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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Couru's/pas de bourrée suivi


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For my RAD Intermediate exam, we have to do a couru exercise (I believe, in America, this step is called pas de bourrée suivi? I am referring to a "running" step en pointe in 5th position with the back leg "leading") and I am really struggling with this. We need to do them en diagonale in croisé, sur place and en tournant (if that makes sense?). Mine look :lol:


I think the problem is that I am not releasing my ankles (I am releasing my knees, as one should). Can anyone help please? What I am looking for are specific, progressive exercises that can help me to develop the right movement.


I am working through other posts about this, and in one of them, vrsfanatic described the following progression, done in the Vaganova syllabus, which I think might help (I have highlighted especially helpful parts):


"Musical accompaniment 4/4 and then 3/4, slowly at first then increase the tempi as the students develop technically.


It is first studied facing the barre on demi-pointe with good sur le cou de pieds front and back, well turned out. The transfer of the weight from one leg to the other is done without any movement in the upper body, stepping toward 5th position, never having the weight on more than one foot at a time. The accent falls on the front leg. At first each step is done on the 1/8 note and then on the 1/16th. When the students are able to do it at the barre with the body remaining calm, it may then be studied in the centre. Watch that the students always have the feeling of stepping up to pointe even though they are stepping down to the toes. This helps to keep the body quiet. Also the knees must pass strongly pulled up and together, almost like the upward movement of changement, but without the jump (in the Vaganova program the upward movement the legs are assembled in one line in 5th position, as if doing sousous).


When done in the centre each step is done on the 1/16th note. Begin in croise, arms in small 2nd position looking into the downstage hand, Then with varying arms. Once this is understood it is then done turning in place, changing legs. Musical accompaniment: 2/4, each step on the 1/16th note. After it is well learned on demi-pointe, it is then studied in the same manner on pointe, at the barre, in the centre and in circle.


In 2nd year the movement is taught side/front/back, on diagonal. With various preparations and with two turns in 5th.


Perhaps what I have to contribute is the way it is taught in the beginning with sur le cou de pieds."




I would most like practical exercises I can do that will help me to "feel" the correct movement and to understand the movement fully. My teachers keep correcting me and helping me with this but don't seem to have any specific progressive exercises to help me with this, so I decided to put it out to the ballet experts here :flowers:


(in the past threads like this have become discussions about the terminology - couru vs. bourrée etc. Please don't make this post about that - if you want to do that please start your own thread! :wink: )

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Oh, and does anyone have any imagery that helps them with this step? Any tips at all at this point would be useful :D

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Guest Matti18

Hi Lau :D I do RAD inter too, and the couru exercise is a nightmare, just makes your legs ache (I usually fall off pointe about half way through)


Have you tried using the barre to start with? One hand on, couru forwards, then turn around and couru back, all en pointe? This is helpful as it gets you used to the movements you'll be doing with the additional 'support' or just practice courus at home, in one place, maybe even en demi pointe, just to get the feel for the movement.


As for how to do them, I can't help much, other than suggest en demi, just pull up to a really tight fifth position releve, and then try and move with everything still pulled tight, see how hard it is (and how funny it looks :) ) then loosen knees then ankles until you can move fluidly, then try en pointe.


Often it's strength en pointe that makes the exercise tricky, as your strength wanes in the middle then your legs sort of flop out of it. Well mine do anyway, just keep working at it.



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Thanks Matti. I can do the exercise, if just going through the motions means doing the exercise :) (I normally practice it in zig-zags across the room, when I'm practicing alone, in which case I do it 4 times, because the music goes 4 times! After the chassé passé at the end, don't hold the arabesque line, but coupé and start going in the other direction). Oh and doing it 4 times is great for stamina!


My teachers suggested the following:

- do it sur place at the barre

- do it de coté at the barre

(for me, courus en avant or en arrière, like we do in the pas de bourrée piqué exercise, are much easier than courus de coté or en diagonale :D )


I've been practicing sur place, without the barre, but I seriously think that I am doing something wrong in how I do it. How can it be so much easier when done sur place but so hard when moving to the side/diagonally?


I have also been corrected for over-crossing the back leg (thereby tripping myself up!) which is something I'm working hard not to do and it only happens occasionally now.

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One little piece of imagery that I have found helps sometimes is to thing of your line of travel as going upwards, like up a mountain. Keep going higher and higher. This helps to keep you from getting stuck and settling into your pointe shoes, and allows the legs and feet to keep moving because the body is busy lifting off of the legs instead of pushing into them.

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I don't know much about RAD syllabus, but this is the sequence that bourree was taught to me:

1) Bourree at the barre, don't travel - basically, that's stepping in 5th, on alternative knees, and flexing the knee at the same time... Supple knees and ankles... At first, our teacher told us to make rumbling sound like thunders, so we can hear that both feet are working alternatively and equally. And then, then, reduce the sound...

2) Bourree at the barre, travels - I was taught that if you want to travel, it's the back leg that does the work. It should be crossing the fifth, the more you cross, the more you are going to travel. And then, try to do it at the barre with what we called finger barre -- only one finger each hand is allowed to touch the barre... and then bourree en tournant can be added...

3)Bourree in the center - if you can do the finger barre at the barre, you should be able do to it in the center...


I was also told to think bourree like beats. I actually never have problem doing bourrees on the right side, but usually can't travel as much on the left side -- it's a lot harder to cross and pull up in the left side...


Hopefully I am helpful... :D

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Thank you for that image, Ms. Leigh. I think that will really help! I think, in another post I have just read, that you described it like going up in a cable car on a mountain?


Can you explain exactly what the ankles are meant to be doing? I am worried that by over-analysing this movement, I may end up paralysing myself, but basically I just want to know if there's anything specific I should be concentrating on in terms of the ankles?

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Thank you Ballet Bunnie. I like the "thunder" idea. What do you mean by "flexing" the knee? :D


Yes, they are much easier on the right for me too. It's mostly the left that I'm worried about, but I'm also not happy about mine in general.

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Well, not like really try to flex them type of "flex", but they do have to bend slightly in order to step alternatively...


I wish I am equal on both sides, lol...

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My teacher told me to today that I have a very nice couru action on demi-pointe, so I should practice my pointe-work exercise en demi-pointe, too. So it seems like I "get" it en demi-pointe but something is getting lost in translation en pointe.

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