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Can You Manege It?

Today, L’Ancien gave us a manège, beginning with:

“That corner (downstage left) is the lonelinest corner. Dancers avoid that corner … make sure you travel through that corner.”

Then four of us stood at the points inside the circle (or well, technically the oval) whilst the other for manèged their way around via piqué turn, piqué turn, tombé-coupé-jeté en tournant, tombé-coupé-jeté en tournant, jeté en tournant, jeté en tournant, jeté en tournant.

After the first run, L’Ancien did not actually lay himself down upon the floor in the depths of his despair, but he probably wanted to, especially where I was concerned. There was a lot of WTF in my run, and I knew that, and I hadn’t figured out how to fix it by the time I made it around the Loneliest Corner and back to where I began.

Basically, it started well (I can do nice piqué turns in my sleep, at this point), but fell apart during the tombé-coupé-jeté. In short, I knew I needed to collect all 18[1] of my feet together, then stab the coupé foot into the ground and brush the other foot to launch the jeté. Only I couldn’t seem to get all those freaking feet together at the right moment, so I kept doing … ergh, I don’t even know what, but it was wrong. At least it turned in the air, I guess?

  1. Okay, so technically only two, but if you’ve ever had a bad run of tombé-coupé-jeté en manège, you know what I mean.

What I had done wrong—what everyone, apparently, had done wrong—was that in addition to wearing red shorts (after having been informed that L’Ancien is NOT fond of fire engine red, which I remembered halfway through barre, to my great chagrin), I was attempting to tombé-coupé-jeté from second.

Like, that is to say, instead of chassée-ing through the face the direction of travel, I was … erm … sort of chassée-ing à côte and then … I just … don’t even know what. But it was wrong.

Basically, the result was that instead of coupé-ing to the back of the inside leg as I turned, I was … just flailing the outside leg around like an idiot … and then attempting to reel it in and somehow jeté from, like, the world’s worst fourth position.

The entire correction was this:

“Face the direction you are traveling. And also use your eyes.”[2]

  1. L’Ancien is almost certainly VERY TIRED of telling me to use my eyes.

Amazingly, y’all, this SOLVED. THE. PROBLEM.

Tombé-coupé-jeté (and/or chassée-coupé-jeté) is one of my favorite steps, but one that I’ve struggled with ( nobody really diagnosed my previous problem—that I was doing some kind of crazy sissone instead of an actual jeté—until I finally asked David Reuille what I was doing wrong, LOL).

It has been really hard for me en manège, which is unfortunate because t-j-c-en-m is in almost every men’s variation ever.

Today, the second run wasn’t exactly spectacular, but it was technically sound … like, “Oh! There are my feet, right where they need to be, doing what they’re supposed to do!”

It wasn’t super high, and it probably wasn’t beautiful, but it was at least acceptable.

So! To sum up my thoughts on tombé-coupé-jeté en tournant:

  • FACE THE WAY YOU ARE GOING.
    • This is almost always something you should just do anyway, unless you’re doing Balanchine. For some reason, B-Technique is all about making you do piqué turns (and every bleeding thing else) en face. WTF, Mr. B?
  • The basic process of the step is:
    • Tombé onto the inside foot
    • Coupé the outside foot to the BACK of the inside ankle to initiate the turn
    • STAB dat coupé foot right into the floor as you
    • BRUSH the jeté foot straight the heck out
      • DO NOT ROND THIS LEG
      • I MEAN IT
      • SERIOUSLY
      • DO NOT ROND
      • DON’T DO IT
      • YOU DO NOT NEED TO ROND THIS LEG
      • If you’re doing the rest of it right, the momentum you’ve established will turn you in the direction of travel; if you rond the leg, you’re probably going to find yourself with your back to the audience
      • That will be embarassing and make your ballet mistress very sad
      • You don’t want to make your ballet mistress sad, do you?
      • adult alone black and white blur

        You do not want to make your ballet mistress question her major life choices. You just don’t. (Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com)

  • Don’t stress out. This step is complicated, yes: but like many things in ballet, once you figure it out it’s kind of easier than it looks. I mean, perfecting it is still hard, of course, because ballet. Oy.

Anyway, there have been times in my life that I’ve managed to mash my way through t-c-j[3], but it’s only now that I feel like I understand what the hecking heck I’m actually trying to accomplish.

  1. Of note: if you read that post, you’ll notice it explicitly states that you can tombé to second to add extra power to your jump. You can, BUT! BUT! BUT! YOU MUST STILL pivot through to face the direction of travel before you do the rest, unless you’re traveling on a straight-line diagonal (that is, NOT en manège).

Anyway, by the end of class, I actually felt like I knew how to do tombé-coupé-jeté.

Which is good, because on Tuesday I start company class at an Actual Ballet Company, where it seems I will actually be dancing this season, and it’s not terribly unlikely that I’m going to need it.

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.
Also, 
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 😛

Huzzah

Finally feeling up to Saturday Class, so I figured I’d make it a double. We’re off for the next two weeks (Winter Break, booooooo).

In Advanced Class, barre, adagio, turns, waltz, and terre-a-terre were pretty darned good, petit allegro was acceptable, and grand-ish allegro was a disaster en mènage. I kept alternately effing up tombé-coupé-jeté and leaving out the transitional step that came after. Blargh. Going left, I kept doing my balancé en tournant inside out like a total n00b, which then forced me to do my t-c-j backwards.

At least I haven’t done any backwards turns(1) in a while?

  1. I have no idea when backwards turns stopped happening, but they did, at least for now.

In Nominally-Beginner-But-Actually-Intermediate Class, everything was good except petit allegro, by which time my legs weighed approximately 1,354 kilograms each. I couldn’t get them to do things quickly. In fact, they were not terribly willing to do things at all. 

Nonetheless, the entire day was completely redeemed by the girl who asked me after class, “Are you in the company?” (She was my partner for all all the across-the-floor stuff, and she was also pretty good.) 

I refrained, of course, from asking her to marry me on the spot, since I’m already married, etc. But it was a very welcome thing to hear, especially on a day when I’m not feeling at my best.

Speaking of The Company, tonight we get to see BW and TB Nutcrackering. Yaaaaaay!

I’m a little sad that we didn’t we get to see BW as the Cavalier last night (because A) broke and B) so freaking insanely busy), but we still get to see one of his Partnering Masterclass performances.

My introduction to BW, by the way, followed the first performance in which I saw him dance a pas de deux. The very next class, he showed up and, if I remember correctly, installed himself on my barre (we were on portables, 4 or 6 to a barre,because there were like 30 people in class). 

I proceeded to quietly have a heart attack throughout class. I am marginally ashamed to admit that I felt felt more or less how a teenaged girl in the 1960s would have felt if John Lennon sat next to her in music class. Only, you know, ballet, so both we were both more or less in our underwear.(2)

  1. Ballet: because hero worship isn’t awkward enough.

Yeah, I know. #PatheticFanboy 

But I kept it all inside, because I’m cool like dat. 

B|  <— my cool face 

Anyway, I need to go takeashowerchangeandbuyflowersforBW, so that’s it for now.

And then, two weeks to clean, finish the book-keeping for the year, and get back in shape (because holy cow, soooooooo out of shape right now). 

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