By David Arce
For successful finger turns, it’s important for the female partner to ronde de jambe her working leg a full 90 degrees, from devant to à la seconde, before pulling it back into a turned-out passé. If she rushes this movement and cuts short its path in space, she’ll sacrifice needed force and energy. Have students visualize tapping an imaginary wall with the toe at the farthest point in à la seconde before pulling the leg back into passé.
As pairs practice, have them work together to find equal opposing force between the female dancer’s supporting arm and the male dancer’s push-off arm. The male dancer should keep his partner’s hand in a comfortable second-position port de bras so she can use her supporting core muscles properly. A common mistake is the male dancer setting up his push-off arm behind the female’s supporting shoulder; this placement is uncomfortable for her and breaks the line.
Make sure pairs can achieve proper mechanics slowly and cleanly in single turns before moving on to multiple turns. Begin by practicing single turns with limited force, reminding female partners to aim for a floating sensation in the ronde de jambe into passé. Practicing single turns without music allows the pairs to feel each other without the stress of worrying about timing and counts. Eventually they’ll find the proper coordination and timing for the working leg and the push-off. The push-off should happen at the exact moment the female dancer taps her imaginary wall in à la seconde.
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.