In grade five dance quality and artistry are now being introduced into the work.
The build-up to arm circles is:
Primary – Warm-up B
Grade One – Warm-up
This warm-up is made up of 2 sections. Section A is in the center and section B is at the barre.
In this section, there are triple runs forwards and backwards for the first time. As this is a 3/4, remember the accent is on the first beat of the bar. The foot action is down, up, down.
Practice the triple run on the diagonal. The first step is forward, the second step joins to the leading foot and the third steps forward. Once the footwork is accomplished add in the circular arm action. The first arm circle comes forward to finish forward, the second arm circle goes backward to finish with arms out to the side.
This movement is quite hard to coordinate with the legs, as the arms and legs need to work together and arrive at the end point simultaneously.
The next part of the exercise we have seen in a few exercises in the lower grades. Recap over this action making sure that there is height at the top of the arm action. The foot and arm action need to be working as one. The feet should be up on the demi-pointe as the arm action is at its highest.
Make sure the back doesn’t arch on the turn with the horizontal arm circle. Keep control in the core and in the arms.
The shoulder roll should only be in the upper back, avoid any temptation to take the action into the lower back. When rolling the shoulder think of the shoulder working downwards. The head should turn slightly over the shoulder. DON’T force the head turn. Keep the chin lifted.
The lunge action is very similar to the Grade 2 warm up forward stretch at the barre. The back should be straight and the lunge should have a good elongated feel to it. The head should be at the top of the alignment traveling down to the foot. Make sure the arms are straight but not locked out, the head is in line with the arms and the front knee is over the toes.
The build-up to a forward port de bras is:
Grade 3 – Circular arm action in the warm-up
Grade 4 – Circular arm action in the warm-up
Circular port de bras in port de bras
The build-up to full pliés is:
Grade 1 – Full plié in 2nd position facing the barre.
Grade 2 – 1st and 3rd facing the barre.
Grade 3 – 1st and 3rd sideways to the barre.
Grade 4 – 5th position sideways from the barre.
The build-up to soutenus is:
Grade 4 – Grands battement exercise
In this exercise, we see a forward port de bras. We haven’t had this action before in any of the previous grades.
This exercise needs leg and arm co-ordination. At the beginning of this exercise the arms are working faster than the demi plié. They double up on the plié action. This can lead to the plié becoming jerky and loses the smooth flow that is required of the plié.
Forward port de bra
A feeling of lift is vital when taking the action forward. Be careful that the head doesn’t get left behind when going into the action. The head must always stay in line with the back. The arm that is in 2nd should be held in line with the body as the body is taken forward.
As the weight is taken forward, keep the back as straight as possible. This will come down to the flexibility of each individual. Some will be able to go further forward than others depending on the tightness in the hamstrings and back. There is a strong tendency to let the legs sway backwards which allows the upper body to drop lower, but this must be avoided at all times. The weight should be held over the toes with weight out of the heels.
When the action can’t go any further forward with a straight back, allow the head to drop forward and the back will slightly bend. At this point the arm to 2nd will come down and into 5th position.
As the body starts coming back up, keep the back straight and the head in line with the arm.
The full plié has been seen throughout the grades. The golden rule should always be followed. Keep heels in place for as long as possible and place down as soon as possible.
Soutenu en dehors
We have seen a soutenu en dedan. The same principles apply but in reverse. Make sure that the hips don’t move with the leg action. Hips must stay facing the line of dance. The turnout must be sustained throughout the movement.
FOOT EXTENSIONS 2/4
The build-up to a petite retiré is:
Grade One – Foot exercise
Grade Four – Battement fondu and developpe
The build-up to glissés is:
Grade One – Foot exercise
Grade Two – Battement tendus and glissés
Grade Three – Tendus and glissés with weight transference
The foot is placed at the side of the ankle in this exercise. They are taken devant and derrière.
This action is new to Grade Five. The foot is taken either into the devant or derrière position, then degagéd into a fondu. The foot must stay at ankle height. The foot is placed à terre as the fondu is executed. That sequence is a petit developpé. Make sure that the leg stays turned out and that the actions are precise and in unison.
