2 3 Fun Friday Beats and More Beats | Ballet Webb

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fun Friday Beats and More Beats

Fun Friday Beats and More Beats

Ahhhhhh those challenging beats! When dancers first learn to add a beat to a jump it can be frustrating. That’s because beats take practice. No surprise here.

All beats involve both legs, and dancers first learn beats by perfecting the two basic types: the beat of an entrechat quatre (if the right foot begins in fifth front, the beats occur and the right foot returns (lands) in fifth front where it started); the beat of a royale (the right foot begins in front, the beats occur and the right foot lands in back). In dancer lingo: Royales change feet and enrechat quatres don’t. Notice that I said “beats” plural. That’s because both legs beat, therefore the entrechat quatre is called “quatre” (four), because two legs, each one doing two beats (one front and one back), equals four. (Early dance marketing!)

To break it down to its most basic essence, in order to perform a beat, the dancer must jump high enough to allow the legs to come apart slightly in the air before the beat. This is important! That’s because you can’t beat your legs if they are stuck together any more than you can clap your hands if they are stuck together. So the basic pattern for beats is this: up, open, beat, open (that’s the rebound part), close (land). Also, it is the legs that beat, not just the feet. During beats, think of crossing the thighs. This ensures that the feet will cross correctly – if the thighs cross, the feet will cross.

I usually introduce beats by having students jump from fifth to second position, then jump and beat in fifth and return to a landing in second. Beating in fifth and then opening to second for the landing provides a great feeling of rebound! Gradually reducing the width of the second position helps the students feel (and practice) the two-legged, sideways action (that’s important, too) with a rebound, of a correctly executed beat, and to achieve success sooner.

Historically, beats probably evolved from early folk dances and can be seen in dances like the sailor’s hornpipe (see today’s link featuring the amazing Wayne Sleep).

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Secret #15dd:  
All beats involve both legs and have a rebound.”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“A bird is safe in its nest - but that is not what its wings are made for.”
Amit Ray, World Peace: The Voice of a Mountain Bird

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