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Ballet Terminology - words mean things...sorta


Anjuli_Bai
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Thoughts about terminology...............

 

Degagé is often used in (but not limited to)  the USA as opposed to glissé which is not as widely used.  It is a battement in which the foot fully extends out much like a tendue - except that it leaves the floor for about two inches and is often done at a fairly quick tempo.

 

"Posé" is a term to describe stepping out onto demi-pointe (or full pointe) into a pose such as arabesque or into a en dedans  turn.  It is used by Cecchetti School and thus, I believe, became part of the RAD terminology.

 

In most non-syllabus schools in the USA - the term "piqué" is used rather than "posé."  Piqué means "pricked."  Though one might think it always means "stepping out" such as into an arabesque or turn - that is not so.  It can also be done as "degagé/glisse" in which the foot fully extends, lifts two inches off the floor, quickly flicks back down to touch the floor, rising again to two inches off the floor and then back to original position (1st, 2nd, 5th, etc.)

 

What are commonly called "lame ducks" (a most unballetic term)   is really a  "piqué/posé tour en dehors.

 

What in the USA is commonly called a "tour jeté" has many different expressions: 

 

French school - grand jeté dessus en tournant and jeté dessus en tournant, grand.

 

Cecchetti - Jeté en tournant en arriére, grand

 

Russian School: Jeté entrelacé.

 

I was taught that the full name is "grand jeté entournant entrelacé"

 

No wonder we shorten it to "tour jeté” !!!

 

Another term often used interchangeably is "passé and "retiré" - when actually they are different.  A "passé" is a "retiré" which when the moving foot rises up the supporting leg passes to the other side of the knee (if it came up from the front it then passes to the back and vice versa.

 

What is the difference between a "tour" and a "pirouette"?  Any turn is a tour (a turning of the body) whilst a "pirouette" is a tour sur la place.  A pirouette covers no space - essentially beginning which it started.

 

If anyone is still reading this.....I congratulate you!

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Still am thanks Anjuli

On another thread have just this minute attempted to describe a lame duck to someone......attempting which I fell over in class yesterday. They are a bit trickier than a straight pose or pique turn!

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The easiest way I found to remember it is:

 

In piqué tour en dehors - first step is to a flat foot, second  step to a demi-point...so say to yourself  ...."flat, toe, flat, toe

 

In piqué tour endedans - first step is to a demi-point and next step is flat...so say to yourself ......toe, flat, toe, flat

 

What is really fun is to do them in sequence -- changing one to the other - every other time.....at a blazing tempo.

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If anyone is still reading this.....I congratulate you!

Not only still reading but very interested too... Thank you Anjuli!

 

Of course, I have an advantage with the words because they actually mean something to me and help understand the steps!

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I always enjoy the mixing of language in ballet class. We always hear "glissade under" and "glissade over" but almost never "glissade dessous" and "glissade dessus". I fully understand why this is. I had one teacher who used the French terms; she was Russian and her pronunciation was impeccable, so we never got confused. (OK so we did sometimes, but it was our fault!) Stranger is "demi plies" and "full plies" (sometimes "grand plies") but we always hear "grand battement". I've also never heard the French used for the positions, so we get “fourth ferme” and “fourth ouvert”.  I guess I need to go to France and take some classes there; I wonder how I would cope?


 


Of course, even more confusing is when I used to do Cecchetti and RAD, which have different names for the position of the arms (amongst other things).


 


Still, I only play at ballet, so it doesn't matter if I mess up a step (which I often do...)


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Many many moons ago when I was still dancing, I tried a ballet class in Australia... The teacher's pronunciation was SO bad that I had absolutely no idea what she was telling us to do! It was one of the strangest hour of my life! And I never went back...

 

Now I got used to it and I can do a pretty bad pronunciation of ballet terms myself... A great achievement! At least my DDs think it is hilarious...

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The differing terms used teacher to teacher, methodology to methodology, for the same steps always fascinates me. It can cause a fair bit of confusion in open classes! :)

 

To add another one to the mix, my French teacher always calls lame ducks 'tombe tours'. I had never heard that one elsewhere.

 

I have always also wondered why we use the term 'a la seconde', i would have thought the French was 'a la deuxieme'. Is this a French-anglo hybrid term, or would you use the term 'a la seconde' in French?

