Multiple Ronds de Jambe
By David Arce
When a barre combination includes multiple ronds de jambe, students frequently need to be reminded to draw a complete half circle on the floor with the working toe before starting the next rond de jambe. I find that all my students need this reminder, no matter their level of training or how fast or slow the tempo.
In addition to “preemptive corrections” (correcting before students attempt a step), try slowing down the tempo. This allows students to take the time to feel each position when moving from devant to derrière (en dedans) or from derrière to devant (en dehors) so that they don’t cloche through first position prematurely. Pick up the tempo only when students can draw complete circles on the ground without the hips wobbling.
Another mistake often seen in multiple ronds de jambe is cutting short the final one to close in fifth. To correct this, try giving one fewer rond de jambe than the music suggests. I no longer give rond de jambe combinations that finish exactly on the end of a musical phrase, because students rarely get to tendu derrière before closing to fifth.
Take, for example, this combination: eight ronds de jambe en dehors, four without port de bras, four with port de bras; repeat en dedans. Instead, leave off the last rond de jambe in each set of eight, allotting that entire eighth count to closing from tendu derrière to fifth. This allows the student to feel a fully crossed tendu, then close to a tidy fifth, before reversing or finishing.
Remember, a rond de jambe combination at the barre is a gateway for students to dance—it’s the first barre exercise in which they move through multiple positions.
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.