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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What's the point of ronde de jambe en l'air? This exercise?

Paul Parish


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  1. 1. What's the point of ronde de jambe en l'air? This exercise?

    • rondes de jambes a terre
    • piques
    • rondes de jambes en l'air
    • grandes battements

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Actually, DOES ANYBODY ELSE love THIS EXERCISE? I think I'm starting to understand it.


I've always liked doing it -- unlike say, frappe, which is an aquired taste ( for most people, HUH?)


I'm curious what exercises other people actually love to do....


I DON't love grande ronde de Jambe.... but ronde de jambe en l'air -- the ones you do at the barre with your leg in second.


Ilove the way it feels, I can feel the rotation happening as a n active thing, and I also feel it help "pull up the backside" i.e, to flatten hte pelvis without tucking.....


Nancy Johnson, who was a brilliant ballerina here, pointed it out to me -- how very important and useful ronde de jambe is -- it develops the strength you need to lift up under the buns. The key is this: with the working leg up in second, when you FIRST start to pull your foot in to make the circle, make sure you feel your hamstring do the work, and feel hte working leg strengthening right under the buttock.....


Ever since then I've felt like it's my friend and look forward to that part of the barre.....


it's like with abs -- the shape of hte abs is something you DO, not something you "have"


PS -- I kind of flubbed the poll -- it only gave me 4 optoins, instead of 6.... but you can tell me what exercises you like... and I totally forgot to mention arms and head positions....

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If I understand your question, you were asking what the point of the exercise is, correct? Or was it a rhetroical question? I have no basis to answer other than my own theories. It seems to me the point is to build turn-out and strength. This exersice is very helpful in center in jumps like fuoettes, where turnout is important and maintianing the leg height while landing is required.


As to my favorite, I think it's fondu at the barre. Keeping everything timed just right is very hard. When it's done well, it looks and feels great.


I think the hardest I've found is a good plie. Of late I'm learning the importance of a really good, solid plie as part of almost every movement. Particularly now that I'm learning turns like tour en l'air. My turns will be so much better when I finally master a deep, soft, plie while pulling up in the torso. The further along I go, the more important this step becomes to me.



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The rond de jambe en l'air is for the reasons you both have stated, but it is also because it is a step that is used in the center! They are done in pointe work and in allegro and used a lot in choreography. They are one of my favorite steps :) They can be done from a sissonne action into the air or to pointe, a piqué action, or from a dégagé or brush and jump or relevé, like a ballonné. Also used in Giselle's Act I variation in the hops on pointe :D

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and as part of gargouillades -- I was just watching some old tapes, of Markova doing gargouillades in he dance of hte Sugar Plum Fairy -- and also Bessmertnova, in hte second act of Giselle, doing sautes with tiny little double ronde de jambes, and later with releves doing maybe 5 or 6 little circles .. so delicate........ and of course men can do them huge.......


getting hte timing right for the jumps is very tricky; it's pretty rare that I can do the round while I'm still in the air, it usually happens after i've landed, which can be handsome but it's not right.......


oh and yes, sorry, it WAS a rhetorical question......

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I love the strength that rdj en l'air builds in the hips and the supporting side. And I love the gentleness with with well trained dancers can perform them as part of much of the above mentioned center work.

I have to say, though, I LOVE doing frappes, RAD style. I love working on foot articulation and strength, holding the thigh turned out, and speed together. I don't understand why so many people dislike them.

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So that is what petit rond de jambes en l'air are for! I always figured they must be very useful since they make my muscles protest, but I could not understand why. :D


Anyway, for a favourite movement at the barre I'd probably pick battemets jetes, or maybe petits battements. I really enjoy working on them. :)

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Guest fiafour

In answer to your question, what exercises do I like doing...I love developpe. My instructor thinks I am strange, because she like intricate foot work. I love the stretching and the power of slowly unfolding my leg, feeling the muscles working to their max. :)


So, maybe I am crazy. As for ronde jambes en l'aire...I am just getting used to these. I have trouble "finding" the right muscle. Once I do, I can do them correctly. My body just doesn't react at first using the correct muscle. Usually, I can coax it. My instructor said that her teacher used to come along and jab her fingernail in the right muscle to let her know which one to use. I try to imagine someone doing that to me. Hehe.


