We do a lot of fast frappé combinations at barre, but my footwork is still a mess. Do you have any tips? —Anna
I've always enjoyed frappés, so I'm glad you asked. I keep two main things in mind. The first is to isolate the striking action. Focus on maintaining your turnout from the hip and thigh as the frappé happens from the knee down. If you're not holding your turnout from the top of the leg and pulling the knee back as you return to your flexed or sur le cou-de-pied position (depending on how your school teaches it), you lose stability and speed.
For cleaner frappés,
focus on isolating
the striking action.
My second tip would be to play with your timing. After striking the floor to create an extended dégagé, hold that position until the last possible moment before bringing the foot back in. Create an accent ("and hold, and hold") instead of evenly swinging your foot in and out. Imagine a photographer is about to take a picture of your foot—you wouldn't want it to turn out blurry, right? Feel all the muscles firing in your leg as it straightens; just when you think you're about to be off the music, pull back into sur le cou-de-pied.
On your own, practice slow frappés, gradually building up speed as you become more coordinated. With a little extra effort, you should be able to improve your footwork.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.