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One of my favorite steps is "tire-bouchon."

 

Now that's one you don't hear very often :) Am I right in thinking it means 'corkscrew'? I must confess although I have done it in open class I am not completely sure what it is. Could you explain, Anjuli?

 

I have one teacher who refers to cou-de-pied position as 'the coupe', even when a coupe movement is not involved. I found that confusing to begin with.

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Now that's one you don't hear very often :) Am I right in thinking it means 'corkscrew'? I must confess although I have done it in open class I am not completely sure what it is. Could you explain, Anjuli?

 

I have one teacher who refers to cou-de-pied position as 'the coupe', even when a coupe movement is not involved. I found that confusing to begin with.

 

It does mean "corkscrew."   An example of it is if you are executing a pirouette with the toe of the lifted leg is at the knee of the supporting leg and during the turn that lifted leg descends down the supporting leg in pace with the timing of the pirouete.

 

It is fairly common for the term "cou-de-pied" to be shortened to "coupé" which of course is not the same thing.  "Coupé" is a movement - one foot cutting under the other -  usually begun with an initiating glissade (slide/glide) and the seond foot cutting under the lead gliding foot and replacing it.

 

 

The full term as I learned it is "sur le cou-de-pied" - "on the neck of the foot".  It is not a movement but describs the shaping of one foot and it's placement upon the other - wrapped around at the ankle. "   When it is done with the lifted foot to the front of the supporting leg - the heel of the lifted foot is in front and the toes wrapping around to the back of the suppoting foot.  When it is done to the back of the supporting foot, the lifted foot retains the same shape - but it is simply placed behind the supporting leg - thus only the heel of that shaped foot would be touching the ankle of the supporting leg.

 

Hope that is slightly clearer than mud. :)

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Yes that is clearer, Anjuli, thanks so much for explaining, that's really helpful.

 

The tir-bouchon I encountered was during an adagio, I can't remember the exercise now, but I guess there must have been a rotation or pivot where the leg worked its way from the passe/retire down the leg in time with the rotation. I just remember the teacher marking it and I copied her movement without knowing which particular 'step' or 'movement' she was referring to as 'tir-bouchon'.

 

And thanks for the cou de pied clarification :) You describe it so beautifully!

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Another couple of terms for you - The RAD have two types of 'temps lie', one of which could be easily called a pose en avant into 5th position on demi pointe! Having only studied RAD and Imperial (ISTD) but spent time teaching in the USA I think that this is unique to the RAD but I may be wrong. 

 

Interestingly, the debate between battement glisse/degage rages on; the RAD term a 'degage' to be a battement tendu devant without closing back to the starting position (hence disengaged). The Royal Ballet School system of training call the battement glisse/degage movement a battement jete (!) which the RAD describe as higher than the glisse, at 45 degrees, with the accent 'out', and a very slight feeling of holding the leg out before closing again. What the RAD call a 'battement lent' (slow beat), the RBS call a 'releve lent' (slow lift).

 

And the final one that crept into the ISTD syllabus in the last few years is the term 'Failli'.... The easiest way of explaining that is like a demi contretemps but taking off two feet. So essentially a soubresaut or sissonne ordinaire (derriere) take-off followed by a chasse passe en avant!

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Another couple of terms for you - The RAD have two types of 'temps lie', one of which could be easily called a pose en avant into 5th position on demi pointe! Having only studied RAD and Imperial (ISTD) but spent time teaching in the USA I think that this is unique to the RAD but I may be wrong. 

 

Interestingly, the debate between battement glisse/degage rages on; the RAD term a 'degage' to be a battement tendu devant without closing back to the starting position (hence disengaged). The Royal Ballet School system of training call the battement glisse/degage movement a battement jete (!) which the RAD describe as higher than the glisse, at 45 degrees, with the accent 'out', and a very slight feeling of holding the leg out before closing again. What the RAD call a 'battement lent' (slow beat), the RBS call a 'releve lent' (slow lift).

 

And the final one that crept into the ISTD syllabus in the last few years is the term 'Failli'.... The easiest way of explaining that is like a demi contretemps but taking off two feet. So essentially a soubresaut or sissonne ordinaire (derriere) take-off followed by a chasse passe en avant!

