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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Contretemps/Demi-contretemps --


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I see both done in what look to me to be a few different ways. (In adult class here, a teacher does not bring up if a student performs in class a different version of the step - and that is fine...). This means that I see contretemps or demi-contretemps performed in these different ways - including the way the teacher demonstrated it for the combo.... (and often one way looks nicer to me...)


It makes this interesting because I need to research in considerable depth, to read explanations and see video of the step if that is something I can find. But that still often does not let me "make sense" of the step.


Contretemps to me "looks" like a saute arabesque w/ a rond de jamb, 'sort of' -- Demi-contretemps to me "looks like" a sort of pas de basque with a low passe......... anyway, my eye sees this (in class).


So, I'd really appreciate breakdowns and a word of explanation for these, as BT experts do so well! I realize that among BT teachers, and members there could be different versions, too -- that's fine.


Again, are these considered only linking steps? Or steps in their own right as well, depending on the choreography, and timing, etc.... The linking steps to me seem more complex and again, elusive or hard to pin down than most ballet steps overall. They go by so fast in class. Some teachers are not able to explain them well. Or there just is not time even after class for an explanation.....


Thanks!! :nixweiss:

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Hello -- Does anyone -- students, experienced adults, members, etc. have any help with, or comment, as to contretemps or demi-contretemps? (Question above) I've looked online, in many former threads on this site etc. so was not looking for definitions.... Comment on executing this/practicing it would really be appreciated. Thanks.


Regards, Ludmilla

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Hi, I'm sorry no one answered your question sooner. To be honest, I have no idea what a demi-contretemps is, or even why there would be a need for that term. I would not think of contretemps as a temps levé arabesque with a rond de jambe. There is a bit of a rond d jambe action, but the way I think of it is that you brush, say, the right leg to effacé front, and as you jump, the legs pass each other in the air as you change the orientation of the body to bring the left leg to effacé front.


Contretemps would be classified as a linking step, but I encourage you not to think of them as «only» linking steps. If you give them the same attention you'd give any other step in class, you will find that in the long run you will be able to do them more easily and with cleaner technique.

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Thanks very much! This really helps! Ideally, would the feet be in sous-sus in the air as they feet pass eachother? If so that seems to involve jumping fairly high. Or is that not as important? In class I've seen this as part of both grand and petit allegro - for petit allegro it looks more 'terre a terre' and I don't really see -- at least other students -- pointing their feet as they pass in the air..... (again it goes by so quickly - part of the reason it's been difficult to learn...)


I want to practice this to make it as clean as possible, as you mentioned. is there a series of say three steps you might combine this with that go together well?


Is it mainly used as a preparation? Or could it just as well be in the middle of a combination?


Is there a "secret" to making this look graceful? For a seemingly uncomplicated step, I seem to stumble with it - especially at a fast tempo. Your help is much appreciated!

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The feet can come to 5th in the air, but often they simply pass through 1st. I would get comfortable doing it through 1st before adding the beat in 5th. It could be anywhere in a combination. I understand your difficulty when it's done fast. You're zipping along in petit allegro and suddenly there's that direction change! Remember to take the step one leg at a time, and try to use your head to help--that is, look in the direction you want to go. As far as a set of steps, I don't know if I can come up with anything brilliant, but off the top of my head, you might try:


Temps levé arabesque (stepping on the right foot), failli (bringing the left foot front as you land), contretemps (brushing the right leg, then the left so that you're in effacé with the left leg front), and repeat to the other side.


Depending on how comfortable you are with this series of steps, you could also do:


Tombé, pas de bourrée, glissade, contretemps. And repeat to the other side.

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For me a demi-contretemps is a sissone ouverte in cou-de-pied back, going from croise to efface, with a faille through croise. Arms are in middle first position. I usually give it with an assemble over in ecarte devant to end and do several across the floor in a diagonal. Demi-contretremps assemble.


Full contretemps is a much more complicated move consisting of a rond de jambe en dedans followed by a coupe transfer of weight into a small developpe efface front. I teach it terre-a-terre and a jumping version. Usually a tombe or pique movement following the developpe. In the jumping version, I will also give a variation of a straight leg to efface front instead of the small developpe.


I consider these steps to be linking or preparation steps.

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Thanks to you both!! I will review your comments many times, and practice! Your details may answer this already, but one problem I've had (till now, perhaps?) but when I practice and think about this move, it looks virtually no different from a typical pas be basque -- especially if the feet go thru first, a terre.