The following principles apply to glissés devant as they do to glissés to 2nd. The pressure through the floor determines the height of the working foot. The working foot needs to stay turned out and have a tight closing position in 3rd. Make sure that the toe of the working foot is gently pulled back to achieve a careful placement into 3rd position. The glissé action devant should have the heel leading.
Step forward with all the weight going in to the front foot. Join the back foot to the front foot making sure that the body weight is central. Feet are in a closed 5th position, ensuring that there is a good strong instep stretch. As this step is popular, when it comes to pointe work all the weight needs to be up and over.
Pas de bourrée piqué
Pique means to pick up and this is what this step should demonstrate the picking up of the feet. In this exercise, the weight is taken onto the front foot and the back leg is picked up into a petit retiré position derriére. The weight is then transferred onto the back leg as the front leg is taken up to full retiré height. The body turns to face the other direction. The back leg is lifted into a full retiré thus making a pas de bourrée pique.
The knees must stay turned out especially as the action is turning, it is very easy for the knees to turn in and turnout is lost. Maintain a good instep stretch as this action is a popular one for point work.
ADAGE AT THE BARRE 2/4
The buid-up to developpés is:
Grade Four – Battement fondus and developpés
We are now seeing a new step come into the grade and this action is the demi grande rond de jambe.
A developpé devant the leg should extend from the knee downwards, the top of the leg should stay firmly in place. On the extension get a feeling of the heel pushing forward this will help to encourage turnout.
A developpé derrieré the top of the leg should stay firmly in place, make sure the knee doesn’t drop as the leg is extended.
Demi grande rond de jambe
This is a complexed action and needs to have strength in the hip, leg, core and back, to hold the leg in an extended position and carry it to the side of the body without losing turnout or height.
The developpé determines the height of the leg that the demi grande rond de jambe is set at. The leg needs to maintain this height throughout the demi grande rond de jambe.
The action should be smooth, continuous and have no jerkiness as the leg is rotating in the hip. Be careful that the leg doesn’t drop once it has reached the second position, it should be lowered with strength and ease.
A training exercise for demi grand rond de jambe is to stand sideways on the barre and gently lift the leg. Make sure that you are supporting the ankle and the hamstring. Gently take the leg to 90 degrees and carry it from the devant position to the a la seconde position. Make sure the leg can rotate in your hands as it is taken to 2nd position. The leg shouldn’t dip as it arrives to a la second. This action from front to side is en dehors.
Now repeat the process but starting derriere. This action from back to side is en dedans. This action is harder than en dehors as the pelvis tends to tip and there is a tendency to lift the hip as the leg is coming into the second position.
If there is an issue with tight hips and lack of turnout this is something that will need to be addressed. Begin to incorporate into stretching exercises into the class.
This means to whip and this is the first fouetté in the syllabus as we turn the body towards the barre using 4 simple fouetté actions. The toe MUST stay in place on the supporting foot as the heel places and replaces taking you in the direction you wish to go in. Strength is needed in the ankle and foot to make this a clean precise action. The movement should be smooth and the heel should be placed down gently after each fouetté. The supporting leg staying straight at all times.
GRANDS BATTEMENTS WITH EN CLÔCHE 2/4
The build-up to Grands Battements is:
Primary – Step and pointe with balance
Grade One – Preparatory Grands Battements
Grade Two – Grand Battement exercise / Combination of preparatory grands battements and full grands battements
Grade Three – Full grands battements en croix
Grade Four – Full grands battements en croix
The build-up to cloches is:
Grade Three – Tendus and glisses with weight transference
Refer back to previous notes regarding grands battements.
In Grade Three a battement glissé en cloche is executed. Then a battement en cloche is seen in this grade. Nothing changes in the respect of how we execute an en cloche, as it is a grands battement the leg goes higher. This could then cause some rocking of the upper body and a twisted alignment in the hips.
As the speed picks up be mindful of the foot positioning touching the floor as it passes through 1st position and maintaining the turnout. The hips need to work hard to keep them in place.
Each grands battement has a plié before it. Use this plié to get power running through the legs to project the working leg upwards. No leaning forward in the action as the movement comes from the legs.
Control is key here and the working leg should feel supported as it returns back into 5th position. It should not just be dropped.
PROGRESSIVE DEMI POINTE ENCHAÎNMENT – GIRLS 3/4
The build-up to corus is:
Grade Three – Battement fondu and attitude prep
Grad Four – Set Adage
This would make a good practice pointe work exercise.
