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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Term confusion.


magentamimi

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So I had my first ballet class at a new studio so I might have just never heard these words used before, and my spelling is also terrible so bare with me please. :thumbsup: When we were at the barre we were doing combinations and instead of using "passe" my ballet teacher used "retiree" (sp?), are they different? She also kept using "rotation" as a step in the part of the combination while we were at the barre but I'm not totally sure in regards to what. I'm thinking maybe I'm just used to a different style, especially since the rest of the class wasn't wrapping their foot for frappes like I'm used to. Any sort of insight would be great!

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Ballet has many words for the same things. Retire and passe are the same position/movement. I wonder if you heard rotation wrong, was it supposed to actually be a move? Never heard anything be called that before.

 

But yes, many moves have 2-3 terms for them which mean the same thing. I'm trying to come up with examples but my mind is going blank. :X

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Well, in my country we use retiré, not passé, so for a long time I didn't know what people were talking about when they mentioned "passés" here! I study under the RAD method, and this is what I understand regarding retirés:

A retiré is when one lifts the leg up to the knee (as one would in passé) and it is called "retiré passé" when it passes through to the other side (e.g. starts in front and closes behind or vice versa).

I'll try and explain what I think could have been meant by "rotation". In my understanding, a rotation is similar to a fouetté (not a fouetté turn but a fouetté being a pivot-type-thing on the supporting leg away from the direction of the working leg). So a rotation is a pivot-type-thing on one leg that means you turn towards your working leg. E.g. if one did a tendu to the side, then pivoted towards the working leg so that the working leg would now be positioned in tendu devant, that would be a rotation.

(that's not the best explanation but I can't think of a better one).

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Swantobe is right. A passé (technically) retiré passé must pass from front to back or back to front. A retiré is just the position itself.

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It sounds to me like you might have been in an RAD or RAD-influenced class because it seems that only RAD uses the term "rotation" for a movement and not only in terms of turnout (in terms of the movement, we pronounce it as it would be pronounced in French, along the lines of "ro-ta-si-on"). Furthermore, in my training under the RAD method, we do not use the wrapped position for frappés, but we do for petits battements and serrés.

 

Do any other methods make use of the movement rotation, using that term?

 

 

Forgive me if I am wrong, but it seems that in some places/studios, "passé" is used in place of both "retiré" and "retiré passé"? But then how do you know whether it is just a retiré or actually a retiré passé? :)

I've also heard that in some places "coupé" is used when referring to the "cou-de-pied" position??

It seems, in my understanding, that in both cases the term for a movement has replaced the term for a position that just happens to be incorporated in that movement? :shrug:

 

(strange how ballet terms can morph and change!)

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But then how do you know whether it is just a retiré or actually a retiré passé? :)

 

You watch what the teacher marks to see whether she holds the position, or moves it to the other side.

 

My current studio doesn't appear to use retiré at all, just passe for both the position and the movement.

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In my various classes I've had teachers use retire and passe interchangeably to only mean drawing the foot up from the floor, through coupe and onto the passe position, without necessarily switching it to the back before closing. That doesn't mean it's actually right to call it that way, but at this point in my life to me retire and passe both mean "get your leg up to pirouette position". The rest I wing from there based on what the teacher does/says. ;)

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Technically, a retiré passé is either an over or under movement. Retiré is a withdrawal of the leg to that position at the knee. If the front leg goes up and comes down in the same place (or could open to an extension from there) it is a retiré. If front leg goes up and closes to the back, it's a passé. Same from back to back or back to front.

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Coupé is an action; sur le cou-de-pied is a position. Passé is an action; retiré is a position. :3dnod:

 

Teachers sometimes get things wrong.

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And I hate how teachers mix up the terms -- Pique and pointer (I don't know if this is a my school thing or what, only one of the teachers use "pointer" when the accent is up, the other ones all refer it as "pique"...); soutunu and detourne; jete and degaje, etc... Cuz you think you are doing the right thing, until there's a teacher that really cares about the difference, and then you realized that you have been taught wrong!

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Coupé is an action; sur le cou-de-pied is a position. Passé is an action; retiré is a position.

 

Thank you, thank you. This is one of my big pet peeves.

 

There will always be some variation with some terms depending on the method (i.e. battement glisse vs. battement jete vs. battement degage), but the above terms are the same, as far as my research shows in all methods.

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Forgive me if I am wrong, but it seems that in some places/studios, "passé" is used in place of both "retiré" and "retiré passé"?

 

Always seems to me this is a misunderstanding of the French language and grammar, and probably a result of the traditional use of French terms as a technical vocabulary of balletic terms, without an understanding of French more generally as a language.

 

As Ms Leigh says, retiré is the movement to a position -- it's not a noun, but in this context it takes the place of a noun, while passé is more clearly a movement and a verb. To call a retiré a passé grates a little on me because it feels illogical grammatically.

 

But then how do you know whether it is just a retiré or actually a retiré passé?

In the US, passé the standard usage -- in classes in the US, in my experience, I've found I need to work out whether the leg "passes" from context (or the teacher demonstrating), rather than the use of grammatically logical French!

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In the US you also need to work out what is meant by "coupé".....is the teacher asking for a step where one foot cuts away the other one, or a position where one foot is in a cou de pied devant or derrière??? This has made me crazy for many, many years. :3dnod:

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I teach at 3 different studios, and also teach 4 "open" adult classes a week. Over time it has become highly apparent that I am one of the few teachers in the area that uses "proper vocabulary." That being said, I've had to change my vocabulary because a lot of people just don't know, don't understand, or just don't DO what I'm asking. Of course, it is my job as teacher to TEACH the steps and vocabulary.... but after about 6 months of repeating the same things over and over... I gave up.

 

For my younger students that I teach more regularly, we discuss "proper" vs. "accepted" terms. I verbally give spellings and definitions of steps, and quiz them at random moments during class. This way they understand what I am asking of them, but also how they can assimilate what another teacher may be asking of them.

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