Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Petit Allegro - Can't move fast enough!


Recommended Posts

Hi. :yes:


I have a problem with petit allegro. I understand that I need to use my plie, get my heels down and work through my foot. However, if I do all of these I can't keep up with the tempo of the music. I can get height when I jump - I prefer grand changement to petit changement and find it easier - but I feel restricted when doing little jumps, and I always end up not using all of my plie (or not managing to plie at all), or fail to get my heel down on the floor when I land.


Is there any way I can fix this problem? :shrug: I feel like I'm moving in slow motion compared to everyone else, and constantly scrambling to keep up. If we could just slow the music down and jump twice as high I'd be fine :)

Link to comment

Oh dude. I soooo know how this feels. I am NO WHERE NEAR fast enough in my jumps. I am awful in my opinion. I did, however, take an open class at a different school last week and the teacher said to jump from your hips/thighs - rather than feet. Seemed like a useful concept.

If you generate the jump from there, perhaps then the movement will be more fluid?


I need help here too.

And if someone can teach me to not fear pirouettes (remember the broken foot!!) - I'd like that, too. :yes:

Link to comment

First, it is not always necessary to use your full plié for small jumps, as you aren't going very high. I usually try to think of the foot as a springboard, pressing through it on the landing to gather energy and using that energy to press up again once the heel touches the ground. Then you supplement that by bending your knee as much as necessary. You have to push off the ground very quickly, just enough so that you can fully point your foot in the air and come back down. You do have to roll through your foot and push against the floor, but you have to do it quickly. That is the point of all those tendus, degagés, &c at the barre--to strengthen your foot and ankle so you can move between a pointed and flexed position rapidly when you jump.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Well, the fear of pirouette one is easier, so I'll tackle that first. When you fall off a horse, get back on and ride! Just do them, and practice them A LOT! When you start to enjoy the feeling of being up there and going around, the fear will be gone and confidence will build. :yes:


As far as petit allegro, it is the bane of most dancers existence. :shrug: Seriously, there are a few natural jumpers with the speed, and also the quickness of mind, to get these combinations at tempo. However, to get there, one does have to start by doing them a bit slower, and fewer steps in the combination, etc. As they start to become more difficult, it will take a while to be able to do it, but, again, it's a matter of practice and training. Enough classes, plus some thought on the combinations between classes, and things will start to come together.


As to moving from hips and thighs, I don't think so. Movement is generated from the torso, not from the feet and not from the hips and thighs. The brain has to first understand the movement, then sends the message to the body to move, but all of the movement stems from the center and by using the torso, not from an isolated limb or even two! :)

Link to comment

I think sometimes we forget that there are shades and dynamics in everything. Petite allegro isn't always up up up up up.... there are different degrees/types of up, some of which require quick use of the feet, through to a small plie, through to a person's full plie, depending on the musicality. Learning to find these shades/dynamics is immensely helpful. Most helpful, however, is Ms. Leigh's comments on the use of the torso. Strength and lift in the torso (Clara_76, is this what you call lift-off? If so, I'm finally starting to connect the dots on the comments you gave me last year! Well... at least theoretically connecting the dots...!) leaves the legs so much more free and able to move, and also makes the body so much lighter!

Link to comment
:D:shhh::( Yep!!! You got it, Ami!!
Link to comment

:D Thanks Clara... you're a star, and you have the most amazing set of eyes...

It's not consistent yet, but considering that I'm just back into things that's okay. My teacher told me at the end of class yesterday that she's really happy with how much ankle has recovered - no problems or pain at all and that my plie and jump are back, but I still lose it at times.... baby steps....

Link to comment

A few tips for speed in petit allegro, which I find help my pupils.


The first is closing neatly. If you cross over your closings, so that it is clear which foot is front and which is behind, you are less likely to get muddled as to which foot to extend or jump on.


The second is anticipation, preparing yourself mentally to make the next move, which ties in with the third tip, which is weight placement control, which again relates to what Victoria said about the torso controlling the jump. You need to be ready to move the weight from one foot to the other by anticipating the next movement.


Fourthly, as someone said you don't need to do a full demi plie every time. On the contrary, use the plie to bounce back off the floor as soon as possible. You don't need to jump high in petit allegro - it's called terre a terre work for a reason! The dynamics in petit allegro are quite different from grand allegro and it sounds like you haven't accepted that idea yet!