This exercise can easily become complicated as the footwork is over thought. The action of placing the weight on the front or back leg should have a feeling of smoothness and be seamless. When traveling en avant make sure that all the weight is going into the front foot and the body weight is up and over the leading leg. Avoid any tilting of the supporting leg or pushing down on the barre.
On the en avant action, the back foot is placed behind the knee, this movement should be executed in one action as the weight is projected over the front foot. Maintain a good turnout, it is easy to push the back knee forward as the action is moving forward. This position could represent a pirouette position or a pose turn position. As the weight is transferred to the back leg (same as a coupé), the front foot should be tightly placed in a petit retire devant position making sure that turnout has been maintained.
The action en arriere is also a Temps lie movement. Make sure that the weight pushes backward and once again as in the en avant action, the weight is taken up and over with the second foot closing in a tight 5th.
As the weight is transferred to the front foot, the back foot lifts into a petit retire derrière position (same as a coupe).
The Corus turning to change direction should be pulled into a strong 5th position. Remember that the back foot always leads. Look back over previous notes regarding corus.
PROGRESSIVE DEMI POINTE ENCHAÎNMENT – BOYS 3/4
The boy’s version is totally different to the girls and has its own complexed steps. There is a change of direction from en avant to facing the barre. Core strength and power through the legs is essential in this exercise.
En avant action
The first step is a demi plié into a battement glissé, into a temp lié. The action is quick and goes from executing a demi plié straight into the battement glissé. The glissé should stay under control keeping it low. It is the back leg that projects into the temps lie. All the weight is going into the front foot and the body weight is up and over the leading leg. Avoid any tilting of the supporting leg or pushing down on the barre.
Facing the barre
Strength is now needed as we see a relevé on one foot. Don’t use the barre to push up into this position. Power for this action comes through the legs and a strong ankles are required.
Make sure that the ankles don’t roll and the supporting leg is pulled up with the body weight out of the legs.
When taking the movement to the demi plié in 2nd, the body weight should stay central and isn’t taken over the leg. Power comes from the 2nd position to push into the pirouette position.
PORT DE BRAS WITH BALANCÉS 3/4
The build-up for balancés is:
Grade Three – Balancés de côte
Grade Four – Balancés en avant and en arrière
The build-up for chassè passé is:
Grade Three – Ronds de jambe exercise
The build-up for courus is:
Grade Three – Battement fondu and attitude prep exercise
The build-up for a full retire is:
Grade One – Foot exercise
Grade Two – Pirouette prep and retire
Grade Three – Grands Battements
Grade Four – Set Adage
Note: The arms can either be in 4th crossed, ordinaire or opposition.
In a 3/4 time signature the first beat of the bar is the strongest.
We have seen all the steps that are needed to make up this exercise.
The balancés now have a change of direction from en face to en avant and en arriére. The important aspect for this part of the exercise is to get the body alignment correct. Hips and shoulders must face the line of dance. The change of direction should be fluid.
The courus are taken en arriére, allow the fondu into the courus to be soft with a high instep stretch in the courus. Legs stay held together.
This is the first time a full retiré on a rise with a quarter turn has been seen in the syllabus. Turnout must be sustained. Keep the body stacked so that the weight stays central. Push through the instep to attain a high demi pointe. Balance, core, stability and strength are all main factors to this exercise.
The boys movements are virtually the same as the girls, but instead of the chassé passé they take 7 broad walks in their own circle, followed by a temps lie de côte, into a demi detourne.
SET ADAGE – GIRLS 3/4
The build-up for posés is:
Preparatory – Walking and running
Grade One – Progressive enchaînment
Grade Three – Classical walks with port de bras
The build-up for circular port de bras is:
Grade Three – Warm up
Grade Four – Warm up
Grade Four – Port de bras
The build-up for transference of weight is:
Preparatory – Sways and gallops
Primary – Transference of weight exercise
Grade Three – Tendus and glisses with weight transference
Grade Five – Boys demi pointe enchaînment
The build- up to pas de bouree pique is:
Grade Five – Foot extensions
The build-up for demi detournes is:
Barre work from Grade One
Grade Four – Comes into center for Allegro warm up
There is a girls and boys version of this exercise and the ending is the teachers choice.
