Thinking through assemblé

We all have that one step, you know that one thing which is just so hard to communicate to your feet, no matter how much you think your brain has grasped it.

For me, this is assemblé. It just makes me feel like a baby elephant. Really ungainly.

Aww baby elephant allegro.

Aww baby elephant allegro.

I wrote here ages ago about this, and my search for some tutorial vids. I guess it goes to show how long you have to think about and sit with a step sometimes before you start to feel any progress or “click” with it.

I’m still not comfortable with them in the centre at all, but I am feeling pretty good at the barre practicing them. I think my problem is that I am holding back from my plié and into the jump so I don’t actually have time/space to “assemble” properly. I think this just is fear that I will somehow break my ankles!

I have to perform assembles as part of the exam I’m working towards. I’m really learning to love allegro, although I don’t think it is my strong suit – I am an adage girl really and truly.


Thinking through Pas de Basque

Unfortunately this is the best I could find on Youtube, only 17 seconds-worth:

But wait!

Here is lovely with a verbal break-down of the step:

Don’t over think it though, it’s just a quick: prepare, quarter circle, hop onto it, step through.

They can come from the front or back.
-tendu fondue front
-quarter ronde de jambe to the side
-your legs out to the side, imagine you are already half way through a glissade and finish the glissade (toward the tendu foot) closing the old standing foot front).
-chase forward to tendu back. (alternately you just bring the closing leg in through coup de pied and just step forward… depends on what’s given)

But don’t over think it. It’s a lovely step when you just let it happen


Amazing, right? Like having your own personal instruction manual!

I need words to help think things through, even when the thinking is in my body, as in dance. Perhaps this is why my favourite teacher is very vocal, with a hilarious phrase for just about everything to boot. Port de bras over to the barre? Swim with the dolphins!


A Canvas Conversion; and on Being the New Girl Again.

I went Bloch shopping this week! If you’ve been in London, maybe you’ll know about the conglomeration of lovely dance shops around a couple of streets in Covent Garden. I could easily spend hours cooing over them all. But a quick visit for new flatties is a Bloch stop.

Y’all know I love my satin. But I decided to try on some canvas just to see what it felt like. My problems with canvas include the fact  that canvas shoes on my feet just look like bags and don’t make me feel elegant at all; the line is just rubbish and just no no no. Part of the problem is the shape of my feet and toes. Whilst I have naturally very high arches, this means that over the years the pressure exerted on my toes has made them kind of crunch up – if I say I have curly toes, does that make sense? I don’t want to show you a picture of them!

However Bloch have brought out a new canvas shoes with ultra-stretch canvas. This means that instead of there being a huge bag over my toes where my toes don’t reach the end, the fabric forms to my shape! Here they are, they are the Synchrony :

Oh and trust me to choose the most expensive Bloch flat...

Oh and trust me to choose the most expensive Bloch flat…

They also have the elastic binding which is maybe not so important for the amateur dancer – I know my teacher has callouses from his binding and drawstrings over the years! – but it is very comfy.

So new shoes, I went straight into a new class! Double scary.

My plan at the moment is to mix up classes as much as I can. I have mega love for Fab Teacher, but his classes are so popular that it’s very hard to get specific, personal corrections. I work on the general class corrections of course, but I’m finding it difficult to get a good idea of where I’m going right and wrong.

Also I do tend to hang back from challenging myself, and will often push myself to get familiar combinations perfect before trying to do a faster or more complex class.

So along I went to a beginner/general class, and I’m already terrified at the “general” bit. I’m happy to report that I had a great time, that I knew most of the individual steps, but the barre was much faster and the centre a lot more “joined up” and complex. I have to laugh at myself attempting what I think of as a proper ballerina dance with balletic walking and everything. Also my new shoes felt great on the floor! I love a good floor-feel!

A new step for me was the pas de basque. I struggle with attempting to mimic during class and do need stuff breaking down, so along I went at the end of class and asked the teacher to demonstrate. I’m now trying to find an adequate video break-down online as I struggle visualising how to link it together!

It’s a big change for me being a new girl in a new class, as usually in my regular class I’m confident enough to go first in a group exercise. Just recently a girl taking our improvers class for the first time had hung back until the end of a centre exercise and the sub teacher expected her to go across the floor by herself. She asked me to go in front to lead her across, and I was happy to go across again, although I’m definitely not the best technique-wise for a new person to copy. I suppose the part of me that loves performance won’t pass up a chance to pretend to be Fonteyn either!

So new shoes, new steps, and a new mind-set to get to grips with. Any pas de basque tips gratefully received!



I just don’t get assemblés


My brain gets it – brush jump, brush jump.

But my body just doesn’t understand!

Normally I can get by on mimetic action before I’ve really got my technique down and get a feel for a step.

But it’s like my body is just slack-jawed and uncomprehending.

I’m going to Youtube chain a whole load of vids to see if this will help something to click.

*Edited after having a search*

I think the two vids below are possibly the most helpful I can find, because they are nice and slow, and show the whole step from start to finish a number of times. I can’t stand those HowCast-esque things that take two minutes to introduce whoever it is and then just show you a step in bits. Rubbish!

Reviewing the above, I think I am getting the basic movement of the step, however it just doesn’t feel right and when I watch myself in the mirror it looks ungainly. I think I have been unsure of how far to brush out the working leg, and I can just bet I haven’t been keeping my spine and trunk as straight and immobile as in the vids! Also I have been unsure of when precisely to jump with the standing leg. Funnily enough I think part of this is the name of the step putting me off – I haven’t been able to connect what I’m doing with “assembling” the feet together.

I’ve only just really gained confidence in the petit allegro – it really has taken me this long to jump without waving my torso around or leaning or whatever. In the last few weeks somehow its clicked and I’m having loads of fun being springy. It great to see your feet really point and extend whilst you’re in the air isn’t it?

Oh and Re. Glissade as in the video above – THAT took me far too long to get my head around. First of all I thought it was called a glissande (sounds like a shampoo) and I thought it was a change of weight from one foot to the other. And I had no idea the plié was the main thing going on in there. Stern Teacher goes Where’s your plié? I’m like it thought it could sit this one out?? Not realising this was the part of the Little Jumps section.

So that has been my YouTube research presentation. My findings indicate a number of points that are causing my body to go “Assem-blehh??!”. Thank you.