Photo by Matthew Henry via Burst

Ask Amy: How Do I Get Off the Ground in Grand Allégro?

This story originally appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of Pointe.

I'm flexible and good at traveling across the floor, but I can't seem to get any height or extension on my sauts de chat. What should I focus on to get that powerful grand allégro jump? —Mary


I sometimes see dancers with beautiful extensions struggle to get off the ground in grand allégro. While flexibility helps with splitting the legs, you also need proper strength in your hamstrings, back and abdominals to push off the ground and hold the position.

For saut de chat, multiple components must be perfectly timed. As you move through fourth position during your preparation, think of gathering your energy together, making sure your plié is deep and substantial so that you have more power to push off. When you jump, you want to carve an arc through the air—not stay the same level horizontally—so think of lifting your hips as you développé to propel yourself in the right direction (I always imagine a horse rearing on its hind legs). Then, push through the toes of the back foot and think of doing a grand battement derrière. To achieve a nice split, imagine an explosive energy underneath your back thigh. I also try to inhale at the height of the jump—it helps me to hold on to the air a little longer.

Try doing some daily exercises (such as plank poses and modified bridges) or taking a weekly Pilates class to help strengthen your core and hamstrings. And at barre, pay close attention to your fondus and grand battement. The deep plié action of fondu and forceful brush of grand battement are tools you'll need to utilize later in grand allégro.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


James Barkley, Courtesy Dance for Change

Take Class From Celebrated Black Dancers and Raise Money for the NAACP Through Dance for Change

Since the nationwide fight against racial inequality took center stage in May, organizations across the dance world have been looking for meaningful ways to show their support, rather than fall back on empty social media signifiers. July 10-11, Diamante Ballet Dancewear is taking action with Dance for Change, a two-day event dedicated to fundraising for the NAACP, and amplifying the voices of Black professional dancers.

Organized by Diamante Ballet Dancewear's founder, Nashville Ballet 2 dancer Isichel Perez, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre teacher Elise Gillum, Dance for Change makes it easy to participate. Dancers need only to make a donation to the NAACP (in any amount) and email proof to diamante.ballet@gmail.com to be given online access to a full schedule of Zoom master classes taught by Black pros artists. Teachers include Ballet Memphis' George Sanders, Boston Ballet's Daniel Durrett, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Corey Bourbonniere, and more. "It's important that we amplify BIPOC voices during this time, and it's also important that we're conscious of where we're putting our dollars," says Bourbonniere. "Diamante is doing both with Dance for Change, and I'm honored to be in this talented group of melanated dancers."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Houston Ballet's "Dancing With Myself" Captures How We All Feel Right Now

What are dancers to do when they're still stuck at home in isolation? After all, there's only so much time you can spend taking barre, tackling your reading list (or Netflix queue) or ticking items off your to-do list. Even wistfully looking out the window has lost its appeal after a few months.

That's when you need a dance party—even it's for a party of one.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

"Our Studio Is Failing Its Students of Color": One Dancer's Experience of Racism and Microaggressions

I recently spent a Saturday night with my husband and my 17-year-old dancing daughter, who sobbed at the foot of our bed. My daughter revealed her experiences with implicit bias and overt racism in school, and especially in the dance studio.

For six years, she has danced at a classical ballet school tied to the city's ballet company. The previous six years were spent at a mid-sized recreational/competition studio. I want to recount a few examples of the racism that my daughter shared that night.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks