October 2, 2011

Sneaky Does It

Teachers can be sneaky. Like when they don´t tell you that you´re about to practice a very famous variation, because they know that it would freak you out and have you jeté into hiding before the pointe shoe drops. My teacher is like that. She knows me so well, it´s embarrassing.

The funny thing is that I should have recognized the music right away. I have watched that variation on youtube so many times that Auber´s music is permanently burned on my brain. But I´ve never ever considered trying or learning any of those steps. Dreamed, yes. But which ballet enthusiast/dancer/wannabe-ballerina would not dream of dancing like the sublime Platel?

Piqué passé retiré - pas de chat - pas de bourré dessus - relevé attitude (we did a simple sous-sous instead) - back leg coud de pied - front leg coud de pied with corresponding port de bras - plié into passé retiré - pas de bourré en tournant with legs into high retirés - repeat.. I was concentrating so hard on the steps that I did not realize we were doing the beginning of the female solo of Grand Pas Classique! Way to sneak that in, Signora..

Had you shown me that variation a year ago, I would have deemed it mission impossible. And to be completely honest and get-real realistic, 90 percent of it still is (and at least 65% will always remain that). The attitude turns, the hops on pointe - please educate me as how to desribe them in correct ballet-French - the fouetté pirouettes, and the list goes on and on.. All we did was the first 8 counts repeated twice. You can now go and watch the video, fast forward to 06:25 and stop before Platel does her piqué attitude turns. Remember to replace the attitude relevé with a sous-sous.

I know, for you been-there-done-thats out there, baby steps. For me, a huge deal. I´m so not going to be blasé about it. You may have to trick me into variations, at least until I learn how not to freak out at the sight of Solo Dancing. But darlings, I have to admit it - I loved every classique step!


  1. Wow! Have no words, you are my hero, i want to be like you!:)) but long way ahead, just started my second year of ballet for adults so...but at least i now know that others have achieved it.

  2. Hi Baluka!

    To get the right picture, you gotta replace the wonderful & amazing Platel with a normal adult dancer! Even if I´m learning some of the steps, my dancing will never look anything like that. :D

    Only in my dreams..

    But you can probably achieve more than you think is possible right now!

  3. Wow, that is beautiful variation!
    Dear Johanna, please read those last words you wrote to Baluka above - I bet you too can achieve more than you think is possible!
    Enjoy :)

  4. Hi Aija!

    Elisabeth Platel is possibly my most favorite ballerina of all. Such elegance, style and skill. Sigh.. Nobody does this particular variation more credit!

    Thanks Aija, you have a good pointe there. But I know enough to know when the reality check comes in. Some technique just plain requires more talent, capabilty and time than is possible.

    Does not stop me from enjoying what I do now! :)

  5. The little hops at the end, I've been taught them as changements en pointe. They are much easier than they look - they're almost like scooting the feet around each other, only barely leaving the floor. Sneaky, even. :)

  6. Hi Candice! Thank you, but it looks like I got my hops and relevés confused.. I actually meant the steps starting at 7:23, which I would describe as balloné relevés??

    The actual hops - that is changements en pointe -I have tried a couple of times before. And you are right, not as difficult as they look. I like your "sneaky scooting" description! But the accompanying head & arm choreography.. phew. Graceful and effortless - if only :)

    - Johanna / PTYD

  7. Oh, those! Ballotté is the term. I went and looked up the spelling. Ballonné are the ones that end in cou-de-pied.

    Those two steps feature heavily in the petits allegros that we are given in intermediate class.

  8. @Candice - I´ve been taught that this step is a pas balloné, when done jumping. I did not know if there is other terminology when you do it en pointe ("scooting" on the floor.)

    ABT's ballet dictionary defines itlike this:

    "Ball-like or bouncing step. A step in which the dancer springs into the air extending one leg to the front, side or back and lands with the extended leg either sur le cou-de-pied or retiré. There are two kinds of ballonné: ballonné simple, which may be performed petit or grand; and ballonné compose, which is a compound step consisting of three movements. Ballonné may be executed in all the directions of the body."

    No mention of pointe though. By the way, jumped this is one of my favorite steps! :)

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me out!

  9. Hmmm. You may still be right, I think. I blame the fever I took yesterday off for. Whee.

    I'm a refugee from modern dance (unlike most of my fellow modern dancers, who were escaped from ballet) so I tend to be good at the jumps too. :)


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...