Known for those insane sissones with that insane cambré back and attitude position or as contemporary dancers call them firebirds, Kitri Act I was made for the “jumping girl”. Commonly used at competition, this show-off, bravura variation gets the audience going. The reason? First, it is one of the few bravura variations for women (meaning its all turns and jumps), and secondly because the impressiveness of the technique. What most people forget, that as impressive as the jump is, or the turns, none of it matters if you aren’t turned out. Secondly, this variation has to have a lot of power, with control or else you will just look like a bull in a china shop. Thirdly, you have to embrace the spiciness of the character, which allows the port de bras to not be in classical positions… meaning style trumps classicism in the upper body.
Okay, so lets begin breaking down this variation. The opening… the castanets call for quickly turned out runs. Personally, I like it when the runs are in side profile back, so the audience sees your back and then the slightest face and smirk, and then on the jump in second, give a little spice and attack.
The opening step involves a pas de chat, a battement, and either a step over or fouetté, clean precisicions and a strong jeté in attitude, or not, or even an italian/grand pas de chat. This combination is not only fast, but it has to be precise and dead on with the music.
-In the pas de chat, make sure we see the full diamond at the height of the jump. Don’t turn in the second leg to compensate for the battement.
-Turn out the working leg in grand battement and make sure you are as flat to the audience as possible to give your body the longest line. Keep the shoulders down and head inclined slightly back to keep with the Spanish style.
-Control the come down of the working leg.
-If you are going to do a step-over make sure you turn out completely side profile/ de côte to show your heel. If you are going to do the fouetté, turn out the tombé completely in croisé and give yourself a port de bras that allows you to really get a good clean whip.
-For the runs en pointe, TRAVEL and pick your knees up, it makes it spicy.
The next sequence of steps involves that crazy sissone, and to achieve accuracy in the position, you want to make sure you get a good pop at the top. If you are going to do the double rond de jambe, make sure you are in effacé, and really get the accent out. If you are going to the attitudes, make sure each step in between is turned out.
-To get a good jump, relax your heels on the ground and build the energy from the bottom of the plié through the back of your leg.
-Make sure you don’t bend into attitude too soon, wait till you are the highest point to fold into the position.
-Land fully turned out…
The final section of this variations is the diagonal of traveling pirouettes from fifth. Make them spicy, and I prefer the accent up… and stay up. I also like it when you start with a double lame duck to give yourself momentum. This is where you can add doubles, port de bras and many other “tricks” to make the variation more exciting. The most important thing is that you hit a clean, relaxed and turnout position every time. PET PEEVE: don’t had fouettés….
Finally for the ending, you usually do an attitude and hold it… then run off… I like the attitude and then step through and take a knee. This is better for competition so you can bow.
For the more advance student: Besides the turnout being most important… make sure you you understand what lines look best on your body. In this variation, because of the quickness, the lines has to be so clear and so precise… if not, you look like you are flailing around. Another thing you need to pay attention to- eye contact with the audience without compromising the neckline. A lot of dancers interpret spicy as chin down and eyes up… making them have double chin…
For everyone: Because of the speed you have to have quick and strong footwork. You should never sickle, and your feet should point like daggers.
COSTUMING… okay be tasteful… Don’t order the revolution costume… If you want to save money, just do the variation in a red rehearsal skirt and black leotard. Don’t have this huge puffy twenty layer skirt… it is not flattering whatsoever. It is actually pretty tacky. Finally, remember the more layers you add to the skirt, the heavier it is and harder to control. Don’t make this into a can can either… I’m all for playing with the skirt… buuuut so many people turn it into the can can… which brings me to the under garment. YOU HAVE TO ATTACH the panty to the costume! You can just put on a pair of black spanks. When you turn… and move.. you see the line and your stomach…