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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Fouettes en tournant


Je Suis Aimee

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As a lot of you probably know, Russian fouettes en tournant involve the working leg going out to a la seconde. How convenient, just when I'd gotten comfortable doing them the other way! We did some of these yesterday at the barre, and I found them to be immensely awkward. Where is the impetus supposed to come from? Any tips?

 

There was also a fouette exercise in the center, however for those of us who aren't fouette virtuosos, the teacher had us do the preparation positions only, without turning. This involved many repeated plies with the leg a la seconde, into a passe releve; but in the passe position, the working leg does a sort of little battu from the back to the front of the knee. Can someone tell me what this is and how it prepares for the fouette? I plan on doing lots of these at home :)

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I think you mean you are doing an actual passé in retire position. You passé from back to front, right? I was taught that the power of the turn comes (if we are thinking only the lower half of the body anyway) from the strength of the leg closing/returning into retiré. You plié, and that snap or whip of the working leg coming back into retiré gives you the momentum or impetus to keep turning. I find this turn to be less complicated than moving my working leg from avant to second, to retiré! It cuts out one giant motion that throws me off.

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I have been taught the same as LaFilleSylphide that the impetus comes from the working leg "whipping" into the retire position. We are taught that the legs and arms have to work together so the arms have to move inwards to 5th devant with the same speed etc as the leg whips into retire, sorry this is very hard to explain but by the time the leg is on the knee in retire the arms are firmly in 5th devant. :unsure: If I am not clear, please let me know and I will try again.

 

Something that we do use while learning/practising is to put the hands on the hips either one (in which case for normal fouettes it is the standing legs arm which is on the hip) or both, it really forces you to use the epaulment and get the standing legs shoulder (and elbow) around.

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I guess what I am saying is, I totally get how the leg would whip you around going from devant to a la seconde and then passe. From seconde directly to passe, not so much. The first way, the leg actually swings to the side and creates momentum But the second way... the leg directly closes to passe? Or is there something I am missing? Does it kind of do a ronde de jambe en dehors type of movement?

 

I seem to have this impression that certain Russian style movements use the upper body for more percentage of the impulse.

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It is essential for both types of fouettés that the back motivates the turn. You must very strongly use the back (and by extension, the arms) for momentum, although the sideways "whip" of the leg helps a good deal, too. I've found it helpful to very strongly accent the "out" movement of the leg. I had at least one teacher who had us do the movement like rond de jambe en l'air--not sure if that's how it is taught at the Vaganova Academy or not--VRS would be able to give you specifics.

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I'm with Hans in that I feel that the torso is really important in turns, but especially in consecutive turns (whether from fifth, in seconde, in attitude devant, or fouettes en tournant). The coordination of the back/arm/leg/supporting leg is maybe more important than feeling the impetus in just the leg itself.

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I was also told to imagine that you go through a rond de jambe en l'air when you pull in from passe. And my teacher's from Romania, so I guess that might be some sort of Vaganova tradition as well. And I was told that that's why he always dedicate a combination just for rond de jambe en l'air at the barre!

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Hmmm, an interesting thought! I had never really though of the back as being important in the turn, the arms yes, the shoulder yes, but never the back - very interesting!

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The back muscles are critical for turning, Balletlove. The arms and shoulders do not create the turn, they react to the movement of the torso and help the turn and the stability of the position, but you can fling your arms all over the place and not go anywhere. Can't do that with your torso. It generates all of our movement.

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I think it's easy to over-think the arms -- but really, you should be able to pirouette with your hands on your hips, in fifth en haut, on your shoulders, etc -- only way to do this is with your back.

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Often in mid to upper level barre work (Vaganova schooling), rond de jambe is combined with tour fouette however the two movements are quite different. Rond de jambe is a circular movement (egg shaped or half an egg) while in fouette the movement of the lower working leg is a whip, not a rond at all.

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Interesting and informative answers, thank you all. I also will agree about the importance of the back muscles. I was practicing some sort of turns at home some time ago, and when they finally came out more controlled and "right", I distinctly felt the muscles along my back working. So I can attest to their role!

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Having had very few true Vaganova teachers, I was wondering about the pathway of the arm. My inclinations are that the arms move to second with the working leg and back to first as the leg returns to passe’. I had an advanced student tell me yesterday that she was taught to roll the arm to second as if “the arm was being pushed by a rolling pin.” In other words, opening the arm from elbow instead of the shoulder or a combination of the two. Is this a normal method for teaching port de bras for this turn?

Note: The student’s teacher was teaching in the Balanchine style.

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When arms move from the elbows they look like they are doing a karate chop. :D

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Well, I don't think that's Balanchine, but it might be Suki Schorer. The two are not absolutely synonymous.

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