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Tackling free allegro/enchainement

Non dancers, you may skip this if you wish. I am only going to bore you.

In the past 2 weeks we have been paying a lot of attention to the free allegro section. For the uninitiated/non dancers who have wandered in on this, free allegro exercises are ones where the teacher will give a series of steps and students have to do them on the spot. Almost like dictation.

And like in dictations, one has to know vocabulary in order to get by. But unlike dictation, free allegro has rhythm and music to go with it. Then, there's arms, head and body alignment to cope too.

First, one must listen carefully when instructions are given. Most teachers, examiners and choreographers are relatively musical. Therefore, they will almost always give the series of steps in the rhythm that is required. Try to catch the phrasing of the sequence and systematically divide them into blocks.

Blocks would mean, for example, a few stationary jumping steps, then perhaps 2 steps to right, then another going clockwise to centre to begin again. The train of thought will be jump, right, circle ................or something like that.

Then there are giveaway steps. Glissade is almost always followed by a jumping step like an assemble or jete. And if a sissonne de cote is asked, it is usually a contra-motion sissonne, meaning, it goes against the glissade's line of dance. ( Didn't I tell you non dancers to stay out? It's going to get even worse. Get out while you can)

But of course, when you attend Teacher Katy's class, she gives the most impossible and improbable sequences for a variety of reasons. A main one will be to stump the socks off you students. Another good reason is I get a real kick watching people tie themselves up in human knots. Absolutely hilarious!

An important point to note would be you gotta know your vocabulary really well. It will be very difficult to execute steps of which is unknown to you. The absolute basic words will be devant, derriere, en avant, en arriere, de cote, croise, ouverte. Then there are those 'formulas' that one has to memorise. Yayayaya, almost like math.

Then, remember you have to be totally focussed throughout the session.
1.   Listen carefully when instructions are given. Try the catch the rhythm and phrasing when it's given.
2.   Try to mark as closely to the step as possible. For example, if the sequence calls for pirouette, do it. If you do not, you might suddenly find that you underestimated the force required to execute a double turn for the particular music tempo.
3.   As I have said before, in a repeated 4 times sequence. The problem is usually in the beginning, whereby you may be caught unaware of the music. Therefore, listen carefully. Almost always, if you start right, you will have no problems with the 2nd sequence. But by the time you have done it twice, you fall into a false sense of security mode. You sort of think that you've done it twice, half way through, so the rest is just repeats. Your brain lets up a bit and you began to think of the upcoming episode of ____________ ( Desperate Housewives, Korean tear jerker, 7PM show..................just fill in the blank) BANG! You are gone! Your third sequence went wrong and you desperately try to correct it but before you can say 'jumping rabbits' the 4th loomed up on you and you are *blimped* Moral: Concentrate lah.
4.   Contrary to thought, arms are not added to confuse or give you more stuff to worry about. Most of the time, arm positions and movements help you to remember the sequence.

There's probably a lot more stuff I can write about but I am falling asleep on the keyboard. I hope this helps.

Reader Comments (19)

Good God! You weren't joking... that bored me nigh to tears. :P
July 9, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjulian
Serve you right. You WERE warned.
July 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
T_T (tears streaming down my face)

Learning a new language is hard enough, putting it into action is worse, moreover must look like you are having a whale of a time.
July 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterWanZ
Hahahahaa.....i'm sure everyone hates free allegro...always get scolding if we can't remember the steps..but it is actually quite fun hey! i think the best is when doing pas de bourree (is that how u spell it?)....oh and sissonnes & pirouettes too!....Just remember all the steps (sissonnes, pas de bourree, glissades,all the allegro exercises) and u will do what teacher said...remember the front, back, side thingee(en avant, en arriere, de cote,etc). it is super important....All the best to those who are taking exam this year. GAMBATTE!! ;)
July 13, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteryivonne
A teacher who inserts Pas de Chats into an enchainment is having a REALLY bad day...
July 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
I LOVE adding Pas De Chats in my enchainements! Does that mean I am always having a bad day? Perhaps. Maybe I was having a good day, then I added a Pas De Chat and the bad day began. Then when the bad day began, I added more Pas De Chats.............. :(
July 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
But darling - there's nothing elegant about a Pas de Chat. It is nothing but a hiccough in an enchainment. It blocks and stumbles (as per your gorgeous poem!). Now a Sissonne is SO much more graceful, poetic, and achievable!!!
Have a good day sweetie - give them sissonnes!
August 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Agreed, to a certain extend regarding Pas De Chat. But you haven't seen Some of the Sissonne my girls give me!!! (do I hear protests from my girls???)
August 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
In my last exam (ok ok it was '97) I had to learn Telemarque (I think that's how you spell it!) which is a combination of betit batterie especially brises. Some of 4, or 5 beats. Do you teach these? What is their background/development/origin?
Please? :-)
August 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
No I don't :) I do teach whole huge combinations of batterie though.
In my opinion, they were devised to tie people up in knots. And also to give the teacher a good time laughing at those human knots.
Seriously, batterie exercises are good. One has to to be nimble, quick with brain and feet.Don't you think so?
August 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
Actually (Look out for the big head) I used to enjoy petit batterie. Probably because it was one of the few things I felt I could do well.
And yes, I enjoy watching pupils struggle to remember your impossible combinations!!!!!!!
Its great to watrch and should be fun to do. Much better than pirouettes...
August 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Me too!! :p. No wonder we're such pals. I love allegros. Remember those pirouette classes on Fridays?
August 14, 2005 | Registered CommenterKaty
I don't think I wil EVER forget Mr Donaldson's pirouette class. I tried, and tried SO hard. Just when you'd cracked a single he wanted a double. Eventuallu you cracked that (complete with perfect starting and finishing positions, no wobbles, no movement out of 5th, and sometimes en pointe) and he'd demand a triple! arghh!!!!!
He was a great teacher though - I never felt berrated - I just wanted to be able to do it for him. Sadly he was let down, week, after week, after week....
August 18, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Donaldson? Was that his name? I can't remember but I do remember not being afraid of pirouettes anymore.
These days, I'll be happy if I do a single and not feel dizzy..........ah the olde bones
August 18, 2005 | Registered CommenterKaty
Don't you remember him?!!!! VERY tight trousers...hmmm!

I'd be grateful to stand up these days without feeling dizzy!!!
August 22, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Darling, I believe it's Donald something, not Donaldson :p But it's ok, we WILL forget.
August 22, 2005 | Registered CommenterKaty
Donald McClelland?
August 23, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Been cracking my brain. I believe it's Donald McLennon. Looks more familiar?
August 23, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
I dunno. The tight trousers did it for me... :-)
August 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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