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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Your Favorite Tips For Learning Assemble


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I am a 63 year old student of beginning ballet.  I took my first class Oct 2019, and feel greatly challenged to learn and develop the coordination, strength, technique, etc etc for assemble.  Just for accuracy, my best description of the desired outcome in our studio is to begin on two feet, plie, back leg low degage a la second, close en l'aire and pose suspended with feet together in fifth with working leg in front, and land on two feet in plie, then "rinse and repeat!" as they say.  

When you were learning this simple jump what were some of the coaching tips that helped you put it all together?  Thanks for sharing!

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There's many ways to attack assemblé, and rest assured, you're not alone in struggling!  I can give you two concepts to work on that I use when I teach my students:

1) Soubrasauts!!!  Plié 5th, JUMP, bringing the legs tight together in the air so that it looks like one leg, then land in a beautiful plié.  When you take it into assemblé, you're looking to feel those legs squeezing together just like that--and I also like to think FIFTH fifth in my mind, which was my own teacher's cue--fifth in the air, fifth on the ground.

2) not everyone teaches this, but I like the use of the quarter plié for assemblés.  Plié on two feet halfway to demi (so, quarter), as you continue down to demi, you start the brush, finish the brush as you start the jump, bring everything together at the height of the jump in 5th, then land two feet plié 5th.  This works for me, and I have a VERY short demi-plié.  

I like to work on 6/8s when I'm trying to create a roundness to jumps.  I personally find 3/4s a little much for assemblés, especially in the beginning, and the extra beat of the 6/8 (or 3/4 for that matter) gives you a little extra time, more than a duple time piece would. (up-up-down rather then up-down)

I hope this helps!!!

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Miss Persistent

I very much agree with ASC about the use of quarter plie.  The most difficult thing with assemble is the co-ordination, and then also having the strength to jump from one leg which is not easy!  I would try practicing at the barre to give you a bit more "oomph!" in the jump and also time in the air to get the correct co-ordination.

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It would be useful to practice first without a jump, facing the barre. Start with assemblé over, extending the back leg. I teach that the extension brushes to the side immediately as the supporting leg goes into demi plié, so the brushing leg stays straight, like the  beginning of a glissade. Then close in front with a sharp relevé to demi pointe and hold in 5th.  Lower the heels and step back a little so you can continue with the other leg. You will travel towards the barre. When you are happy with the demi pointe version do it with the jump.

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As an (eternal) student, I have to think about moving my pelvis and torso properly in this jump when we do it as part of a bigger allegro exercise (when it travels more) shifting towards the gesturing leg. But when we're doing it as part of petit allegro, I have to think of going up up up, rather than along. It's one of those steps that's harder to learn than to do, in my experience - but it needs a lot of power, even to do in petit allegro. That is probably just me ...

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The focus is quite different depending on whether the assemblé is in petit allegro or grand allegro. In petit allegro the brushed leg is brought in to join the leg that is jumping. The body goes straight up in the air. A useful combination is assemblé, soubresaut,  stretch the knees and then go into demi plié to do it with the other foot.  In grand allegro it is the jumping leg which pushes off strongly and catches up with brushed leg and it does need a well lifted pelvis and core strength to travel well.

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Thanks so much for the comments ASC, MissP, Red and Double.  I will be deploying your exercises a few times a week, for a few weeks in a row and hope repetition, repetition, repetition will help  develop the feel and leg strength I need.  It seems that  the leg strength should already be there, but the muscles just don't quite seem to "get it."  Maybe this is part of why I find ballet so enjoyable.  There are SO MANY challenges and SO MANY little steps to celebrate when you can accomplish them.  Thank you again for being so generous with your suggestions.  M

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