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The difference between pas de valse and balance?


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The discussion about pas de valse and balance got me thinking and I found a gaping hole in the structured index of ballet steps in my head. ;)


I've always sort of grouped both of these two under the heading "three steps, first in plie, watch and then imitate the teacher", without differentiating between them. Seems to have been a faulty approach, since now I'm not exactly sure how they go and what is the difference. Gretchen Ward Warren seems to group them together, too.


What, exactly, is the differing characteristic between pas de valse and balance? Is it in technical execution, or feeling? Is there one? Are the terms interchangeable? Are the terms interchangeable in some schools, but not in others? Or is balance simply just called pas de valse when done to a walz? :confused:


There seem to be several versions of each.

What are the most common versions of both in choreography?



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Pas de valse is done without much of any turnout, and a "down-up-up" configuration. Balancé can be done with or with out much turnout and takes a "down-up-down" form. As Jeanette correctly pointed out, the latter also has the feet cross over one another, in order to make the "up" a sort of coupé action.:)


Of course, just to make life more interesting, there's also a character balancé that's done without the feet crossing over...;)

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My teacher has been making balances more interesting of late by having the men do a little hop between the steps, almost a glissade into the balance. Once we got that down, she made sure our toes were curled under, with the tops of the toes touching the floor in a coupe like position. It's harder to master but it looks neat when done right. She says this is the proper way for men to do a balance.


By the way, anyone know how to make those accents over the "e" on a Mac?

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I only know them as "alt" characters - alt 130=é, alt 138=è, but maybe that only works for PCs?

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Thank you, Major Johnson, that clarified it quit a bit.


However, I still have one question left. How can I do a pas de valse sidewards without crossing my feet? :confused:



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Easy! Just like character dancers and some ballroom dancers. In this kind of pas de valse, you are basically in sixth (first neutral) position, and let's say you want to go to the right; tombe on the right foot, bring the left foot to it and step on it on quarter-pointe, then on the right again, this time on quarter-pointe, NOW! turning UPSTAGE, step across with the left foot, and do the same thing, and continue until you run out of space, alternating right and left, facing downstage and upstage alternately, respectively.:) In this case, it's absolutely indentical to a balancé en tournant de coté, as a pas de valse is essentially a running step.

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I think I see it now. So, turning is a part of pas de valse but not necessarily part of balance, right?


(That would explain why we've never done it that way - not that we have been doing balances or pas de valses much. :) )



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Right, Paivi. The pas de valse really has to turn, but the balancé can turn, or not. It can even be used by choreographers as a sort of "vamp until ready" like a left hand on the piano, especially with corps work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doesn't a Balance Alternate left and right while a Valse goes in the same direction?


We did a traditional polka in partnering class last night, Typically this means it may be included in the spring performance. What ballets might include a Polka? Vienna Woods? Grad ball? The Polka only works well in a circle, most studios are too small to do it on the diagnal.



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These are movements en tournant, and they can go anywhere, even around in a circle. It's impossible to do a series of balancés only to the right, or any step, for that matter, without a linking movement inbetween. Pas de valse alternates feet, first leading with one foot on the tombé, then the other foot.


The Polka is basically a balancé and a temps levé, and can be found in classical variations in Coppelia, and Swan Lake (in both cases en pointe).

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