Torija coaches BalletMet Dance Academy summer intensive student Polina Myers. Photos by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.

Follow These Step-by-Step Instructions to Master Piqué Turn en Dehors

It's the complex transfer of weight that makes piqué turns en dehors—commonly called "step-overs"—so tricky. Maria Torija, director of the BalletMet Dance Academy, shares her ideas on how to successfully navigate these inevitable variation-ending turns.

What's in a name: " 'Step-over' is the American way," Maria Torija explains. But the turn has many names. "Vaganova calls it 'tour dégagé.' 'Lame-duck'—that's the English! Maybe we should go to the French. The Paris Opéra calls it 'tour piqué en dehors.' "

Walk the line: Whether you tombé front or side, Torija stresses the importance of precision in consecutive piqués en dehors. "Hold the passé until you finish the turn, and then tombé right in the path you're going, like on a tightrope." The leg doesn't extend to the front or side. That's a different step. "Tombé means you fall into it. It's a very quick motion."


Step 1

Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet


Think fifth: A common mistake Torija sees dancers make is a rond de jambe instead of dégagé à la seconde, which causes them to piqué almost through fourth position. "Go towards fifth, the legs very tight together, and immediately replace one for the other." It's the tombé that travels, she clarifies, not the piqué.

"The arms are a prolongation of your back": As you dégagé, the leading arm—the right arm, if you are turning to the right—opens in a curving motion to a little allongé before closing to first with the piqué. "You need that impulse, coordinated with the legs, to turn the torso." But beware of opening the arm too wide, Torija warns: "It looks like you're fighting with the turn."

Find your axis: As you go up into the turn, Torija instructs, "feel that you're going in towards your own center." This will help you feel compact for the speed of the turn. "Be as flat as a sheet of paper in the passé, with your back and sides engaged so your arms are aligned in the middle of your body."

Additional Tips:

  1. There are two correct ways to execute a piqué en dehors. Torija teaches both, beginning with "the academic way"—taking the tombé forward on a diagonal, spotting the corner. "Once you have the dynamic and coordination of the turn, then you can go the more sophisticated Balanchine way: tombé side, and spot front. It's important to know both."
  2. Keep the dégagé low and rotated. "In the book they say 45 degrees, but I think it looks nicer a bit lower. Ballet always has to look elegant." Torija notes that lifting that dégagé too high also risks destabilizing the hips, which throws off the turn. "Keep the turnout of that leg. The movement is so exposed there; you want that beautiful flatness of the seconde."

Latest Posts


Jayme Thornton

Roman Mejia Is Carving His Own Path at New York City Ballet

In a brightly lit studio high above the busy Manhattan streets, Roman Mejia rehearses George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante. Though just 20, the New York City Ballet corps dancer exudes an easy confidence. Practicing a tricky sequence of triple pirouettes into double tours his breathing becomes labored, but his focus doesn't waver. He works until he finds the music's inherent rhythm, timing his turns evenly and finally landing them with a satisfied smile.

Since joining NYCB in 2017, Mejia has had the chance to take on ballets ranging from Romeo + Juliet to Fancy Free to Kyle Abraham's hip-hop–infused The Runaway. Though he often finds himself the youngest person in the room, Mejia is rarely intimidated. He's been immersed in ballet since birth. His father, Paul Mejia, danced with NYCB in the 1960s, and his mother, Maria Terezia Balogh, danced for Chicago City Ballet and Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet. Both of Mejia's parents and his grandmother attended the School of American Ballet. Now, Mejia is quickly building on his family's legacy, creating buzz with his shot-from-a-cannon energy, rapid-fire footwork and charismatic charm.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi Everyone,

These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.

As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.

And we know that you will, too. We've been utterly inspired by how the dance community has rallied together, from ballet stars giving online classes to companies streaming their performances to the flood of artist resources popping up. We've loved watching you dance from your kitchens. And we want to help keep this spirit alive. That's why Pointe and all of our Dance Media sister publications are working nonstop to produce and cross-post stories to help you navigate this crisis. We're all in this together.

We also want to hear from you! Send us a message on social media, or email me directly at abrandt@dancemedia.com. Tell us how you're doing, send us your ideas and show us your dance moves. Let the collective love we share for our beloved art form spark the light at the end of the tunnel—we will come out the other side soon enough.

Best wishes,

Amy

Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Ballet Company Costume Departments Jump Into Action, Sewing Masks for Coronavirus Aid

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced ballet companies worldwide to cancel or postpone their seasons. But it's not just dancers and artistic staff that have found their work at a standstill. Costume departments, a vital component in bringing performances to life, have also hit pause. However, costume shops around the country, including Tulsa Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Miami City Ballet, have figured out a creative way to utilize their resources to give back to their communities during this challenging time. We touched base with Tulsa's team to find out what their experience has been like.

Keep reading SHOW LESS