Improving Glissades

Hi everybody!  Today I’m doing a quick blog post to help you all out with your glissades. They are used constantly in both classical and contemporary ballets, so it is a very good step to learn how to do correctly.  Enjoy.

The Styles of Glissade

Glissade means “to glide.” That automatically gives the step a smooth and uplifted quality – it shouldn’t become sharp, rigid, or suprising.  It is also characterised as a connecting or transition step, used between major jumps during petite or grande allegro combinations.

But, regardless of these standards for a glissade, different historical figures in ballet have created their own version of what they believe the glissade should look like.  The classical glissade emphasies the change in weight between both feet, and the step is more grounded.  George Balanchine and more modern influencers liked the glissade to be more elevated and the emphasis to be on the second position in the air.  It changes the dynamic of the step, but the basics are still the same.

In addition to a difference in glissade between styles, there is also a difference in context of movement.  Glissade can be used as a transition step in adagio and other slower-moving combinations, which completely changes the dynamic of the jump.  In fact, it changes the step from a jump to almost a pas de basque motion.

Glissade Basics

There is a basic criteria for a good glissade and a specific set of directoins on how to do the step, regardless which training style you have.

A glissade is technically defined as a jump from one leg to the other, with the weight transfer happening in the air.  So, dégagé alisicon with the supporting leg in plié.  Push off from that leg to hit a second position, and then land in dégagé alisicion with plié on the other leg.  Close to fifth position.

Remember that the weight transitions and dégagés should be smooth and all connected as one step.  It means “to glide,” which is very different from choppy.  But, don’t be frustrated if you don’t get this at first – it takes practice to be graceful in this step especially.

If you are doing a Balanchine-style glissade, make sure to emphasise the second position in the air between transfers of weight.  The landings are also more swift in the Balanchine style.

A Few Tips

Finally, I’ll give a few of my tips for glissades.

Allow the movement to come from underneath your legs.  If you dégagé way too far back for your turnout range, the transfer of weight will be difficult and the entire jump will become sloppy.  So, keep your legs coming from underneath and practice keeping the dégagé within your range of rotation.

Make sure you focus on your weight placement when you are doing glissades in a square. You need to make sure your weight is in the right place for the next glissade as you close from the one before in order to make the transition quick and easy.  But don’t worry – this takes practice, so don’t fret if you don’t get it right away.

Finally, make sure to hit a clean fifth position between every glissade.  It is the small details that count when you get to auditions and important performances on stage – the audience doesn’t want to see a giant full-split saut de chat if the glissade ends turned in. So, focus on the details and you will be successful in any ballet step.

Thanks for reading.  See you Friday 🙂

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