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This post is based on the Progressions for Progress class that I recently taught at the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC and Long Beach.  With the positive feedback from the class, I decided to write this up as a blog post so that I can share it with more people.  The process used here can easily be adapted for all dance steps.  To clarify the step being deconstructed, this link will take you to a video clip of a well executed tour jeté.  

Step 1 - Determine the components of the tour jeté:

  • Jumping
  • Grand Battement Front / back
  • Timing
  • Torso / Pelvic Alignment
  • Rotation and Control
  • Spotting
  • Arm Coordination
  • Landing

Step 2 - Note what tends to go wrong in each area (some common errors are listed here for you)

  • Jumping
    • Jump is not high enough to complete the full rotation in the air
    • Feet are not used fully
    • Jump is not powered from the lower body
    • The jump travels horizontally instead of vertically
  • Grand Battement Front / Back
    • Legs don’t scissor
    • Jumping “around the corner”
    • The battement front is not front
    • The battement back is not back
  • Timing
    • The movement is not smooth
    • The turn occurs at the wrong time
    • The take off does not maximize force production
  • Torso / Pelvic alignment
    • The hips open too wide in the arabesque
    • Body placement gets “unstacked”
  • Rotation and Control
    • The body rotates in pieces
    • The rotation is not completed by the landing
    • The landing continues to rotate
  • Spotting
    • The dancer doesn’t spot with actual visual focus
  • Arm Coordination
    • The arm movements don’t match the rest of the body
  • Landing
    • The dancer looks like they are “bobbing for apples”
    • Hopping the landing
    • Landing without plié

Step 3 - Coming up with progressions or exercises to correct these areas

  • Vertical Jump 
    • Have the dancers practice “plié, jump, land, stretch with their bum and head either against a wall or standing back to back with another dancer. 
      • Errors to look for 
        • Torso and Pelvis hinging forward on the plié - can indicate tight hip flexors, weak glutes and hamstrings, restricted ankle movement among other issues
        • Tucking under on the plié - indicate the lack of pelvic control and  often over work of the glutes and hamstrings.
        • Throwing of the upper body backwards to get off of the floor - upper body is trying to create the momentum as opposed to the legs pushing off.
        • Feet and ankles not fully stretched - will indicate that the feet are not helping to propel the body off of the floor.
        • Double bounce plié which indicates the plié was stopped and restarted in the shortened position.  This will limit the power that can be properly produced

  • Grand Battement
    • At the barre to start and then in centre when ready - Battement front, close 5th position and battement back with the opposite foot and close 5th.  Continue to alternate front and back.
      • What to look for 
        • The weight transfer has minimal body shift.
        • The hips and torso stay aligned in both directions.
        • The pelvis stays vertical in the battement front- common error is the pelvis tucking under and moving with the thigh instead of the leg dissociating from the pelvis.
        • The pelvis angles forward appropriately as the leg goes into battement back.
  • Across the floor - step out the chassé to the side (step, together, step) going from sideways on the step, together and then stepping turned out on the final step so that your body is now facing square front in the direction of travel.  Battement front and close.  Repeat the same side all the way across the floor
    • What to look for
      • The movement of the chassé goes directly side, not on the diagonal, and then the step forward is a 1/4 turn of rotation.  Keep the movements very square.

  • Timing
    • Take the battement combination across the floor and close the gesture leg to first position after the grand battemtn front and as the leg is closing complete 1/2 turn.
      • What to look for
        • The dancers should have the non turning version clean first.
        • The rotation happens as the leg is closing in 1st position.

  • Torso / Pelvic Alignment
    • Chassé side, grand battement front and at the same time jump off of the floor.
      • What to look for
        • The jump is vertical and not traveling forward
        • The jump should happen as the battement leg is starting the brush so the take off is from 2 feet.
        • The landing is in 1st position plié.
        • If the dancers know assemblé, have them bring the bottom leg towards the top leg slightly before closing.

  • Rotation and Control
    • Use the exercise in Torso/ pelvic alignment and add the 1/2 turn rotation as the legs are closing.
      • What to look for
        • The rotation doesn’t start until the gesture leg is starting to close.
        • The dancer spots
        • The dancer lands in 1st position plié with their torso aligned.
        • Once the dancer can do this cleanly, have the dancer immediately lift the other leg into arabesque after landing and hold their balance.

  • Spotting
    • Have the dancers work on châiné turns spotting your hand where they need to call out either 1 or 2 fingers depending on what you are showing each time they turn. 
      • The goal is to encourage the students to focus and not just turn their head.

  • Arm Coordination 
    • Add arms to the battement and rotation across the floor exercises.
      • You are looking for the arms to reach en haute at the height of the battement front and then press into the desired arabesque position as the dancer lands.

  • Landing
    • The students run 2 steps and then execute a straight legged grand jeté.  Landing the grand jeté on one leg in plié with the other leg raised in arabesque.  Have the students maintain the landing position for 4 - 8 counts without hopping or bobbing.
      • What to look for
        • This grand jeté needs to have an up and over feeling.
        • The arabesque leg should not drop towards the floor and then bounce back up.
        • The head and neck should follow the line of the torso, no PEZ dispenser head lines please.
        • The hips should be as square as possible.

Once these steps are clean and consistent, have the students repeat the rotation and control exercise landing on 1 foot (which completes the parts of the tour jeté).  As the students continue to get stronger, the tour jeté would continue to increase the scissoring action and grow.

The steps above could be broken down even more finely - the jump breaking down into the plié, the actual jump and the landing etc.

This will also help you decide when a student is ready to start working on these compound steps.  Once you recognize the skills that build into the step, you can start preparing the student by teaching the individual components.  Next move onto the combination of 2 elements and then continue to grow on these foundations until the full step is completed.

 

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