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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pas de cheval


jimpickles

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I met this nice step in a new class that I took, where it was used a lot. I had not come across it before in classes which I have taken in many places over several years. Is it an uncommon step?

 

Thanks,

 

Jim.

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Not really. It's a battement fouetté that's done terre à terre, sometimes with a little jump, as in the female variation in Don Quixote pas de deux, or with a little turn, when it becomes "flic-flac en tournant".

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And, it's an excellent exercise at the barre for use of the feet. :yes: I use it a lot, usually connected to the dégagé exercises.

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Jim,

 

Thanks for bringing this up. I hope you don't mind if I piggy back.

 

I take classes from two teachers right now, both are aware of the other, etc....

 

Lately we've been doing a lot of pas de cheval and petite developes. One teacher, I can't tell the difference between what she's doing when she demonstrates it? :D (And notes that we are doing the 'wrong one' halfway through)?

 

The other teacher emphasises what she sees as the difference - a strong use of the metatarsal that doesn't come to the full, weight on two-feet fifth position as the pas de cheval, with petite develope starting very clearly from fifth into sur la coup de pied... am I thinking of this in the right way???

 

(I apologise as my Ward and Grant are in storage....)

 

Ami

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Ami, I'm afraid I found your question totally confusing, however, I can describe a pas de cheval for you. It starts in a plié in 5th. The working foot peels off the floor through the metatarsal, to the cou de pied position while still in the demi plié, and then both knees straighten at the same time as the working leg does the petit développé to front, side, or back. There should be a strong use of that working foot on the floor in the plié before it peels up to the cou de pied, and then a strong push of the instep outward to the tendu or dégagé where it is going.

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Ms Leigh:

 

To simplify, my question was on the difference between pas de cheval and petite developpe, as I'm getting confused by some of the 'differences' stated in class!

 

According to what you've written, it's the plie! This makes sense to me in the DonQ solo, for example... but....

 

Is there a way to do pas de cheval without the plie? We sometimes get an exercise that ends in pas de cheval - 4 en croix. There's no plie, and the gesturing leg does not come into a complete fifth position or take weight during?

 

Or maybe I'm just in a land of utter confusion/mutilation of the step!

 

Thanks, Ms Leigh.

 

Ami

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Yes, I think if you do the same action with the foot, even without the plié, it would still be a pas de cheval.

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Once had a favorite teacher who always included an exercise combining degages, pas de chevals, and little envelopes, all done to a very fast tempo. If your goal was to never make a mistake, you didn’t think much of this exercise, but I always thought it was kinda fun. At the end of the exercise you didn’t know if your foot was coming or going.

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Oh well.. May I ask a question? According to your description of pas de cheval (I've never done that step in my entire life) it sounds too much like "fondue", and my teachers have all taught fondue exactly like you described (I had three teachers since I've restarted).

 

I have a ballet dictionary written by Gail Grant and there it describes fondue just like a plié only, so why do my teachers call pas de cheval a fondue? Is that common? By the way, wouldn't it be a frappé when it's done without a plié, what's the difference between them?

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Yes, I think if you do the same action with the foot, even without the plié, it would still be a pas de cheval.

 

Thanks Ms. Leigh, but this brings me back to my original question: what's the difference between the pas de cheval and petite developpe? Your description the step above to me sounds like a petite developpe beginning in a plie in fifth? I'm sorry if I'm over-analysing this or missing something obvious! :shrug:

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Fondu is on one leg. In pas de cheval the plié is in the 5th, and you begin straightening out of the plié as the foot peels off and does the little développé.

 

As far as I know, a petit développé would be the same action of the leg extending from a cou de pied position, either from fondu or not, to a low level, like a tendu or a dégagé. The lower leg unfolds and extends. In a regular développé the leg goes to retiré and then unfolds. So, the unfolding of the lower leg, from either fondu cou de pied or 5th plié would be a petit développé. :shrug: Perhaps there are other explanations, but this is what makes sense to me.

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This is probably only adding to the confusion, but I always thought the difference was that a pas de cheval was a petit developpe with a strong accent out, which then closed straight back in (because you don't see many horses standing with their legs in tendu.....)

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As it was demonstrated to me, the accent out generated a curving effect reminicent of the way a horse puts its leg out to paw the ground. I hope I have this right, because it was all over so quickly. To me, it seemed a pretty and appealing step. As Ms. Leigh said, it was used at the barre among other exercises for the feet and in particular among dégagé exercises.

 

Jim.

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And if anything, the strong accent is IN! Yes, indeed, it is so-named because it looks like a horse pawing the ground.

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