Finally, practise parts of the enchainement, to build up the speed and neatness of the footwork, before trying to do the whole thing. :D

Link to comment
... The dynamics in petit allegro are quite different from grand allegro and it sounds like you haven't accepted that idea yet!

Now THAT is going to be a useful input! Thanks so much; I think this will help me a lot.


Also your "anticipation" which I think is related to Ms. Leigh's "quickness of mind" - these are things I sort of already know; it still takes a long time for things to work their way down from the ears through the brain all the way to the feet! :)


I have lost a favorite teacher who moved, and started with a new teacher. Her class is a challenge but OK until we get to petite allegro. I call it petite presto :shrug: I really, really want to claim I'm too tall to move that fast - but this teacher is nearly my height, and rips them off with no apparent effort, maintaining a flow of verbal description all the while! :)

Link to comment

Miss Leigh, Ami and Miss Clara - I'm not sure I understand how the movement in petit allegro is initiated by the torso? :shrug:


Hamorah, 'anticipation' is one of the areas where I run into problems. My 'thinking time' between steps goes on too long, I think. I still need to think a bit about the mechanics of an assemble or a sissone before I actually attempt it, which ties in with what ripresa says about practise. I think I need lots more practise! On your fourth point, I do find the dynamics of petit allegro difficult to grasp. I tend to try and perform each step clearly on its own, rather than thinking about it as a series of steps. As for not doing a full demi plie every time, well, *looks sheepish* sometimes, in panic - becuase I know I'm always behind, I forget to plie. It's a really bad habit, and I do it in turns too :)


Hans, my foot does sometimes feel 'slow' in petit allegro. I think I also need to do more tendus, etc, to ensure that I can pointe my foot faster. Thanks. :)

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Try walking leading with your feet and leaving your torso behind :thumbsup: You won't get very far. When you move your torso, the limbs come along. There is certainly a push from the feet and legs, but if the torso is not over them and moving, you won't go anywhere. Try sitting in a chair, feet on the floor. Without using your arms to push you up, how do you get up? You can push all you want from the feet, but the torso has to move forward to allow you to actually get up. You will find that you automatically move from the torso and push from the legs. This must also happen in dance. Sometimes what is "normal" movement, or automatic in real life, does apply to dance but we forget to do that because we get so involved with the details of the feet. The body weight needs to be going where you want to go in order for the feet to do what they have to do. :shrug:


Have I made it worse or better? :o

Link to comment

I always found the super fast petit allegro troublesome. In class, essentially I muddled through it as best I could most of the time. The only consolation was that so too did most of we older dancers.


Doing something faster generally requires two things. One is a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers. The bad thing for we older folk is that as we age we lose fast twitch muscle, consequently our ability to do things quickly degrades. The second thing is that speed of movement is dependent on developing efficient motor pathways (the wiring that activates muscle). We develop efficient motor pathways by doing lots of repetition. That’s the good thing. We can do the repetitions.


Personally, I think the most important thing in all allegro is technique. Having said that, I don’t think technique makes you jump higher or faster. Technique is just what ballet is about. In my own case, I would reconcile all of this by taking the super fast petit allegro combination from class and do it at home in my home practice sessions but at the slower petit allegro music I had. It might take 2-3 weeks to do a particular super fast combination. At first I would try to do the combination as best I could with the music I had. Once I got to where I didn’t have to think about just doing the combination, I started to think of the combination as strictly a technique exercise. Of course, that combination was never repeated in class, but at least I felt I had accomplished something.


Obviously, I couldn’t do this with all the super fast combinations. I’d just pick those I thought I would like to be able to do reasonably well.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Gary, this is very good, but it also assumes that one has a safe (meaning both floor and space) place to do this at home. Also, to work on petit allegro, one should be properly warmed up, so it would also have to assume enough training to know how to do a barre on your own. If those things are in place, then, it's great. :thumbsup:

Link to comment
The body weight needs to be going where you want to go in order for the feet to do what they have to do. :unsure:



(Where's the light bulb icon when you need it??)


Thank you so much Ms Leigh!


The number of times I managed to get the correct leg up when asked to change direction, and "got stuck" and failed to complete the rest of the enchainment. Then beat myself up for not being able to get through, wondering why on earth I couldn't do it.


Now I get it.... I've got my weight in the wrong place!!


Darn, studio's already "broke" for summer :D Got to wait a while before I could get back to class...!! Can't wait to try this out!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...