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Sissones, Petit Allegro Style

As you may know, petit allegro is not my forté.

As such, I ask all kinds of super-technical questions, like:


Fortunately, LAA’s class is small enough that she’s had a chance to really analyze my (admittedly-wack) petit allegro calzone zizzone technique, and last night she gave me two incredibly helpful bits of advice:

  • Tone down the UP!!!!
    • In comparison with barre exercises, think of it as a jeté (accent in, if it helps you keep the adductors fully engaged) rather than as grand battement.
  • Add some side (that is, lateral travel).

So let’s revisit a screencap of me doing pantones sissones:


I’m the one with no feet on the ground.

This is me landing a pannetone sissone[1]. Technically, this was a medium allegro combination, but it was still wildly unnecessary for me to put that much elevation into that jump (and every single other jump in that combination).

  1. If you need a quick refresher, a sissone is a jump from two legs to one leg. A pannetone is a delicious sweet bread (not sweetbread, that’s something else) from Milan.

You can see that my working leg is up there (and turned out and pointed and effing winged, holy hell).

What you can’t see is that I did this entire sissone with very little lateral travel relative to the height of the jump.

You can probably calculate the apex height of the jump with some degree of accuracy. That should give you an idea of why I’m always and forever behind when tasked with sissones in settings other than grand allegro (ideally at “men’s tempo,” which tends to be slow in order to allow for lots of elevation and ballon).

I’ve probably been doing petit allegro sissones this way for quite a while: I think, “Make it smaller,” and respond by making it not go anywhere but UP.

Technically speaking, sissones aren’t really traveling jumps (which is to say that they’re not leaps, basically). Laterally speaking, you shouldn’t go very far in a sissone—but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go anywhere at all.

If you tone down your elevation and allow for a little lateral travel, your petit allegro sissone tends to become the light, lovely little spring that it’s supposed to be, and you don’t get behind the music and find yourself receiving epic side-eye from the poor schmuck attempting to dance next to you.

When I approach them this way, I can make my petit allegro sissones small and light enough to practice them in my kitchen without fear of whacking my feet or shins on things (my kitchen is tiny; the struggle is real). Coincidentally, that also means they’re quick enough to use in those horrible, fast petit allegro combinations universally despised[2] by those of us who are built for grand allegro.

  1. Or at least despaired over…

One more thing: if your hips are ridiculously flexible like mine are, you’ll also want to think about opening  the working leg straight to the side or even a little ahead.

The flexibility of my hips lets me put my legs kind a quite far back in a turned-out second, which can make closing back to 5th to prepare for the next jump really slow and do weird things to the path of the sissone, which should be diagonal.

Coincidentally, I have to think about the same thing when doing grand pirouettes: keep the working leg engaged a few degrees forward of dead-to-the-side, or things become unwieldy because physics.

A Long Day’s Journey Into Trapeze

Wednesday Class this morning was, as ever, a challenge: a greater challenge, in fact, than is entirely usual.

In short, I was extra tired this morning, possibly due to the extra aerial technique class yesterday. Oh, well — to this I say (addressing myself, of course), “Suck it up, Buttercup.” My brain and legs were apparently not on speaking terms. Even when my body had a given combination right, my brain would occasionally butt in to say, “Wait, are you sure that’s right? Because it could have been—“ and finish with some different version that, no, it couldn’t have been. Ugh.

I was comforted by the fact that various company dancers and one of the former pre-pro girls, back on spring break and freshly accepted to IU’s excellent dance program, were also struggling at times. This is why we all love Mme.B’s class: she stretches us, and then when we think we’ve been stretched to the breaking point, she shows us that, no, we’ve got a little more.

I was, nonetheless, sufficiently awake by the end of barre to deport myself quite respectably during adagio, which was a beautiful combination carried over from last week. My tours lent, in particular, we’re accomplished without flailing in both directions.

Turns, too, were acceptable, as was the terre à terre or whatever the correct name is for that bit.

But not petit allegro. We did last week’s combination again, there, and while it went well last time, neither my legs nor my brain were having any of it today.

As for grand allegro … Eh. It began with temps de flèche, which I kept screwing up by starting on the wrong foot. But the last two thirds (from a direction change to entrelacé through another direction change and a bunch of other stuff), I had. There was a really cool part with a giant pas de chat that became part of a directional change. I’ll have to try to describe it better when I’m, like, awake.

I asked M. B. for guidance on temps de flèche after class, and I think I’m on top of it now.

The day ended with an excellent conditioning class followed by an awesome trapeze class. I heart trapeze so much at the end of a day of fumbling through Killer Ballet class (“Hard Mode” just doesn’t always catch it). We did, among other things, pike beats, which I looooove.

That’s it for now. Chores, Web work, bells, and acro tomorrow.

À bientôt, mes amis.

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