Is there some simple difference between a usual pas de basque (ie a rond de jambe par terre from a tendue devant - and fondue of the supporting leg - moving from croise devant to efface devant (to face the opposite downstage corner); feet pass through first, on the ground till the formerly supporting leg moves to tendue forward, into croise devant in the new position), and the demi-contretemps? (Again when I do them they look almost the same.) Is there some very definite distinction between them? (Such as: 'This type of pas de basque is par terre/demi-contretemps is "jumped"'?) Otherwise somehow I hardly can see the difference between them......? (I am not happy to admit finding such a seemingly uncomplicated step so..... elusive.) :wallbash:


Sorry - I am actually rushing to class right now, and with this information from you both, things will go better, I expect! But I do need to work on and think about it more. This has been one of those moves for me that I don't see often enough to really grasp yet. (And can't find any example online, etc -- photos of it don't seem to help...) Thanks again so much for these above, and any other comments. Mr. Hans -- Thank you SO MUCH for the combinations! I will practice these (helps so much to put it in 'context' in a series of steps. Temps de cuisse -- Thank you SO MUCH!

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The rond de jambe in the full contretemps is en dedan (start soutenu back, side, front ).

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The rond de jambe being en dedans makes sense..... where does the soutenu come in....? (soutenu........as in a turn sur place?) Not sure I follow this part....... :ermm: ?

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Soutenu can mean "supported" as in legs together, supporting each other. Soutenu entournant is what the turning step you mention in your post is called, Ludmilla. In this this case, you are correct - there is no turning step.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Here is a video of contretemps. I believe this is the step as it is executed in the old RAD Elementary syllabus work. RAD teachers- you may be able to check and see if I am remembering correctly ......


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Here is a video of contretemps. I believe this is the step as it is executed in the old RAD Elementary syllabus work. RAD teachers- you may be able to check and see if I am remembering correctly ......



Yes and no :) If you want to get really technical...


What was demonstrated there was an RAD "Full Contretemps" post 2002. Pre-2002 it used to be executed with a ronds de jambe en dedans en fondus at glisse height, but that was changed to the coupe as displayed. The Full Contretemps includes the ronds de jambe/coupe and the pose temps leve. A contretemps would be just the ronds de jambe or coupe part on its own, and "demi-contretemps" would be essentially a 'hop' with the leg in tendu derriere with a 1/4 turn from croise to ouvert (A la Girls Intermediate 1987 Fouette Saute exercise for those that remember!).


Hope that helps!

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Sorry for the confusion, Ludmilla

I call the action of a tendu with a plie on the support leg a tendu soutenu. Others call it tendu fondu.

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Thanks for further explanation. But I am rather confused --- I don't like to seem "stubborn" but in the video I see what looks to me like a series of saute arabesques ..... finished off with a soutenu turn (as Pas de Quoi had mentioned earlier....?) and there is no rond de jambe (that I can see) - why is that?


And, this doesn't look like the contretemps -- or the demi-contretemps -- I've seen demonstrated in class (at least not entirely....). (I could see, if contretemps is something like pas de basque that has many different versions -- all using the same name....?) .... or maybe I just am not understanding yet, sorry to say.


If the alternating (moving to R then to L...) saute arabesques are the contretemps why don't the definitions in references like Gail Grant's book and others describe it that way.....?


If there is a pre-2002 version, and a post-2002 version that could explain why different instructors use this step differently?


But it may be best if I accept all that is said above because all of it makes sense -- but I can see that in the particular class where this may appear I better be prepared to execute it differently depending on the context. This seems one of those steps that different people or perhaps schools of ballet, may see quite differently.......


Thanks for this discussion because I understand far more about this now than I did before. As I thought, this step has a lot to it -- history -- some evolution perhaps.....


Miss Persistent -- your definitions/explanations especially explaining how a demi-contretemps differs from a full contretemps explain very well. Temps de cuisse - your comments help! I don't know where the tendu fondu comes in to it though..... Did I miss something in the video? At the very beginning as a prep, it does look like that, though but otherwise where was the fondu....?


Or - is "contretemps" a quick, one-word way to describe the "alternating saute arabesques" that I see in the video -- one word that refers to this series of moves consisting of the saute arabesques to R/to L a few times w/ a soutenu turn at the end? (This may be irrelevant, but if that is the case then part of the problem for me is that the name "contretemps" does not sound at all like what the move -- or series of moves -- looks like.) It seems to move w/ a waltz tempo, while the name "sounds" more like something that would be a bit irregular in tempo........"and a 1, and a 2" or something........


Ultimately I need to accept what the move is, and move on -- the name just doesn't to me, sound like what it looks like......(Otherwise in ballet the names to me nearly always sound like what the move looks like.) Come to think of it that is partly -- or largely - why I have such a problem w/ this one. Thank you for the input - I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but it has stumped me for some time...... I'm really glad to hear from all of you in this discussion. -- Ludmilla --

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