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Teaching A Difficult Ballet Movement In Early Levels of Ballet Class

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:21pm
Every ballet exercise is geared toward an advanced difficult movement. The finer details can be taught in early levels, which will develop the muscle memory and build strength for the later advanced movement. Also, some adagio in the center can be taught wearing pointe shoes, even if no movement onto pointe is included. This gets the students used to standing, balancing, and shifting the weight, in pointe shoes, which requires finer tuning of the ankle and foot muscles, and more strength in the core and legs.

Fouette is the French ballet word for "whipped", describing a quality of movement that has different variations. Fouette is also done in adage, the slow motion version of movements in ballet training.

The finer details of movement in fouette for adage exercises, with full leg extensions, can be prepared for at the barre early on in training. Put the change to the other side into any ballet barre exercise, by tendu derriere, of the inside leg, fouette en dedans to face the barre, and fouette again to face the other side and close, and you are ready to start the exercise on the second side. (you can stop to shake the legs out and stretch a little, or just keep going, depending on the length of the exercise.)

In breaking down the fouette in adage, emphasize the en dehors (turning away from the working leg) movement of the supporting leg, turning out to change the position of the foot on the floor, and the rest of the body following into the next position.

En dedans, turning toward the supporting leg, the supporting leg again leads the change, and the working side adjusts to the next position.

The assumption is that that each position, front, side and back, is already strong and stable. For example, if your students (or you, the student) can do a developpe en croix, and lift the heel and lower easily, in each fully extended position, that is the first movement to starting the fouette - an easy transfer of weight to move the leg and body.

You can also execute the movement in the center with the leg in tendu position, or just off the floor, until you get a smooth transition of the supporting leg/torso muscles, for correct hip placement.

A class exercise could be: developpe or slow leg raise to whichever height is appropriate for the level, devant, slow fouette, one quarter turn, to a la seconde, and close. Developpe or slow leg raise to a la seconde, and slow fouette one quarter turn, to arabesque, and close. You can now turn back the same way, using the same leg, developpe arabesque and fouette en dedans to a la seconde, and then from al la seconde to devant, or you could change legs and keep going the same way, with a developpe to arabesque and quarter turn toward the leg to a la seconde, and again, developpe a la seconde and one quarter turn to devant, you are now facing front again.

When your adage fouette movements are strong, you know that you can now do a good fouette saute. And to test your strength further, do fouette at the barre on full pointe, full developpe, lifting your hands off the barre at each stage of movement.

The Perfect Pointe Book gives all the basics in building strength, for much more than pointe work.
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