Sissonne To Pointe

The dynamic spring to arabesque on pointe, or grande sissonne ouverte sur la pointe, is a useful step to practice because it will help you build strength, coordination and daring. Here, former New York City Ballet soloist and current School of American Ballet faculty member Katrina Killian explains the fine points.

 

—Begin in fifth position en face, right foot forward, with equal weight on both feet.

—To get the right energy for the plié that initiates the movement, Killian suggests thinking ahead, that you will land equally on both feet. “You’re landing,” she says, “but make sure to have energy in the ball of the foot and an understanding of where your heels are going to be.”

—Dart forward into first arabesque on the right leg. As the right leg moves from the plié in fifth to pointe to execute the sissonne, think that it continues to cross in front of you. At the exact same time, battement your left leg from fifth directly to the arabesque precisely behind you. You hit the position in one count. Ideally, a grande sissonne ouverte sur la pointe is a big movement that travels forward—in this case to first arabesque. “The distance you dart becomes a progression. When you start learning the step,” says Killian, “you’re only going to go so far, but as you learn to propel both legs equally, then the dart will become yours, and you will go further.”

—The arms and head are part of the movement from the start. The head and elbows set the tempo of the plié. As you land in your plié, lift the elbows and bend the head slightly forward, then extend with energy. Use your eyes to spot to where you are going to stop in the position: Fully extended in first arabesque, with the eyes looking over and past the top of the front hand. “Find the position in your mind,” says Killian. “Move from head-to-toe and toe-to-head, including the eyes, into your best position, the cleanliness of that right spot.”

 

By Katrina Killian as told to Virginia Johnson

Latest Posts


The author, Lucy Van Cleef, dancing Balanchine's Serenade at Los Angeles Ballet. Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

My 12-Year Journey to a Bachelor’s Degree While Dancing Professionally

If you'd have told me in 2009 that it would take 12 years to earn my bachelor's degree, I never would have believed you. Back then, I was a dancer in my early 20s and in my second year with Los Angeles Ballet. I was used to the straightforward demands of the professional ballet world. I knew that hard work and willpower were the currency you paid in the studio, and that the thrill of live performance made all that investment worth it. What I didn't know then is how life's twists and turns aren't always so straightforward. In hindsight, I can see how my winding road to higher education has strengthened me—and my relationship with the ballet world—more than I ever could have imagined.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
New York City Ballet principal and Dance Against Cancer Co-Founder Daniel Ulbricht in New York City's Columbus Circle. Travis Magee, Courtesy DAC.

Dance Against Cancer Is Back With a Starry Outdoor Gala—and It Will Also Be Livestreamed

The annual Dance Against Cancer gala is back in full force this year, bringing major dance stars together on Monday, June 21, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Held in Lincoln Center's outdoor Damrosch Park, it will be New York City's largest in-person ticketed event since the onset of the pandemic. And for the first time, this year's gala will also be livestreamed by Nel Shelby Productions for international audiences. The evening's finale—a tribute to first responders, medical professionals, educators, mentors and other heroes who have lost their lives to cancer or are battling it—stars special guest Kevin Boseman, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Graham Dance Company, a cancer survivor, and the brother of the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Margo Moritz, Courtesy Alonzo King LINES Ballet

How Adult Students Can Prep for a Safe Return to the Studio

After a year (or more) of virtual classes, it's finally time to unplug and head back to the studio.

Exciting? Absolutely. A little scary? Definitely.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks