Tombé Pas de Bourrée and Royale
By David Arce
Tombé pas de bourrée is one of classical ballet’s most common connecting steps, and it lends itself to all forms of center work. Yet its importance is often overlooked, and it can wind up being a combination’s sloppiest-looking step. Students may spend most of their mental energy on preparing for the trick that follows the tombé pas de bourrée, forgetting that in dance, every step counts.
For a cleaner tombé pas de bourrée, remind students to start from a tendu devant; then, keeping the standing leg straight, they should extend the line of the tendu to tombé (fall) into a turned-out lunge. Falling past the tendu devant helps the dancer travel farther and attain a well-placed lunge; cutting the tombé short may result in a turned-in front leg.
Graduating from changements to royales can leave even the most talented students feeling “toe-tied.” A simple way for them to feel the correct sensation in a royale is to break down the step.
First, have students échappé from fifth position to second a few times. Next, have them jump from fifth to land in first. Finally, have them jump from fifth, open their legs to the sides in the air as if to land in first, then close to land back in fifth (without changing the feet). Once students master opening their legs side to side (not front to back), have them try adding the battu to change the feet. This exercise can also be done facing the barre before moving to the center; make sure students keep their backs aligned and don’t look down while jumping.
David Arce is artistic director of Juline Regional Youth Ballet and a teacher at Juline School of Dance in Modesto, California. He trained at Ballet Yuma and San Francisco Ballet School and danced 12 seasons with SF Ballet.