Improving Rond de Jambe

Rond de jambe is usually around the fifth combination you do in your daily ballet class. That makes it one of the most important elements of your technique that you build up every day.  Today I will be offering my tips for improving your rond de jambes, as well as the purpose and other information about the step.  Enjoy 🙂

The Purpose

Every step has a purpose, whether it is aesthetics or a warm up exercise, whether it is inner or outer beauty.  Rond de jambe isn’t too impressive – anybody off of the street could give you a rond de jambe.  While it may not be high quality, it is still the correct step – that wouldn’t be true for fouettés or a saut de basque.

Because the step is so simple, it serves more of an inner purpose and a foundation that will build and lead into greater things.

Rond de jambe is the first turnout-concentrated exercise in the ballet class.  While turnout is still a necessity in all combinations before rond de jambes, it is not the sole purpose of the exercise.  Let’s take a look at the foundations you build with each exercise as class progresses:

  1. Pliés – Release
  2. Tendus – Articulation
  3. Dégagés – Length
  4. Rond de jambe – Rotation
  5. Frappés – Speed
  6. Fondus – Resistance

So, we know that rond de jambe builds rotation, otherwise known as turnout, or external rotation of the hips.  It increases strength, warmth, and mobility in the six external rotator muscles of the hip:

  • Piriformis
  • Quadratus femoris
  • Gemellus superior
  • Gemellus inferior
  • Obturator internus
  • Obturator externus



Variations & styles of rond de jambe

A rond de jambe translates into “circle of the leg.”  But really, you are creating a half circle.  You begin in first position, and battement tendu devant.  By reaching out, your leg moves to alisicon, staying in the fully stretched tendu position.  Your leg then comes to écarté derrière, menaing past alisicion.  This is where the turnout is truly challenged – you must not loose your rotation in this tricky moment.  The leg then comes to tendu derrière before performing a cloche or balançoire through first position, and then the process repeats.  This is a rond de jambe en dehors à terre.

The reverse of this would be a rond de jambe à terre en dedans, where the leg would battement tendu derrière to arabesque, reach to tendu ècarté derrière, to alisicion, and finally to devant, before the cloche is performed.

Grand rond de jambe is when you do the same movements described above, but with your leg off the floor.  This can often be confused with rond de jambe en l’air, which is described below.

Rond de jambe en l’air isn’t rond de jambe à terre off the floor, as you would expect.  In extension alisicon at 90 degrees, your leg comes directly in to retiré, maintaining the position of the knee.  The foot then comes slightly forwards as the leg extends back out to 90 degrees.  This makes rond de jambe en l’air en dehors.

For en dedans, the foot circles slightly forwards as it comes into retiré, and then extends straight out from retiré de coté to extension a la seconde.

You’ll notice that in rond de jambe en l’air, the leg never makes a full circle by going behind the frontal plane of the body.  This is because it would involve a loss of turnout in the hips, and an internal rotation of the knee.  It would also affect the posture.  So, the leg always must come in and forwards, or forwards and out.

Rond de jambe à terre has a few stylistic changes.  The first is the musicality.  In most Balanchine-style style schools and a few others, the accent of the rond de jambe is in the tendu alisicon, not to the front or the back.  More classical schools have the accent on the 1 being to the front or back.

The size of the rond de jambe is also considered in different style sand schools.  Some training systems make the rond de jambe “1:00 – 5:00”, or “2:00 – 4:00.”  This makes the rond de jambe less than a half circle.  Most classical schools keep the rond de jambe “12:00 – 6:00,” being a full half circle.

Tips for rond de jambe

The most tricky part of rond de jambe is maintaining your turnout from the side to the back in en dehors.  The opposite of this would be getting your leg fully rotated in the transition from back to side.

There are not many tricks I can give you technique-wise to improving your turnout…there is no magic spell or quick fix.  The best I can do is refer you to my many workouts and technique tips regarding the subject:

The one technique tip I can tell you is for that tricky, clunky moment from the side to the back.  It helps me, especially in grand rond de jambe, to think of lengthening my leg out more ot make room for the femur bone to rotate freely in the hip socket.

To avoid doing the hoola with your hips during rond de jambe à terre, make sure you are getting your heel down as soon as possible in the cloche.  If you keep your heel up, the hip will stay lifted, and then circle back down again as you bring the leg to the side.  The sooner you can get the heel down, the less compensation the hip will have to do for the leg.  To help this, I like to think of going through a small and floor-connected fourth position as my foot drags into first position.

I hope this post is very helpful to you, and I’m excited to get back to my full posting schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week.  But, for now, I’ll see you on Friday!

P.S. I hope you are loving the new blog design!  Be sure to leave me your feedback by emailing

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