Brisé. A good name for a girl if she’s a film noire heroine.

We started working on brisé the other day,
And I was going to suggest that Brisé would make a very pretty name for a girl and since the Adult Beginner is happy with the one baby and not having more I was going to offer the name Brisé out to the world in case anybody is looking,
But then I googled and found out that brisé translates to “broken”.
As in “au cœur brisé”, or, you know, broken hearted.
So maybe never mind on the name thing.
But anyway, what it is, is:
You start with your feet closed in fifth position,
You’re in the center right now, not at the barre,
You bring your back foot out as you jump up into the air but you’re not jumping straight up because that would just be a regular old entrechat quatre, no, you jump forward-ish with your feet so you’re sort of diagonal in the air, meanwhile that back foot has come out to a second position in the air, pointed of course, and then it closes in front of the front foot while you’re still in the air, and then it goes back out to second, still in the air, and then closes fifth in back, and at this time you have landed again.
I feel a little bit broken just describing it.
We did this combination that was brisé brisé brisé entrechat quatre, repeat, across the room, and pretty much as far as I would get was the close in front and then I’d have landed, kinda tangled up in my own legs, so then I’d be totally relieved when the entrechat quatre would happen, ’cause that’s just up in the air and less tangle-legged,
Except suddenly Smirnoff noticed that I wasn’t doing these quite right either and had me go to the barre like we do during petite batterie, and face the barre and hold it with both hands and jump up and bring the front foot out, close back in the air, out, close front and land-
And this is one of the things I’ve been trying to improve lately because I’m not very fast with these in-the-air beat things, but I want to be because they look so cool and the impossible speed and rhythm of them makes me think of those Sheila Chandra songs where she’s doing that drum language, you know, the onomatopoeic syllabic language used in Indian music to describe the rhythm you want a drummer to play, it’s like doong tak ta doong tak takatakatakatakatakatakatakatakata ta and you’re like How Can They Make Mouth Sounds So Fast That Is The Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Heard, and that’s how all those beats in the air look to me,
So I thought of a trick, which is: don’t think about the Out, only the In. Because I figure that as I jump up, my feet might naturally open out, and if I just think about In back! In front close! that’ll be less impossible that thinking, Up! Out! In Back! Out Again! In Front Close! all while trying to stay up in the air.
But meanwhile I’ve been totally ignoring his reminders to the class that our calves should bounce off each other.
Because 1. Too busy thinking about feet and staying in the air long enough to accomplish this massive to-do list and 2. That doesn’t even make sense and 3. Secretly I’ve always been sure I’d bang the one knee into the back of the other knee and the idea gives me the willies. Seriously, even sitting here on the couch typing, I’ve got my legs folded up under me so nothing will spring out and hit the backs of my knees. Gross. Bleh. Creeps me all the way out.
So Smirnoff had me do a few entrechat quatres at the barre and his verdict was that I’m kicking back instead of to the side (huh) and bending my knees a little (probably to keep them from banging each other yuck)
But I can’t see what I’m doing because I’m facing the wall and so we move on and I’m thinking How am I going to improve this, what’s my next little mind trick going to be,
And then a couple days later I was lying on the floor in a pile of baby toys, and I put my feet up in the air and did a few entrechat quatres overhead and it was excellent because I could go super slow without the time bomb of being airborne, and watch the calves bounce off each other and see how my knees were safe from getting bumped.
So that’s my next trick. We’ll see if that helps.
Get those entrechat quatres fixed up, then maybe back to the brisés.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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11 Responses to Brisé. A good name for a girl if she’s a film noire heroine.

  1. Andre says:

    Another adult beginner here … I used to hate batterie, but now I kind of like it because there are things I can work on whose progress is not completely stalled. Two things that helped me:

    – brisé: jump out to where you want to land, and go further than you think you might want to. For some reason, not traveling seems to make them much harder.

    – entrechats: thinking about the “in” helps me a lot, too. Going out is like the windup or preparation for the going in, if that makes any sense — the “in” is the main event. If you look at how men do their beats, the “out” is very big, like a demi-demi-second, but the “in” is still the main event. Also, I think higher up my leg to the thighs instead of the calves when thinking about which parts to beat. Still working on this last hint, but when it works, it’s like magic.

    Here’s a great example of big “out” beats, but the “in” is still the main thing:

    Also, I like that I look extra goofy when my arms try to mimic what my legs are doing in batterie.

    • This is all super helpful, thank you. I’m glad to hear you use the Thinking Of In thing too, it’s nice to see that confirmed by another person.
      And beating the thighs, somehow that makes me feel safer about not hitting my knees.
      Funny how important all these mind-tricks are.

  2. RO says:

    Brisés are a b*tch! They go so freakin’ fast and you have to be airborne for ages in order to accomplish them, which I always fail at. So I hear you, but there seems to be room for improvement. Comment above is pretty helpful indeed!

  3. Ah beats/battu. They always seem so impossible at first. Really though thinking thighs touch more so than the lower extremities gets the better results. Just let go of your brain’s intuition and go for it. Think beat thighs thighs thighs.
    What you’re doing though is great practice! I’ve seen a doc on the Paris opera where little ballet boys competed by seeing how fast they could beat their legs for how long. But also sitting up half erect. It is a great exercise and it’s one I’m using now for Baby Swans.
    Good luck AB!

  4. Robin Karlin says:

    The “out” is definitely just the physical consequence of having switched your legs, not an actual goal :D until you’re jumping so high that your legs are just bored. Additionally—I was never taught to do brise through a rond de jambe/second (only brise vole, which is a whole ‘nother horror). For me, brises are always straight front/back, going through first. Could be a different style, but brushing through first, to a straight fourth front/back is more efficient, just from a leg-needs-to-travel-where-in-HOW-much-time?! standpoint, as well as directed travel in combinations, especially when you use the slight inclination. Easier on the hips, too. Perhaps yours is Vaganova, but my one Vaganova teacher never said anything about my straight brises…

    Your mention of drum language got Zambra by Ojos de Brujo stuck in my head!

    • You know, I went to Amoeba Records this one time, and I asked where to find the Ojos de Brujo because I’d just heard a story about them on NPR, and the super-hip girl behind the counter was like, “I don’t know what that is,” and I was like, “they were just talking about it on the NPR” and she was like, “yeah NPR gets things before we do” and I was like (in my head) WELL THEN WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOU, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE COOL ONES.

  5. Terez Mertes says:

    Brisés are brutal. And never, never mention “brisé volé” out loud in class. You really don’t want to go there and it might give your teacher ideas. (YouTube it in the secrecy of your own home, maybe, to see for yourself. It’s brutality on steroids.)

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