Blog Archives

Technique: Notes On Tombe-Coupe-Jete

I’m launching a series of post on the details of technique. It’ll probably consist primarily of steps I’m struggling with, so take it with a grain of salt.

I find it helpful to write things out in an effort to get a grip on them. These aren’t so much instructions (though if they work for you, awesome!) as observations.

Tombé-coupé-jeté is a subset of coupé-jeté en tournant (if you do jazz, you might know this as a “calypso,” if I understood my classmate correctly). 

As its name implies, it’s a compound step. The elements are:

  • a tombé into a
  • turn at coupé
  • that lends its rotation to a jeté

Some form or another of coupé-jeté en tournant shows up in men’s technique a lot—QV Le Corsaire’s famous (and famously-hard) Slave variationthe Pas de Trois from Swan Lake, a whole bunch of stuff in Nutcracker, etc, etc.

Coupé-jeté pass starts at ~1:20 This guy knows what he’s about.
I like the way he moves.

The tombé version is the one I’m concerned with here.

I’ve been wrestling with making my tombé-coupé-jeté consistent on both sides so I can use it in choreography without having to think about it (because thinking is basically death to my ballet technique; it makes my brain overheat and crash).

The basic mechanics, traveling right, go like this:

  1. Tombé onto the right leg.
  2. Bring the left leg to coupé while executing a turn en dedans.
    1. Your arms help to provide momentum for the turn.
    2. Don’t leave your body behind!
  3. Transfer weight onto the left foot. Your left leg will be in a demi-plié.
  4. Simultaneously, grand battement the right leg just as you would for a plain old vanilla jeté.
  5. Spring off the left leg.

JP’s notes:

  • For men’s technique: tombé to second (you get a bigger jump, and men’s technique is basically be distilled into How To Get A Bigger Jump).
    • I realized today that I kept tombé-ing to something like 2.5ième. Bleh.
    • It works a lot better if you actually really do tombé to an actual 2nd.
  • The turn happens in the coupé.
    • NOT in the tombé.
    • NOT in the jeté*.
      • *The remaining momentum from the turn will cause the jeté to rotate slightly, but if you think of the turn as being in the jeté, you’ll inevitably add a rond-de-jambe, and everything will go right to Hell in a hand-basket.
      • O-Turns-Why

        So, basically, this is “how not to pirouette,” but, eh. You get the point.

    • I tend to start unfurling my working leg at the wrong point in this turn. DO NOT DO THIS. It throws everything else off, and also results in a wobbly flight path.
  • The right leg sweeps STRAIGHT OUT, as in grand battementavant or to 2nd (I’m not actually sure if one is correct and the other incorrect; I didn’t think to ask JP).
    • The working leg does not rond.
    • I repeat, the working leg DOES NOT ROND.
      • I find that it helps to think “Grand battement!” rather than “Don’t rond!”

So let’s think about how this all works on the right.

  • The tombé loads the right leg, providing impetus for the turn just as the plié does at the beginning of a pirouette.
  • The arms come together to add to the momentum of the turn as the left leg snaps to coupé.
    • The body has to stay connected—the shoulders and hips must travel together—in order to execute this movement well. This is true for all turns, but especially true for coupé-jeté en tournant.
  • The coupé builds momentum that will allow the jeté to sail along a curvilinear pathway.
  • At the end of the turn, the weight is transferred to the left leg in demi-plié. The right leg sweeps straight out to initiate the jeté.
  • The jump lands on the right leg. It’s possible to move right into another coupé-jeté en tournant or into another step entirely.

Here’s what I tend to do wrong when doing tombé-coupé-jeté en tournant.

  1. tombé into some weird 2.5iéme kind of position instead of a clean 2nd.
  2. I fail to keep my hips and shoulders together.
  3. I try to come out of the turn at coupé to soon.
  4. I sometimes snap the leg up as one would in saut de chat instead of sweeping it straight up.
  5. rond the leading leg in the jump to compensate for exiting the turn too early.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did do about a million slow-motion coupé-jetés on my living room carpet while trying to work all of this out.

Anyway, now I know what I’m doing wrong, so I should have a better time getting it all sorted.

In the meantime, here’s a really good video that demonstrates coupé-jeté en tournant. I should probably note that I’ve only watched it with the sound off, so I have no idea what it sounds like 😛

Saturday: Renversés, Etc.

Today’s class with John was challenging. He included material that I’m pretty sure I’ve never done  before, ever — item the first: a sauté renversé, which I eventually figured out; item the second, a coupé jeté en tournant, which I managed to do right only once (for some reason, my brain kept deciding that saut de Basque* would be an acceptable substitute and doing it whether I liked it or not).

*Edit: Now that I’ve considered this for a while, I’m guessing my brain was putting the whole step together backwards. Wouldn’t be the first time.

That said, I’ve been wanting to learn coupé jeté en tournant, but didn’t know what it was called, so that’s excellent. Now I can ask Brian or Brienne to formally teach it to us.

I’ve realized that what I really like about John’s and Brienne’s classes is that they do a really good job building from barre to centre to grand allegro using related movements: for example, we did fouetté at barre, then used it in our adagio, then again in our turns, then used sauté fouetté in our grand allegro.

Ditto renversé, though we didn’t do that at barre, and attitude turns (which we didn’t do at barre, but which feed into both the sauté renversé and the coupé jeté en tournant).

I am coming to really love renversé.

I had a harder-than-usual time remembering the last two combinations today — in part because they were long, in part because I’m partly deaf right now, and in part because, as with coupé jeté, I didn’t know all the steps.


I felt that this required an illustration, so I shamelessly sto… erm … borrowed one from here: Candy01 at Imgflip

In short, I felt like I struggled today, but in a good way.

It’s good to have classes in which you know all the steps and can dance beautifully, and it’s equally good to have classes in which you’re just out of your depth but not so much that you feel like it’s not worth trying.

We’re off for the next two weeks, now, so I’m going to have to devise a way to stay fit over the break. Maybe I’ll spend it teaching myself coupé jeté (but probably not).

So, anyway, that’s all for now. I hope your various classes and Nutcrackers and breaks treat you well.

À bientôt, mes amis!

%d bloggers like this: