the pirouette itself, which really needs to be less than one full rotation to 'land' with the 'brakes on' to go back towards the left in the saut de chat. This helped a lot, and this teacher thought that the performance floor would be better (it's much less slippy). But I feel like I'm not getting enough ballon, which is a really wierd feeling because usually ballon is one of my strengths. Another teacher has agreed to help me with that section on Thursday, but in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, things to try, imagery... *anything* - I'd be really thankful!!! :angry:

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Ami - I've been hopping between your post and my Dvd of the Paris Opera (Nureyev version) doing Bayadere. Clothilde Vayer is the ballerina who danced the variation you're doing. I noticed that for this performance, the music was slowed down during the middle section of the variation. If you manage to get a slower version of the music in the end, that should be helpful. :nopity:


It looked as though Vayer allowed herself to not worry about being slow to start her pirouettes (e.g. taking a good deal of preparation time in 4th before going into them). Likewise with the pause in fondue devant before the jump. This looked good - it kept everything clean, steady and even. She was only somewhat behind the music.


During the jump, she looked out at the audience with a very light, happy feel. This was good. Just by having changed the head line and made noticable eye contact with the audience, she helped take the focus off the relative quickness of the movement. :wacko:


Also, rather than pushing for a great deal of height or split extension, she simply made the jump take an 'arc' form. That is, she jumped *lightly and loftily*, as though going *up and over* a little bucket at her feet. Like how you'd hop over a puddle that you only noticed at the last moment. Truly saut de chat in almost a 'pas de chat' sense of it :cat: - jumping a bit springily - (of course without the compact feeling of ordinary pas de chat).


I like Vayer's approach. It's probably the one that most dancers would need to take. It seems to me that the ballon for what is essentially a big jump that takes off from a rather stationary point, at very rapid speed, could not reasonably be astounding or extreme. That would give the jump a forced look and it would likely lose quality.


Aiming for the lightness of hopping over that little something on the ground - in almost Bournonville fashion - might help. I know it's a grand allegro jump, but in this case treating it as a medium allegro could smoothen the movement out into just a fleeting, pleasant arc, masking the fact that you're under a tight time constraint... :)


You're very suited to the piece and will be beautiful in it! All best! :wub::shrug::angry:

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That's the First Shade's variation, and tempo is very important to it. If you're using the old Bonynge recording, the A theme is just about top speed for doing the choreography. But when you get to the B period, then it's way too fast. The Spassoff (Bulgarian) recording is much better, slowing the B part to a danceable speed.

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Yes Mr. Johnson, that's the recording we have! I'll look for the Spassoff today during lunch - I have wanted the music anyways, so now is as good a time as any! Thank you thank you thank you! B) The version we have now makes me feel like a crazed spastic Tasmanian Devil (in the Looney Toones sense!) :wacko:


Technically, I think I'm using that step into the saut de chat more as a step to stop the rotation of the pirouette, and anything for the prep for the jump gets lost.


DT - thanks for your comments- I don't have that version of Bayadere on dvd, but indeed that's the one she told me to look at if I could get my hands on it. I really really do LOVE this variation - with all the little hops and the releves at the end.... It feels very suited to my body and except for the middle section no major problems - after being an 'ugly sister' since September it feels nice to be a bit more 'classy' again!


I think working on this tomorrow will help a lot as well, we'll have a bit more time.


Ideas still welcome, but I feel much better knowing that I might be able to do this at a more normal speed!

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No wonder you're having such difficulty! The Bonynge recording is too fast for even the most speedy of professional dancers to dance. You'll like the Spassoff MUCH better!

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I'm not sure if some people would consider this cheating, but my teacher always edits our music on her computer if needed, slowed down or speeded up certain sections. She usually get all the recordings of a ballet, such as Nutcracker, that she can find, usually 4 or 5 versions, and we pick which ones we like best, and then we tell her what we want faster or slower for whatever variation we are doing. If you don't have the computer software to do this, maybe a radio station could edit it for you. :party: good luck! er break a leg! :speechless:

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Thanks Tiffany -


There is an option to do that but I don't have the software and we don't have much time. My other teacher said she has a recording and is going to check for me.


She also had me practising this today with a tombe out of the pirouette which I thought would be harder but actually was easier for me - more fluid... Now to see if the other agrees! :thumbsup:


ETA: I just got an email saying that the one we were using (i.e., the one learned the variation to) *was* Spassoff and that she's just listened to the Bonynge (which she also apparently had???) and that the beginning of is slower but the saut de chat section about the same....?????????? :happy: I dunno.

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I think there has been huge confusion with the music - but from what I understand I am *now* dancing to the Spassoff.


The tombe out of the pirouette works great. Instead of doing a double, I'm doing a single (or more accurately... like 7/8ths or so?) ending in a developpe devant croise - delaying here slightly - and then tombe into the saut de chat. We are still leaving the change in the beginning - avoiding the change of position to efface - because I just can't do it and only have maybe one more *official* rehearsal (will keep running it after classes) before... but, suffice to say, I'm *much, much* happier.


