Ballet Vocab of the Day: Entrechat Six

Not that we can all be jumping right now, but here is today’s ballet step of the day: Entrechat Six. This wonderful battu or batterie step is for both men and women of the intermediate and above levels. This jump usually is done in both allegro and grand allegro and can be done in petit allegro for the more advanced student. Entrechat six is translated as six crossings, but sometimes we forget how we count crossings in beats. 1 cross = is an opening or a crossing.

Illustrated above are where the six crossings are counted.

There are different ways and different thoughts on how to approach an entrechat six, whether that is based on musicality and phrasing the beats on the way up, or hitting the final beat at the landing if the accent is down. Some teachers will tell you to just squeeze the buttocks and legs as tight as you can and you will hit the six, while others might say do an entrechat quatre, and close back. Different strokes for different folks… When I teach entrechat six, I really emphasize the second beat and make sure you SUPER over cross the thighs and then let the legs kind of unwind the tension to create the beats. Again, different ways for different people. But here are some things to look out for, regardless of how you are taught to phrase the beat to accomplish it:

  1. DO NOT BEAT YOUR ANKLES…. oof it is the worst to watch and hear. If you are beating your ankles you aren’t really jumping, and most likely are using your quads. Epic fails. It is also just really poor technique.
  2. DO NOT MOVE YOUR HIPS… another thing to look out for is to move your hips while attempting the beats. Your pelvis should be stabilized because you are turning out both hips equally, and the core is pulled up letting the tail bone pointe down and the pubic bone stays forward-facing.
  3. DO NOT SWING YOUR LEGS… if you don’t over cross your tendus/degagé/jeté, or just keep the tendu crossed, you might have a tendency to open your legs at the diagonal when beating, this makes for small little rond de jambe like beats, which are also wrong and outer quad heavy. Plus, you will look like you are swimming/flailing and kicking instead of beating.
  4. USE YOUR CORE. Make sure the core is engaged and not squeezed. Do not squeeze your abs but keep them pressed, or scooped back into your spine. This will ensure that you take off/jump straight up.
  5. STAY IN PLIÉ… make sure you stay in plié as long as you can by constantly pushing down into the floor so you have the most kinetic energy built up. This allows you to spring up and create ballon.

Date Posted: April 7, 2020

Here is étoile at the Paris Opera, Hugo Marchand doing the most amazing Giselle sixes ever.

Daily Ballet Vocab: Temps de Poisson

Our daily ballet vocabulary lesson with A Ballet Education: April 3, 2020

Temps de Poisson or Pas De Poisson or Sissone Soubresaut, or Temps Collé are all names for this difficult step. While back in the day it was a step of reserved for men, we are now progressive feminists and don’t discriminate steps via gender. Temps de poisson means time of the fish, whlie pas de poisson means step of the fish. While we can debate what school of thought (pedagogy) names what steps, it is more important to talk about the technique behind the step.

This step commonly shares a lot of the ideas and facings with sissone faille. For example, the step starts in croisé, but the position in the air would be effacé, while landing in a fourth croisé. The difference is going to be what the legs actually do in the air. While sissone faille (a very common step in ballet class), focuses on the legs splitting apart, temps de poisson focuses on to keep the legs glued together (like a soubresaut, hence the name) in a tight fifth position in effacé. Now stylistically, people get fancy and focus on the lean back or really shaping the arch of the position, or even the shape of the arms.

THINGS TO FOCUS ON:
DO NOT BEND YOUR KNEES IN THE POSITION! If you bend your knees or a single knee, it is a different step.

I like to encourage staying in the plié before take off for as long as possible so you can really push into the position.

Like an airplane take off, make sure you are on taking off moving forwards, and never backwards or arching too soon.

Keep the arms relaxed so you don’t look snazzy.

Grab a temps de poisson fat panda sticker for $5 – Click the image below.

COVID-19 QUARANTINE (Week 3 for Arizona)

Daily Ballet Vocab: Tendu Pour le Pied

Daily Ballet Vocabulary: Tendu Pour Le Pied

Battement Tendu Relevé (battement stretched and raised) or Battement Tendu Pour le Pied (Battement stretch for the foot) or Tendu Pour le Pied (tendu for the foot):

This is one of my favorite steps to give as a teacher, it really helps develop the foot in every capacity. It works the instep, it works the actual shape of the pointed foot, it works the articulation it works just about everything, and it is a killer for the inner thighs. Don’t confuse this with double tendu because it is not the same. Well, unless you are Soviet-Vaganova trained, then it is the same thing. This step can be done to the front or back, but most commonly it is done to the side or in a la seconde, and it can also be done with dégagé. Okay, let’s just get to it and break down this step:

  1. Starting in fifth position, the working leg will brush to second with a strong tendu position. 
  2. Then, using the instep and the inner thigh, you will lower the heel forward as far as you can by rotating from the inner thigh. The minute the heel touches you will spring the instep and the toes back to a super strong pointed foot.
  3. You can double it up, which means you will drop the heel twice before closing fifth. Usually when closing, you will close opposite of where you started. So if you did the tendu starting with the right leg in front, it will usually finish back.

When I teach I use this step a lot because it teaches the kids to lower with their heel fully forward, and that I can see how much natural rotation a student has right away. I also like to give this step a lot in “pre-pointe” class so that students are able to work the foot and toes quite a bit. Finally, I love to give this step because it is such a nice way to really feel the inner thighs connect as you lower; maintaining the rotation on both the working and supporting leg at all times. 

Things to look out for:

Don’t force the ankle forward by pushing weight into it. You are going to want to make sure that the weight stays on the supporting leg.

To the side the working hip will slightly drop while the supporting leg works double time.

If you do this step to the front and back, there might be loss of a neutral pelvis for those dancers who aren’t strong enough to rotate on two legs, so avoid giving this to young dancers. 

Maintain that the weight stays over the supporting foot to make the working leg the longest and the most beautiful shape possible.