February 2015 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Glissades in Petit Allegro

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Glissades in Petit Allegro

By David Arce

Tip 1
Glissades are common connecting steps for jumps and therefore important for students to master. There are two major types: 1) glissades in petit allegro, which close in fifth position, and 2) glissades in medium or grand allegro, which failli through fifth to end in or continue through fourth position.

In petit allegro, I find that students need to be reminded frequently of the importance of returning the second leg to a clean fifth in each glissade. A late or lazy second leg does not set up a dancer properly for the next jump and makes exercises—and choreography—look sloppy.

To address this, give this simple combination: glissade à la seconde on 1, hold in fifth on 2, repeat across the floor. This allows students to focus on the mechanics of the sequence: plié, brush out the first leg, immediately straighten the second leg, and drive the second heel back into fifth. It also demonstrates that in a petit allegro glissade the weight does not transfer from one leg to the other.

Tip 2
Another way to teach glissades in petit allegro is by clapping the rhythm of the steps. Before students attempt a combination, I have them clap its rhythm along to the music. For each glissade, the clapped rhythm should be two very fast claps, the first for their legs fully stretched in à la seconde dégagés, the second for their feet returning to fifth position. Clapping the rhythm allows students to hear what their legs must do, and it prepares them for the point in the music when they should be finished with the glissade.


David Arce, artistic director of Juline Regional Youth Ballet and a teacher at Juline School of Dance in Modesto (CA), trained at Ballet Yuma and San Francisco Ballet School and danced 12 seasons with SF Ballet.