Thanks Mr. Johnson, otherwise I would have not pushed it on the music! :bash:


Can I add, as a slight aside, that I'm so so so so excited to be performing something from Bayadere? I think I've been a little typecast (I know, let's have the Indian girl do Bayadere...) but it's kinda nice to have that work in my favour for once! And, on top of it all, I positively *love* the variation. :wink:

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The passage I'm having trouble with is the middle part, that starts glissade, saut de chat, coupe pique en dedan in attitude, fondu coup de pied, pas de chat, pas de bourree to fourth, double pirouette... The music is so fast that I'm only doing a single, but after that pirouette there is no time to do a glissade. The pirouette is en dehors to the right, and I'm 'landing' it with low developpe devant croise to then step into the saut de chat. Which is, at the moment, looking rather flat and spastic. I don't think I can get a full height/extension saut de chat in time with the music, but I'd be happy with a nice, quick, light one.

Is saut de chat an alternate term for grand jete developpe?


When I learned this variation, we also did a tombe out of the pirouette into the the grand jete developpe. I learned one "full" pirouette, and then during the second (not full rotation) we'd open the retire leg devant. That would slow the turn speed a bit, and allow for a tiny "lift" before the tombe. Then a very quick, springy tombe almost under ourselves into the grand jete developpe. (I learned a springy, light non full-split jete also)


I don't know what recording my teacher used, but the whole variation was indeed very, very quick! I didn't do too well with it. :bash:

Best of luck, I hope the performance goes well! :wink:




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Yup, saut de chat = grand jete developpe... One of my teachers also calls this a grand pas de chat. There's at least one (if not more) thread on this board discussing the terminology of this jump (and others!)... I find myself referring to that thread often!


It is quick! Have no clue how I look during it. I'm fine during the releves at the end and the series of hops in arabesque... but the very beginning and this middle section... my friend said it looked good last night and I just have to trust her.


Ideally I would do the one full rotation + pirouette you described... I just don't trust myself to even try and always be with the music. This way I hold and delay the developpe a bit and have a nice tombe into the jump... It probably looks nicer than my 'pirouettes with concentration face'!!!!


Many thanks for the good wishes! :wink:

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Oh, I also usually ended up doing just a single pirouette, not double like I learned it. I could not make the double reliably in time to the music either - I'm a slow turner. :bash: (We posted at the same time. I described what I learned, I had no intention to brag! :yawn: )


I don't know if it helps, but I remember the beginning part gets easier to do in time to the music, if you don't make the arabesque very high - about 60 degrees already looks good if it's clean. I learned this part with petit battement fouette, not with fouette, so maybe that is why the lower arabesque fit well stylistically. I don't know if it would work with your version?


It is a lovely variation, I hope you have much fun with it. I recall you mentioned somewhere you were short, so it probably looks fabulous. This one always seemed to fit the short girls. :wink:



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Paivi, no worries, I didn't take it as bragging at all!!! :wink:


I would love to be able to work up to the double pirouette... I just don't think I have time to work on this where I could do it confidently for this little performance....


I am doing a low arabesque, and you are right, it is petite battement fouette - I missed out that detail in writing it earlier. I can get to the efface, but it's getting from that back to the running hops en diagonal that I have trouble with... I will keep trying!!!


I am very short, and hops en pointe and ballones/releves are things I really enjoy... We did Cinderella earlier this year and I was an ugly sister so had to be crazy and OTT - which is why it feels so nice to be doing something like this!

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Oh it's not a company!!! (I wish!) One of the teachers here has this little amateur performing group and sometimes we get asked to perform at college functions or so and she just sees who's available that evening and there we go.... Nothing too exciting! She does one big production a year as well - Cinderella was that this year.


We still have to pay for classes, have very makeshift costumes, buy our own shoes, and even have to contribute to the cost of rehearsal space.... :blushing::blink:

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Okay, thanks to a very generous friend who is willing to lend things to me! I finally got to watch the POB version of this variation... with *annoying* taping. Why do they cut out and focus on the corps instead of her at the end?


I've seen Kirov do Bayadere, and they end this variation with a balance in arabesque, then step through... I've been asked to make the last releve an attitude croise devant.... What happens at the end of the POB version? I'm dying to know!!!!!


I noticed that her arms were different in the beginning and I think that would help a bit - and I feel much better with that middle section now. :)


I have a stylistic question about the releves in arabesque at the end. Are they supposed to travel? All of them? Or is this a stylistic option? I'm travelling all of mine across the diagonal of the space. The dvd - she moves to the centre and then does the rest in place.


And a pet peeve - on repeated releves when the wrists do the floppy 'I'm going to hoist myself up with my wrists' thing... I probably do it sometimes... but I very consciously try hard not to!!! Some softness is one thing... but.....

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