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At the Joffrey: In Beginner Class, I Rethink Grand Jeté

The Joffrey’s 10 AM Saturday beginner class is taught by a gentleman, Ariel Cisneros, who may be the most effective instructor I’ve ever encountered for my particular body. In short, he immediately zeroed in on and fixed two holes in my body awareness; he also explains things in ways that automatically make sense to me.

Barre was lovely — not particularly difficult, but the combinations were unique. Mr. C used unique methods to focus us on using our feet and maintaining turnout. His methods very effectively complement those that Brian and Brienne have been using with me.

As Mr. C gave us the opening plié combination, I realized I was really, really going to have to pay attention: while there was nothing gimmicky about his combinations, they were unusual (in a good and effective way) and complex.

I really liked the fondu-et-rond de jambe combination we did, which approached Brienne’s fondu combinations in terms of complexity and physical demand, though it wasn’t as soul-crushingly long as hers can be.

At center, we did a lovely little bit of choreography with promenades, turns, and développés that went quite well indeed; I called on work we did in Brian’s Saturday class a while back to make the développés solid and pretty.

More importantly, perhaps, Mr. C gave me some very specific, apt notes of improving my turns.

Across the floor we did a really nice combination (edit: which evidently I forgot to finish writing about — the perils of small-screen blogging).

At the end, we did glissades and pas de chats, then grand jetés. For some reason (see below), my grand jetés were disastrously bad. I have sort of given myself a mental block about grand jeté of late, but after class I was able to figure out what the problem was.

I really wish I could do class with Mr. C every Saturday (heck, every single day would be better). I’ll have to bring the lessons I learned today back to the studio at home.

I came out of this class feeling, once again, like I have the makings of a good dancer, and like the problems in encountering can be solved.

Sometimes the perspective of an instructor who doesn’t see you three times a week can really help!

~
About grand jetés…

I pretty a cracking good grand jeté as a kid, and I’ve been despairing over it as a returning adult dancer.

I realized today that the problem lies in how I’m using my upper body.

Instead of keeping my upper body, well, up (and slightly back), I’ve evidently been trying to launch the jump with my shoulders.

You guys, WTF is that?

I don’t do that when doing tour jeté or saut de Basque because it wouldn’t work. I suspect, though, that’s because I like having teeth and don’t want to land on my face, which is probably what would happen. Instinctively, then, I avoid executing what would be a Very Bad Plan.

Anyway, jumping from the shoulders doesn’t leave any room for the front leg to go anywhere and makes it much harder for the rear leg to launch you up. At best, it launches you forwards; at worst, down.

So I will concentrate on retraining my grand jeté, along with everything else.

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