They say, when it comes to a professional dancer, that you can tell how talented a dancer is based on their connecting steps. Some say the petit allegro is the tell-all of a dancer, but when it comes to ballet these days, we often get caught up in pirouettes, hypermobility and flexibility, and what is “on-trend.” We often forget that the base of ballet is built on walking patterns, the tempos and phrasing around these walking patterns, and how the walking patterns are executed.
When it comes to the connecting steps of ballet, one of the first major things to accomplish is chassé (Cecchetti method). Not to be confused with chassé en avant (French school).
Translation: chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series, and in all of the directions making a total of seven actions.
Chassé is the first time a dancer really starts to “use the floor” and travel at barre and center. It also doesn’t come off the floor, so we don’t have to worry about the foot being fully stretched, or all of the other things that can go wrong. Chassé lets us focus on presenting the heel while still on the floor, transfer our weight, and elongate the legs.
NOTES ON CHASSÉ
- Start in a super clean and a lifted fifth position.
- For me, I like to place the head over the shoulder as the dance pliés, knees over the toes, and arms slightly lifted. The weight is still equally placed over the balls of the feet.
- Pressing the right heel forward, the weight is even between two feet, but the motion is set by the back foot putting pressure into the floor and pushing the front foot out. The more pressure you can put into the feet, the stronger and cleaner the position will be and there will be less chance of rolling, supination.
- Transferring the weight by the back foot’s pad or the ballet of the foot, and the arch stretching. This shifts all the weight into the front leg, and the dancer’s head starts to present. I think the important thing in this position is to make sure that the knees still remain over the toes and that the legs are evenly rotated and working.
- Finally, with no weight on the back leg, the front leg fully stretches in a turned out position.