Pique Turns


Ballet Class Music Following the highpoint of the ballet class, the grand allegro, the ballet instructor moves on to the last exercise before the final reverence, the pique turns. The French term pique means “pricked.” From the name you can gather that it involves a snappy and accurate movement and that is so. The ballet class music will reflect that.

The turn uses a movement in which the strongly pointed toe of the lifted and extended leg sharply lowers to hit the floor then immediately rebounds upward. This quick and accurate movement requires a corresponding musical technique in the ballet class music to maximize the performance of the dancers.

The music will be a strict 2/4 or 3/4 meter with a quick tempo and a sharp and slightly exaggerated punch on the downbeat that corresponds to the step onto the straight leg. The pianist needs to create a rhythmic left hand pattern that is metronomic and a sparkly right hand activity with very accurately played smaller note values that always make it clear when the beats are coming by smart use of the chord progression. The music needs to be “dancie” and easy to follow and if someone were watching the class they should be tapping their foot in time because they can’t help it.

Though it appears when you watch pique turns that the dancers are doing a full 360 degree rotation, technically they aren’t. The rotation is actually between a half and three-quarter turn beginning when the working leg makes contact with the floor and ending when the working leg is replaced by the other leg in coupe. This partial rotation is extremely important because this keeps the dancers from spinning off the line of travel and allows them to recover from the rotation and stay on the diagonal.

For more descriptions of how ballet class music is performed for the various ballet class exercises, read the posts about reverence, petit allegro, and grand allegro.

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