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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Wizard of Oz Step


irishprincess

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I'm not a very strong ballet dancer yet, but I've been doing musical theatre long enough to be asked to choreograph a high school version of the Wizard of Oz.

 

In our ballet class, we've been working on the step that "essentially" is Dorothy's "skip" down the yellow brick road. I think it's....pas de basque....

 

I'll be teaching this step to my fearsome foursome (Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion), and I was curious if anyone had any tips for me. I know a lot of the step is coupe, which I don't really do automatically yet, and I wondered if anything else came to mind.

 

Thank you!

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LOL, Irish princess! You've just had me get up from the breakfast table and try out the step. I was in a stage production of 'Wizard of Oz' as a child and learned the step then.

 

Two things strike me: 1) teaching the gallop at the beginning with a nice clean action -- a bit like a pas de chat action, but not turned out, and then 2) getting the left leg unfolding out (again not really turned out) in the left diagonal direction.

 

Actually, my nephews & I were messing around with both the Wizard of Oz step and the Monkees step at Christmas time, walking (galloping!) down a staid suburban street! They learnt both quite easily if we got the gallop first in the Oz step, and the stepping across the diagonal direction in the Monkees step. Both steps have that diagonal step out, in them, rather than stepping or galloping stratight ahead.

 

Good luck!

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I am such a dork, and am a master of this step (mastered it quite inebriated in college). Cutting the foot under to force out the working leg makes the accent right. It's the funky "coupe" action that makes this step work:)

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Hey - I LOVE the Wizard of Oz!!!!!!!!

 

And now I will be singing this all day.....

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Hey - I LOVE the Wizard of Oz!!!!!!!!

 

And now I will be singing this all day.....

 

Good luck with that. I've had a song from Wicked in my head for two days now ...

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However, in the W of Oz, the coupé is almost imperseptible. They almost do a straightleg rond, and kind of go side to side. I think it is easier to teach non dance people the step this way rather than focus on the coupé (which my ballet kids STILL have a hard time with, lol!!)

 

BTW, I taught this to a musical theater group many years ago and taught it with a little rond instead of the coupé to start, bring the next foot into a far forward rise (almost dragging the back foot in...not really a drag, but they seemed to think of it that way) so that they could travel down 'the yellow brick road!' :)

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What Dorothy et al. do is a pas de basque with a chassé temps leve inbetween. What the Monkees did was an old-fashioned step called "pas oblique", but they did them alternately. In the real pas obique, if desired to go to the right, the soldier (for it was a military step) stepped straight forward onto the left foot, then swung the right foot 45° to the right at the length of one pace, and maintaining the same front. If desired to go to the left, the left foot would swing out 45° and the right foot would step straight forward, the same front being maintained. Soldiers don't to this any more, the order of drill having become far more open. But this step is good for moving lines or masses of troops to the right or left, whether in company, battalion, regimental or even brigade order - that's, respectively 100, 500, 1,000, and 3,000+ men.

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Just a quick update:

 

My students are doing exceptionally well! (We don't open until March, but I started them on the skip already....endurance is as important as prettiness!) And the cool part is, my own pas de basque is much stronger! My teacher even complimented me in class the other day! (I screwed up the -rest- of the combination, but hey...I'll take what I can get)

 

Anyway, thank you all so much for your suggestions! If you in Georgia and would like to see a fantastic version of "Oz" come see us in March!! I'd love to meet my fellow ballet board-ers!

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Princess,

 

There is a lot to be said for the educational value of learning the original choreography. But eventually you will find the most rewarding thing is when you are comfortable doing your own version of the choreography for a musical or play. Unless you have a director that insists that you learn and teach the original step, that is. Fortunately the director I've worked with the most is kind of jaded on all the original stuff, and likes it when it gets non-trad, like making a section of "Marian the Librarian" Fosse-esque, or using primitivist, Nijinsky Rite of Spring inspired modern in Sleepy Hollow. Certainly more fun for the choreographer, when she or he can really open up the creativity.

 

I agree too with what others have said here, that it can be easier to teach something that's not quite syllabus to eager non-dancers- unless you have pro level dancers with a lot of cross training. Otherwise, if you're working with dancers who are intermediate-level ballet, for example, you might be constantly struggling to get them to not do the step or the enchainement exactly like what they've been taught in ballet class.

 

Merde!

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  • 1 month later...

We did a new step (for me) in class this week. It looked pretty much like the 4 characters of The Wizard of Oz going down the yellow brick road singing "We're Off to see The Wizard?"

 

I didn't catch what the teacher called it at all. Anybody have any ideas?

 

Laschwen

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It's a form of a Pas de Basque. Of course when done in ballet, it should be turned out! :clapping:

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Laschwen, here's a previous discussion -- lots of helpful advice on the step in both its ballet and musical theatre form.

 

Wizard of Oz step

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Actually, my nephews & I were messing around with both the Wizard of Oz step and the Monkees step at Christmas time, walking (galloping!) down a staid suburban street! They learnt both quite easily if we got the gallop first in the Oz step, and the stepping across the diagonal direction in the Monkees step. Both steps have that diagonal step out, in them, rather than stepping or galloping stratight ahead.

 

 

 

 

Hi All:

When I got the responses here I had to say OOHHH and AAHHH. I remember why it is familiar now. I think we were doing more of a ronde than a coupe, but there wasn't a breakdown of the step because everybody else seemed to know it already. I just jumped in and had fun. It did remind me of the Monkee Walk too; with the diagonal step out. That was the only hard part with the alternating.

 

Steps like that do occasionally appear on city streets, train platforms, and the like; at late hours in my experience. My midnight train stop one was a reminder of the first tap step from Nunsense that my companion had choreographed some time before. I won't forget that one even if it was in 1992. My favorite clubbing shoes died with that tap step and I went home with one shoe.

 

Laschwen

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