Most of the steps in this exercise we have seen before so it is a case of adding them all together into this sequence. The new step is pas de bourrée piqué.
In this exercise, the weight must be over the front leg allowing the back leg to lift off. As the foot passes through from derriere to devant, the foot needs to be at calf height. Keep the turnout as the leg passes through. The arms must flow smoothly in time with the leg action.
Make sure that the back doesn’t arch in any way as it should be in alignment with the leg.
Circular port de bras
Don’t allow too much movement in the back. Engage the core to stop movement in the body. The arms should pass through 3rd, 3rd and 4th. The weight should be fully over the front leg with a stable turnout. There is a tendency to throw the arms behind the body line when passing through 4th position. Power through the front leg as the weight is pulled back up into the attitude position. Keep the weight out of the back foot.
Transference of weight en arrière
The weight should be central when passing through the 4th position with the pelvis tucked under, both heels down and knees over toes. The weight should finish on the back foot allowing the front foot to extend in the devant position.
3rd arabesque en l’air
The leg is passed from degagé en avant to en arrière en l’air. The foot passes through 1st position with the heel placing down on the floor. When lifting en l’air spot (looking at something that isn’t moving). This will help with balance. The supporting leg should be straight and weight out the of the hip. Hips and shoulders not tilting.
Pas de bourrée piqué
The footwork still needs to be precise and picked up with the foot placing under the knee on every movement. Promote turn out in the hip. Now this exercise is danced in the centre balance is crucial.
Demi detourné and chassé en arrière
Spotting is required for a demi detourné turning the head to the line of dance.
Chassé en arriére:
The heel must be down on the back foot and the body weight should travel with the movement. Keeping feet hip-width apart and weight central. Avoid the pelvis tipping outwards.
PIROUETTE EN DEHORS 2/4
The build-up for pirouette en dehors is:
Grade Two – Pirouette prep at the barre
Grade Four – Pirouette prep at the barre
Grade Four – Pivot turns
Grade Four – Set Adage Boys
The build-up to echappé relevés is:
Grade Three – Grands Battements
It is advisable to start teaching turns in the lower grades. Simple step turns from the corner building up to turns in place. Confidence is so important when achieving pirouettes.
The shoulders are used in a pirouette not the arms. The body should be stacked with the hips down and level, shoulders also down and level. A relaxed head movement for spotting. The weight stays stacked so that the body weight isn’t thrown backwards.
The understanding in which way the pirouette turns when going in the en dehors direction is important.
The foot must be underneath the knee when turning.
Echappe releve in 2nd and 4th
Legs are hip-width apart and are rotated. Make sure the feet don’t jump out to 2nd or 4th. They should be in contact with the floor at all times. Power coming from the demi plié. There should be lightness in the step.
Pirouette en dehors
The relevé should be secure and with the foot under the knee and the body stacked. Have a good spotting action of the head, keeping it relaxed. Land in a strong demi plié ready to execute the next echappe releve. This step needs to have confidence behind it.
ALLEGRO WARM-UP 6/8
The build-up for jetés is:
Grade Two: Jeté prep exercise at the barre
Grade Two – Allegro enchainment
Grade Three: Allegro Enchainment
Grade Four: Progressive Enchainment
The build-up for pas de boureés is:
Pas de bourree under
Grade Three: Set adage centre exercise.
Grade Four: Allegro warm up
The build-up for changements is:
Grade One – Allegro Warm-up
Grade Two – Allegro Warm-up
Grade Three – Tendus and Glisses with weight transference
This exercise should be executed with a feeling of bounce and lightness in the movements. In this exercise, we see a jeté en avant and a jeté en arriere.
Jeté temp levé
The same principles apply to the jeté in the centre, as they are applied to the jeté at the barre. Good pressure through the floor, which will help with elevation.
Jeté en avant
The hip to knee still wants to stay still and the action is coming from under the knee. The projection onto the front foot is coming from pushing off the back leg. The front foot must still have pressure on the floor and the foot must fully extend.
Jeté en arriere
This can be quite hard to perform and especially as it follows the temp levé. Sometimes the back heel is neglected to be placed down and proving to be an awkward step. There should still be pressure through the floor with the whole foot being placed down. The projection comes from pushing off the front foot.
