These are the notes from an class I taught on the subject at the Dance Teacher Summit in 2011. For clarification, these skills are meant to be cumulative, over years of training and not progressions to be drilled one class after the other in short term training. If you have been working on fouetté turns with dancers and having a problem with execution, a suggestion is to go through the list of movement components individually and find the one(s) that is/are problematic and start by correcting those first and then re-evaluate.
1 - Plié and relevé on the supporting leg
Observing the foot barefoot (if possible) and correct any issues you find
- Maintain weight distribution in a tripod (pad of the big toe, little toe and center of the heel) through the movement of plié and straightening
- Maintain an even weight distribution across the metatarsal shelf in relevé.
- Control the foot alignment and weight distribution through the transition from plié to relevé and back into plié.
Observing the ankle alignment and correct any issues you find
- Maintain a neutral ankle alignment - as related to the position of the lower leg and foot
* In plié, watch for gripping of the anterior tibialis. The front of the ankle should remain soft on the descent.
* In plié, maintain the weight balance as described above. Watch for rolling in or out in the arch.
* In relevé, watch for rolling in and out.
* Press the ball of the foot into the floor to create the relevé action as opposed to popping up.
Observing the knee alignment and correct any issues you find
- Maintain a neutral alignment as related to the hip and lower leg / ankle.
- Watch for changes in the knee alignment, especially through the plié and relevé transitions
- Correct hyperextension, encourage dancers to find straight instead.
- Remind dancers to fully straighten their knee (without going into hyperextension).
Observing the hip / pelvis alignment and correct any issues you find
- Maintain a neutral pelvic position
* Watch for anterior tilt of the pelvis, often seen in dancers with short or tight hip flexors and sometimes compensating for a shallow plié
* Watch for posterior tilt of the pelvis, often seen in dancers with short or tight hamstrings anend dancers who don't understand the difference between dropping their tailbone and tucking under.
- Maintain turnout at the top of the thigh in the hip socket
- Consistency in the amount of turnout throughout the plié and relevé.
2 - Movement of the Gesture Leg
- Maintain turnout at the top of the thigh in the hip socket.
- The gesture leg does not turn out from losing turnout on the supporting leg.
- The dancer's side alignment is dependent on his/her turnout.
- Pelvis remains neutral
* Avoid tucking the pelvis under to try to increase the height of the gesture leg instead of working at the height allowed by the hamstring mobility.
* Work on hip / thigh dissociation to avoid hip hike.
- Maintain a consistent height to the gesture leg through the plié and relevé
Rond de jambe front to side
- Maintain the turnout of both legs.
- Open the leg to the dancer's natural side position.
- Maintain the height of the leg throughout the movement.
- Maintain the pelvis over the supporting leg.
- Work on the timing of the gesture leg to coordinate with the supporting leg plié and relevé.
- Maintain the position of the thigh during the back / front beat
- Control the movement to avoid snapping.
- Watch for torque at the knee.
3 - Rotation of the Body
- Maintain neutral alignment throughout the overall body
* Watch for forward / backward hinging of the torso on the pelvis
* Maintain alignment throughout the transition between plié and relevé
- Arm placement is such that torso / ribcage position is neutral
- Arm height is regulated to avoid lifting shoulders or extending spine
- The 2nd position arms are not opened too far side (watch the upper arm at the shoulder socket)
- The distance of the hands from the torso allows for the upper body to remain stacked over the hips
- There is enough strength and endurance in the deltoid muscles to maintain a supported arm position.
- The shoulder blades remain flat against the ribcage - avoid protracting /retracting / winging.
- Time the descent into plié to avoid sitting in the plié and losing the potential energy created during the plié.
- Control the descent to avoid dropping into the plié.
- Work on the timing to transition between the plié and the relevé smoothly.
- Coordinate the timing of the gesture and supporting leg movements.
- Coordinate the timing of the arms with the legs.
Preparatory Exercises / Progressions
Single Leg Plié and Relevé
Rond de Jambe en l’air
Putting it all together