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Temps-Lié: Some Thoughts

Advanced Class: Temps Lie, Turns, and Transitional Steps

None of the above-mentioned things, of course, are specific to advanced ballet studies. Dancers begin to learn all three almost from the beginning.

However, they’re all examples of skills that, as a dancer, you never stop honing.

Today, we touched on all three.

At barre, we used temps lié in several combinations; we came back to it in our adagio at center, then again in our pirouette combination. At barre, we were reminded to really work through the whole of each foot in order to keep our turnout; at center, we were encouraged to make our temps lié bigger (without losing our turnout or letting our cores fall apart).

Curiously, our turns themselves garnered little correction today — really, we just got a note about using a better coupe-piqué into our sus-sous turns. The idea was to make it sharper and cleaner; a clear, unambiguous step rather than a sort of blurry pivot.

We repeated everything up to the pirouette combination, making subtle but transformative changes. My favorite involved one of the really common transitional steps, faillé — Ms. T asked us to really make something of it; to carry our arms and shoulders through along the diagonal and make it beautiful. This is something I’ve been working on, and I feel like I really nailed it down pretty well today.

Not perfectly, but pretty well. Better than it has been so far.

On Wednesday, Mme B noted that I was doing a weird thing with my arms in turns from fourth and sorted them for me — so turns today were also much better than they’ve been for a while.

During petit allegro, I finally got my temps de cuisse sorted again, which is comforting. For a while, I kept stepping on my own foot during the shift between the posé phase and the sisson fermé phase. I suspect that may have been a function of not engaging my lower core, and thus losing my turnout on the back leg.

In case you’re unfamiliar with temps de cuisse, it’s a handy little jump that combines a coupé with a sisson fermé.

I still screwed up the combination a bit, though — I kept forgetting that there was a pas de bourree in there and also a second set of entrechats, so I kept going, “Oh!” and winding up a quarter-beat or so behind. Not the end of the world, but not ideal.

We ended with a simple zig-zag grand allegro, one at a time (with the next dancer starting as the previous one zigged for the first time, since there were a million of us in class today).

It went, simply:

tombé à droit
pas de bourrée
saut de chat
tombé à gauche
pas de bourrée
saut de chat

…twice, for a total for four diagonal passes.

Not difficult in terms of steps, but very exposed and timing-critical.

I think my tombés were probably terrible, but it’s also the first time since I received clearance to dance that I’ve done grand allegro (okay, except in Essentials, which almost doesn’t count).

On the other hand, my sautes de chat were pretty decent.

Anyway, I must go do a bunch of cleaning and make a portable dinner for tonight. We’re going to have a picnic with B and N and then go watch U of L’s spring dance gala.

That’s it for now.

À bientôt, mes amis!

Choreography Workshop #1

But first, a few thoughts on teaching.

I gave our Sunday class an exercise with temps-lie (in open fourth) today, and they rocked it out.

There are a billion reasons to love and to use temps-lie — it’s great for teaching how to transfer balance, it helps students figure out how to use their feet, it feels dance-y, etc, etc. Today, though, I discovered one that I’d never thought of: it helps you spot students who are struggling with turnout.

Temps-lie in fourth with turnout is an unusual motor pattern.

In parallel, it’s actually a pretty common kind of movement — you’ve probably done something similar balancing yourself on a moving bus, train, or boat, for example, or reaching for something on a high shelf.

In second, even with turnout, it’s still not terribly unfamiliar.

The combination of turnout and open fourth, however, can make for a really challenging kind of movement. Suddenly, a student faces the potentially brand-new problem of shifting weight through their center of mass while continuing to rotate the hips open.

Students who are still developing the ability to maintain turnout from the rotators and intrinsic muscles at the tops of their legs tend to start to turn in, particularly on the leg that’s passing the weight along — that is, in temps-lié avant, the back leg may tend to turn in as the body is carried over the front leg, for example.

Those who are doing a little better but still not quite on top of the turnout problem will tend to roll the arches of their feet as their knees travel out of alignment. Their thighs may not appear to turn in much, but the rolling arches are a dead giveaway. (The turnout issue becomes more readily apparent when you look at these students from the side.)

Hands-on corrections can make a huge difference in both these situations: first, to indicate which muscles a student should activate to keep turnout going; second, to gently guide the movement of the knees so they track correctly.

Some students may initially feel like passing through temps-lié in fourth without rolling in at the knees is impossible, but it’s not (as long as they work within the purview of their natural turnout). Gentle hands-on guidance can usually solve that problem pretty quickly.

Some of our Sunday students are still finding their turnout, period, which is fine. Given that they’ve only been at this a few weeks, for the most part, I think they’re coming along rather swimmingly.

Next: Choreography Workshop #1

Today, most of us who have submitted acts for the Spring Showcase met to discuss our ideas, get a better sense of how getting-to-the-Showcase will proceed, and so forth. Denis brought his printed spreadsheets of our act, which more than one person found impressive. Heck, I’m still impressed.

After the group discussion, we broke out and worked on our pieces. This was the first time I got to try most of the sequenced choreography for my part.

I must say, I’m quite impressed with the work Denis has done: not only do the moves hang together well (there’s only one spot where the transition isn’t essentially automatic, and I worked out a graceful solution today), but there’s a natural coherence to everything. Incidentally, the moves also sync with the music really nicely, which is a bonus, since Denis’ only music-specific concern was trying not to make the whole thing too freaking long.

Evidently, I also look good doing my part of the act, which is nice. There was a conversation going on about my lines that culminated in someone asking me how long I’d been dancing. That was pretty cool 🙂

I ran through the core of my routine about a dozen times or so — enough to really make the choreography start to gel, since I probably won’t be at the aerials studio again until Tuesday.

All told, between dance and trapeze, I spent about two and a half hours doing physical stuff.

For some reason, I seem to be very hungry. Hmm. Wonder how that happened.

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