Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's founding artistic director Marcia Dale Weary shares how she coaches renversés of sigh-inducing beauty.
Practice it slowly: To help her students tackle renversé, Marcia Dale Weary first gives it in adagio. Take a développé to croisé devant. "Think about the shape of the right foot coming front," she says. "Show off a jewel on your heel." Pivot to effacé, then carry the leg through a high écarté, into an attitude that "circles around you. As the right arm opens, both legs bend and the left arm circles to frame your face."
Maintain turnout: Weary notices that many dancers lift their working hip in the rond de jambe. "Rotate that leg so the hip stays down and the sole of the foot stays facing front, and then carry it back without letting the knee turn over." Feel the standing leg turning out too. "Keep that knee back over your little toe."
Weary at work in the studio. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy CPYB.
Work for perfection: Weary frequently gives pas de bourrée piqué passé out of renversé, emphasizing the importance of balancing in each piqué and at the end in sous-sus. Even one wobble, she tells her students, means the whole combination is still a work in progress.
Create images within movement: In attitude, Weary says, "the foot has to cross way over, as if it's telling your ear a secret. Arch the upper back and incline your head—like Balanchine said, lift your cheek up for a kiss." Lean a little sideways, she continues, "like tipping something out. Then everything melts together."
- If you go into attitude too quickly, Weary warns, you get that doggie-at-the-fire-hydrant look." Instead, wait until the knee is behind your shoulder. "It keeps going up, up, up, up, and at the last moment it bends."
- "Listen to the accent and feel the breath," says Weary. "Make me see the music."