Fondu-Develope

ballet class music barreDuring the barre section of a ballet class, the instructor will often combine fondu and develope exercises into the same selection. Some ballet teachers also like to include fondus and developes in the barre adage exercise.

The fondu/develope exercise combination is accomplished by performing a plie on one leg with a coupe. Coupe is a term which means “to cut.” A coupe is a step in which the foot doing the movement replaces the stationary foot, or cuts it away. Sometimes the coupe is used, mistakenly, for a sur le cou-de-pied to the rear and less often to the front.

At any rate, in executing the fondu/develope, the dancer extends the leg just below knee-height to begin with, and then moves it higher and higher with each repetition. The primary purpose of this exercise is to master the skill of maintaining level hips by applying identical pressure to both the standing leg and the working leg. This exercise stretches the muscles of the thighs, and the backs of the legs in preparation for the grand battements exercise to come later.

The music is particularly important for the dancers when performing the fondus. The movements are large and use the leg muscles fully. There are two contrasting approaches the pianist can take. The music can be a rather light 6/8 in a moderate tempo with an almost cheerful or snappy lilt and lift to it. In this case it is played in a fairly strict tempo and provides a clear indication of the arrival of the leg at the top of its extension and its corresponding placement back on the floor. Or, the accompanying music can be somewhat heavy using a slow waltz with the mood and tempo fluctuations of an Argentine tango; a shifting, pulsing type of feel with wide, heavy downbeats. Either approach works equally well, and the pianist simply needs to watch the dancers and be aware of what they respond to most effectively.

To audition music used for the fondu/develope exercise, you can visit Ballet Class Music and hear free samples by composer/pianist/dancer Don Caron from his First Class Album series of ballet class music.

For more descriptions of how ballet class music is performed for the various ballet class exercises, read the posts about frappes, adages, and petit battements.