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I have been asked to dance a shortened version of SL for a charity performance, White acts only. Coming out of ‘retirement’ from freelancing etc after having a child. 

I am having to do lots of work on my own (not ideal I know) and am struggling with the first step in the solo (ronds to developee), any tips? Every time I do it, I seem to have a different problem. Mainly I think one of weight imbalance but I just seem to crash land out of the step. Or has anyone ever substituted this with something else(much as it would pain me to do so)?

Also does anyone know what the ‘original’ entrance choreography is? As in odette’s first entrance before the mime. There seem to be many variations. 

Finally what is your favourite daily exercise to build up strength particularly for the poor left foot which is going to have to bear a lot of the strain during the pas. 


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I assume you are back taking a class or two weekly yes? The best strengthening and conditioning for a dancer is dance class.

By “foot strength” do you mean more like toe strength or ankle strength? I sprained my toe a few months ago and it was terrible for my balance. The exercises I was given were to pick things up with my toe (like marbles and other small ######) as well as scrunching up a theraband that had been laid flat on the floor. The scrunching I had to do from all different angles: pulling it toward me, moving it left to right, etc, and I had to do it for the entire length of the theraband. Good for toe strength specifically, not quite sure if it counts as “foot” strength.

As for the ronds, you could do a really pretty petit develope to the floor and just focus on the beautiful bird like port de bras (we are taking about the same part right?). Sure it’s not nearly as cool but it could give the same “flying” effect and I’m sure you will feel 100% confident you won’t fall out of it. Besides, if it’s a charity event you might not have much time to warm up anyways, so it’s always nice to be able to play it safe. And of course you could always just do a develop without the rdj.

Can’t help you personally on which is the original classical miming but I always thing that pre-1980s Kirov (now Mariinsky) is a safe bet. 

Merde! I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun😊

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Thanks so much. Yes to the classes but the show is away from my home town and so is the director putting it on so very little coaching! I suppose more ankle rather than toe strength but need both so will add the scrunchies to my list.

Good point I could do that (yes the bit I was asking about) and then it is the choreography for Odette’s first entrance so for example the latest royal ballet version has her running in and doing a jete to land before a series of arabesques (prior to Seigfrieds arrival). But my jete is not that wonderful anymore!

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Be sure that you are keeping your chest slightly forward of your waist as well as your arms. If you pull back while lifting, your weight will be too far back for you to finish in 4th. From the front you cannot tell that the body is slightly forward (actually this holds true in almost anything). If you can time the coordination of lifting the leg and arm at exactly the same time you roll through to pointe, it requires a little less strength. The arms and legs should help you in the releve. It is a very difficult variation. Also note that it isn’t a grand battement but a relevé lent, so the leg doesn’t kick but lifts slowly through the music. That should also help in keeping the upper body slightly forward of the hips.  

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Fraildove thank you very much, that is really helpful. Any other tips like for example dealing with the combination after the sissones? It seems some people releve as the working leg comes into retire, and others as the working leg extends out into arabesque.

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I always danced it with the relevé happening as the leg was drawing into phase. This also helped, with the upward movement of the leg and body giving momentum to the releve as well as helped with the balance and counter balance of opening the leg to arabesque. The movement, in my opinion looks more fluid timed with the entire movement moving upwards at the same time. Again, keep the body forward, especially when extending to arabesque. Keep the lower abs lifted and don’t pull the upper back into the back leg otherwise it pinched the line. Hope that makes sense

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Fabulous thank you! For the first entrance (before the mime) did you do a run and then a jete before the arabesque, cambre, port des bras combination? Thanks 

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I didn’t run. It was 5 or 6 pique steps to pointe and rolling through the foot, arabesque then chase to saut de chat finishing in a grand port de bras (lunge I guess). 

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Ok that sounds good, will have a go if that is ok? The jete just feels a bit like a crash and not like a graceful swan landing. 

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I'm a bit confused because the entrance doesn't have any sissones that I can recall. It has some relève attitude derrieres that can be difficult. Im thinking of the entrance being a series of bourrées, walks on pointe, pique arabesque followed by a chassé saut de chat (grande jeté to some). It's also done with Siegfried following you around like a relentless puppy 

When I stopped dancing for a long while, saut de chat was stupid difficult for me too, and it was frustrating because it's really just a coordination that my body had forgotten, it took me a while to get back into the groove of it, but once you re-learn that coordination, it won't be crash-landing at all, don't worry! Just go off on your own to a quiet studio and keep chassé saut de chat-ing until your body gets it. Next subject...

I THINK you're talking about the Odette variation with all her swan friends after the pas de deux. That has a series of sissones as well as a series of relevé lent passe retiré into arabesque derriere. If that's the variation you're talking about, then remember that the upsweep of the working leg, as well as the arm, is the impetus to help you onto pointe while your working leg moves through retire towards the back. Yes, it's true that it very much is NOT a grande battement, but I like to think that it can be given a bit more motivation and momentum to help you up onto pointe. Maybe I'm cheating, but that's how I approach it hahaha!! 

It's a crazy difficult variation. I avoided it at all costs... Even at my best I looked like I was flailing during the series of doubles up to développé seconde. :(

P.S. When you say original, I would recommend you watch the Mariinsky or Bolshoi, as Swan Lake was originated in Russia. I always think of Petipa as the original (Petipa/Ivanov as they worked closely together), but an academic could probably trace the true true true origins to either what's his name Reissinger or something (I can't recall), or to only Ivanov himself... But the fact of the matter is, Petipa/Ivanov are probably the most established, known and preserved. 

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I read it as talking of the variation and the. Separately the entrance. And I agree, no matter how I was dancing I always felt such a struggle with Odette’s variation. It usually looked fine from the audience’s perspective but I felt anything but graceful 🤣.  I mentioned it not being a grand battement because lately I’ve seen so many dancers literally kick the leg up with force, completely ruining the sequence visually as well as musically. The entire variation, in my opinion, is a study in coordination: arms, back, and legs. They must work in unison or the variation is usually a disaster, as I am sure you know. I couldn’t imagine having to prepare the entire white acts with no coaching, even after dancing it many times. 


SL2019, i was coaches in this ballet by former Kirov (now Mariinsky) ballerinas. I was very, very lucky to have had their guidance. If you watch the Mariinsky’s production you can see the opening steps as I was taught them. The saut de chat is definitely done as a large jump but is done with softness and control. As you land on the right foot, the left immediately sweeps through to start the port de bras/lunge with no extra steps. The jump must travel more upwards than outwards in order to control the landing. I always looked at it as Odette’s connection to still being able to fly as a swan. 

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Frail Dove, I think this variation is both the bane and goal of so many dancers... And while that développé section CAN feel spasmodic (in my case, actually spasmodic hahahaha), when you see that controlled leg lift to graze the sky, it's just absolutely glorious! It will be forever a distant dream for me. Hashtag dream goals. 😆

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Thanks so so much, also for interpreting what I meant. Yes completely right on all scores. I was talking about Odette’s first entrance (followed often by the mime sequence) and then the solo with the ronds and releve lent to start. I also so much feel the weight of all who have gone before me doing this solo. Far more nerve wracking than the pdd. I also need to recover some back flexibility too 😓

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