Terminology; the correct, the incorrect, and the made up entirely

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Classroom terminology, the right, the wrong, and the made up entirely. The verbal cues we give to our students can help or hurt them in the long-run of their training and beyond. How do we ensure that our vocal cues match our physical cues, and that it’s all as accurate as possible?

There are a few common terms that get interchanged frequently in classrooms that should not be interchangeable.  My personal favorites being the difference between relevé and elevé, and grande jete versus saut de chat.  Let’s discuss! A relevé (or as a verb, relever – to raise), comes from plié, thus enabling jumps to happen as the progression, whereas elevé rises from straight legs and would not be a place to progress a jump from.  Why does this matter? Simply put, to be technically correct. I strongly believe in offering our students information that’s as correct as possible, to ensure that dancers are being given functional ideas – does this work in a progression to my next action? And if the answer is no, how do I then reassess what the ask is so that it will be effective.

There are some steps that have many names, perhaps depending on location, who your teacher is, etc. The debate on their correctness could be boiled down to an accurate description given in Ballet terms. What I grew up knowing as an “air barrel” someone else grew up calling a “calypso”, and what I grew up referring to as a “calypso” goes by “double stag jump” to many. Who is right? All of us, because it’s what we were taught, and also none of us to an extent. Any of these jumps could come from a few different preparations, so it leaves us with the notion that offering the most correct version, whatever the base actions are, to our students is imperative for safety and function. This ensures that the technical asks of them is done in verbiage that is accurate.

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