Modern Mondays, Class 2: Coupé Jeté en Tournant

Last week, Modern T’s lesson in bone-stacking (and cantilevering) for balance improved my balance in ballet.

This week, a clear and simple explanation sorted my coupé jeté.

Or, well — started sorting it, anyway.

Like, in the past, they’ve cropped up in choreography, and I’ve been like, “Well, here goes!” and occasionally, by way of random divine intervention, I would carry one off. Like, basically, if I did the rest of the choreography right (which is, at times, a miracle in and of itself) it would carry me into (and through) the coupé jeté.

Today, thanks to Modern T’s explanation, I managed to do one, like, intentionally, without an entire combination to carry me into it. More than one, in fact. In both directions, even!

We were using it in a combo, but I kept missing it; hence the explanation. Isolating it worked (as did explaining it in ballet terms and “factoring” it).

Coupé jeté is one of my big goals for this semester, so I am, in short, totally stoked.

The thing that I get now is that there are, in effect, two turns involved: a tombé  piqué — AKA “lame duck” — to coupé, which provides the momentum for the  turn that happens in the second jump.

I’m still not sure how to explain where the impulse for lift-off happens. I’ll have to work through it about a dozen more times before I reach a point at which I can put that into words.

Modern dance makes it easier for me to understand how I learn dance (and dances). There’s definitely a lot of kinetic sequencing that happens; if I can remember the first step in a bit of choreography, I can usually get through all of it; if I can’t remember how it starts, I get stuck.

My primary “backup” takes the form of 3D movies in my head, but if I’m missing a piece of the movie, I can get stuck that way, too.

My secondary backup is verbal: in ballet, reciting the names of the movements can help me if I get stuck; it doesn’t always work, since I’m not awesome at verbal learning, but it’s still useful. When I don’t have names for things in modern, I don’t have that extra backup.

So, basically, my dance-learning hierarchy goes:
Kinetic (which includes rhythmic/pulse sense)

…And when all three systems somehow fail to store a piece of the choreography, I get stuck and the sequence freezes.

This is more likely to happen in modern dance because it’s less familiar and often less verbal, so I need to work on making sure my kinetic and visual maps are really solid so I am less likely to need that verbal backup plan. I suppose it’s also totally valid to do what I do when my name-recalling software fails in ballet, and just give things temporary names.

I can’t tell you how often I wind up substituting “… and then thing, and swirly thing, and that other thing, and then thing again,” in my verbal ballet maps!

I think that I can improve this in both ballet and modern contexts by creating mental “hooks” in the choreography — like the thing I mentioned a few days back about knowing all of that one combination from the entrelacé, but not the beginning of the combination in question. I love entrelacé, so it becomes a “hook” really easily.

The other thing I learned is that, where large tombés are concerned, I compulsively tombé with both legs bent, even when I’m supposed to be falling with a bend only in the leg that’s receiving my weight, except on those occasions that the trailing leg leaves the floor. It’s like I’m always preparing to do some huge turn or something.

That made the beginning of one of today’s combinations quite a bit harder than was actually necessary until I figured what the heck I was doing!

Okay, that’s it for now. I should probably go do some work 🙂

À bientôt, mes amis !

About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Neuro-atypical. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2016/03/14, in balllet. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Making up names to remember modern choreography is totally valid! Especially when it comes to more contemporary/choreographic stuff where there really is no name, I’m usually describing phrases as something like “washing machine, backwards reverse, unicorn hands, splat!”

  2. Yeah, I think I’d like to verbalise our combinations much more. Adult Beginner has a great post about the way dancers are so specific compared to the theatre people she works with – nobody gives a shit about your motivation, but it matters a hell of a lot which leg your weight is over. And I’d always like to be more specific.

    Also, we were working on a new Release sequence last night and pretty much the whole thing seemed to depend on getting the second turn right – drop out early or overcook it and the whole thing fell apart.

    (Amusing: I got in good and early and spent quite a while practising The One That Actually Injured Me with two of the others. It was a real “I feel like a dancer!” moment, but then we didn’t touch it in class at all. Also, the lights went out while we were warming down and I spotted one of the girls doing a slow attitude turn instead under cover of the darkness.)

  3. My mum taught tap for years to little phrases like “a packet of peas” – pickup step shuffle change, etc. it’s perfectly normal. As me and my sister were both toddlers sat under the corner of the piano while she taught adult classes, “mummy” was any movement that involved the arms in second position facing the front – the movement most kids do instinctively when they want to be picked up… the students in her classes just went with it, but some who have gone on to teach themselves still remember and use the little rhythmic phrases. If you have to learn text, movement helps jog the memory, and if you have to learn movement, it helps to have a thought that goes along with it – even if it’s not exactly verbal, more a series of grunts or noises.

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