 

 

Temps lié is used in several ways in the USA - feet in 5th, a small (spring) jump (feet still in 5th) and then front foot falls forward into a broad 4th.  It can also be done without the jump and then falling forward.  It is also used to describe: feet in 5th, small spring upward (feet still in 5th), landing in the same place, but one foot raised off the ground on the ankle of the other foot.  In other words its a small spring from 2 feet and landing on one foot - sur la place.

 

Failli here means to fall forward into a broad 4th foot coming from behind.  Example - step into piqué arabesqie amd then the lifted arabesque leg comes down annd sweeps forward through 1st position to fall forward into a broad 4th..

 

Tombé - is used to describe a falling forward from demi-point.

 

As for the rest - I'm not going to get between RAD and ISTD!

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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I spend my life explaining to children that a pose temps leve in arabesque is not a sissone and is therefore NOT a jump from two feet, and then the Russians call it a sissone :( . I gather it's short for a longer term in Vaganova speak, but it never fails to irritate me! The other thing I hate is when my students ask if something is on a releve (meaning on demi-pointe) and I have to explain for the umpteenth time that a releve is a movement not a position.

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I spend my life explaining to children that a pose temps leve in arabesque is not a sissone and is therefore NOT a jump from two feet, and then the Russians call it a sissone :( . I gather it's short for a longer term in Vaganova speak, but it never fails to irritate me! The other thing I hate is when my students ask if something is on a releve (meaning on demi-pointe) and I have to explain for the umpteenth time that a releve is a movement not a position.

 

In Cecchetti they do use relevé and elevé.  The first is a spring only demi-or full pointe.  The second is a rise (no spring) to demi or full pointe.

 

Speaking of Russian/Vaganova.....there is a pre-Vaganova "speak" too - and then, of course, Bolshoi speak.

 

Many older dancers (like moi) were taught by the pre-Vaganova dancers - the original Ballet Russe/Diagelev dancers who retired here.  They "knew not Joseph."

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When I attended ballet classes in France the other girls asked me afterwards how I understood what steps to do, turns out they hasn't realised ballet is taught in French the world over!!

 

There can be quite a few differences in terminology but if 1 teacher gave 2 different dancers from different backgrounds a dance, verbally only, I reckon around 80% of the dance would still look the same and that's really quite impressive!

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When I attended ballet classes in France the other girls asked me afterwards how I understood what steps to do, turns out they hasn't realised ballet is taught in French the world over!!

 

There can be quite a few differences in terminology but if 1 teacher gave 2 different dancers from different backgrounds a dance, verbally only, I reckon around 80% of the dance would still look the same and that's really quite impressive!

 

I am mucho (a little Spanish thrown into the mix) surprised that the French girls wouldn't know that the language of the ballet is in French.  There is an entire history of why that is so and I would think they would be taught it.  I always told my students about that history.  One can't know - truly know - about something unless that includes the history from whence it cameth. 

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So, suppose you wanted to put together both turns:  piqué tour en dedans and piqué tour en dehors (lame ducks) - how would you do that?

 

Remember:

 

 

In piqué tour en dehors - first step is to a flat foot, second  step to a demi-pointe...so say to yourself  ...."flat, toe, flat, toe

 

In piqué tour endedans - first step is to a demi-pointe and next step is flat...so say to yourself ......toe, flat, toe, flat

 

 

 

In going from piqué en dehors (lame ducks) to piqué en dedans, you say to yourself:

 

flat, toe, then drop down from that toe to a flat foot into fondu, toe, flat

 

 

 

 

In going from piqué en dedans to piqué en dehors (lame ducks), you say to yourself:

toe, flat, flat, toe

 

 

Add  in a few chainé tours, a few tours in 5th (piqué detourné tours) and enjoy!!

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Anjuli - what I meant was that both a releve and a rise or eleve are movements, the first with a plie, the second without, that move up onto the demi or full pointe - neither term describes a static position.  However, many teachers and students use the term releve for the actual state of being on demi or full pointe and not for the movement to get there.  Do you get what I mean????  I know it's a bit of a convoluted explanation :)

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This is quite reassuring for me to read so thank you- I'm sure some of these variations have confused me at times and I always assumed it was just me forgetting the terminology rather than realising a different term was being used!

 

Disclaimer - probably sometimes it was just me...

 

:-)

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