Make sure there is good stretch on the underneath foot in the temp levé action.
Pas de bourree over
The same principles will apply to a pas de bourree over as its does to a pas de bourree under. Instead of the foot being placed behind the foot is placed in front and finishes behind. There is no leg extension for this pas de bourree. The positioning of the foot before it is placed down is into the ankle devant. Make sure the turnout is maintained as the foot is placed down devant. Keep the feet tight together as the pas de bourree is performed.
In all the previous grades leading up to Grade Five, the changements have stayed in either at the barre or in place in the centre. In this exercise the changements are turning by half a turn. Good use of spotting is vital to help with balance and not throwing the body weight backwards.
Refer back to the pivot turns in Grade Four for spotting.
Sometimes there can be some confusion on foot placement when turning as it can become disorienting. Be mindful also in which direction the changemets are meant to be turning.
PAS DE BASQUE ENCHAÎNMENT 3/4
The build-up for pas be basque is:
Grade Four: Port de bras
The exercise can be performed with either a glissé or a sauté. This is the examiners choice as to which one is performed in the exam, so both options should be learned.
The pas de basque sauté is the new step in this grade. A pas de basque should have a seamless feel to it. The arm positioning is working in harmony with the leg action.
Pas de basque sauté
The step is identical but instead of the glissé action, there is a small execution of an elongated jump from the supporting foot onto the working foot. This is done as the working leg is taken to 2nd position. The action is long and low and doesn’t need to have any great height to it.
The other steps in this exercise are listed below and have been performed throughout the syllabus. They would be well rehearsed by now.
Posé temps levé:
The temps levés are now turning by half a turn, use spotting to help with the direction. 2 temps levés make 1 half turn.
SISSONES EN AVANT 3/4
This exercise is danced individually, once through, with own choice of arms. Each student can have different arm lines.
The sissone is a new step in the syllabus, there hasn’t been any exercises that prepare for this step.
There are 3 different types of sissonnes.
Fermées which is when the back leg closes into the front leg.
Ouvert is when the back leg stays extended out and DOESN’T close to the working leg.
Changées is when the legs change in the air and finish closing.
The sissone action is what we call a 2 to 1. Start with both feet on the floor and land on one foot. The action should look like scissors cutting as the legs come apart and then return back together.
Start by teaching each individual sissone on its own. Only mix them together when each one has been mastered.
There should be power through the legs to achieve a proficient sissone. Landing in an accomplished plié for the fermées and changées.
Be careful that the sissones doesn’t turn into forward jetés and the action is upwards more than forwards.
On landing, as the back leg is closed into 5th the first thing to touch the floor is the toe. There is a great temptation for the foot to have no contact with the floor and just place straight into 5th position.
With the action being jumpy make sure the arm action is held and moves effortlessly.
FULL CONTRETEMPS 3/4
The build – up to a posé assemble soutenu is:
Grade 2 – Ronds de jambes
Grade 3 – Ronds de jambes
Grade 4 – Plié exercise (demi assemble soutenu)
Grade 4 – Grands battements (full assemble soutenu)
Grade 4 – Boys set adage ( soutenu en dedans
This exercise is danced individually and joins together with the other students to finish the exercise which is arranged by the teacher.
A full contretemps is made up of a coupé under, chassé en avant, temps levé in arabesque, chassé passé en avant.
A full contretemps starts with a coupé.
All of these steps have been taught throughout the grades so it is just a case of linking them together.
The posé assemblé soutenu en tournant is a new step. Practise at the barre before transferring the move into the centre.
All the weight is lifted out of the supporting leg. Hips not tipping and body weight stacked.
Now that this step is taken in the centre, strength and control is vital, making sure that the leg action isn’t swung. The movement should not be compromised but perfectly placed starting from derrière and continuing round to devant. Pulling up into a tight retiré which continues seamlessly into the demi detournè.
GIRLS AND BOYS REVERENCE 4/4
This is a more complexed reverence incorporating chassé en arrière. All the chassés we have seen so far have been en avant. The same principles apply en arrière as they do en avant. Make sure that the pelvis doesn’t tip as the movement travels backwards. That both feet stay firmly on the floor with no rolling in the ankles.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
If you would like to have a go at some questions regarding this grade click the link below.