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Lord yes, the reverence.... my teacher Pat Cloud used to give extended revenrences that were so sweet they were silly, but they were Trockadero-esque fantasies of the glamor of this very moment. Basically we'd do temps lie back and forth front foot to back, and back again doing all sorts of portes de bras, especially 4th arabesque, lots of torque through the ribs, then transfer through second and do the other side, with much following hte hand with the eye and fascinating little smiles and expansive breathing..... it was essentially a dance for the torso over simple lunges. I loved it -- She had fabulous batterie and feet like daggers, but htis was the part of class that seemed to bring out her bittersweet sense of fantasy the most....

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Guest beckster

What is fourth arabesque? I'm sorry to appear stupid, but I only know three!


And my favourite barre exercise, for the record, is probably petit battement. It was something that just clicked straight away for me. I also love the pas de bourree barre enchainment in RAD grade 6. I think sharp quick movements somehow work best for me - don't know why.

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ooooooooohhhh, 4 th arabesque--


do first arabesque, ok? and now swivel 90 degrees so you're croisee instead of effacee, ok? and NOW pull your forward shoulder even more forward and twist through the rib-cage so there's a long line from front hand to back, with the backs of your shoulders almost en face to the audience, look out at the audience over our shoulder -- it's a really glamorous position, and it actually feels great if you're a stretchy sort of person....... you're actually showing your upper back to the audience... the Russians use this a lot--


My teacher Debra Isaacson used to give an adagio combination where you'd do an inside pirouette and end it by falling onto hte foot that had been in passee so the leg you'd turned on would fly up behind you, arms in 4th arabesque, and you'd HOLD that arabesque a count and pas de bourree en tournant around yourself -- scrumptious move, a very comfortable combination, it felt so natural (but hten I'm really comfortable in fondu -- I don't turn well, but that turn was easy, because I could always save it by tombeeing into that arabesque, and I'd know I could nail it). also the twist in he shoulders actually makes the pas de bourree turn so easy.......



petites battements are definitely fun...


if you like sharp, quick movements, it may have to do withthe kind of muscle that dominates yor make-up; there are different kinds of muscle, we all have all of them, but it vaires from person to person as to whether the fast-burst or the sustained-movement or the slow-twitch fibers predominate. I have n't STUDIED the physiology of this, but it's one ofthose things that exercise physiologists DO study and they understand a lot about it nowadays.... but you'll certainly see people who are naturals for develloppee and others who are naturals for frappe and fast fast chainee-turns and they are like opposite ends of hte spectrum......


That's the great thing about balet -- you have to develop EVERYTHING, the things that come easy and hte things that come HARD.....

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The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques; the Russian School (Vaganova), four; and the French School,two.

So it depends what your teacher is teaching you and what method they follow or prefer.


As to my favorite step, out of the ones given in the poll, I would have to say piques. I love them so much:D:D:D They feel so beautiful to perform.

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Guest beckster

ok, I'm going to look foolish again: what are piques? I've done pas de bourree pique and I've done things called piques in the centre where you bounce your foot off the floor, but I don't think that can be what you mean?

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yes, essentially that is a pique. The word actually means 'to prick'.

It is executed by stepping directly on the point or demi-pointe of the working foot in any desired direction or position with the other foot raised in the air. As, for example, in piqué en arabesque, piqué développé etc

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oh yes, htat is of course a pique......


but I meant battement pique, which is a degage that touches down and pops back up, like you'd touched something hot...... We do them every day after tendus and pas de chevals and degages -- , sometimes mixed in with them -- one of Sally's classic exercises is tendu-lift-tendu fifth tendu fifth pique fifth...en croix.... the make your leg feel so long, you can feel it pulling away from the hip, feels great....


it's preparation for cabriole; Once in a blue moon she gives double-piques, which are preparations for double cabrioles.....

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