When playing music for a ballet class, ronds de jambe is often one of the favorite exercises of ballet class pianist. For those who actually listen to ballet class music albums for fun (few people do) ronds de jambe can provide a great listening experience when the music is handled well by the composer of the ballet class music.
The ronds de jambe are accomplished by the dancers creating a round pattern on the floor with their foot, in the shape of a half circle. This exercise mainly accomplishes two things for the dancers. It helps them develop better and better turnout and it works the glutes and the hips.
There are two directions to perform a rond de jambe that are called ronds de jambe en dohrs and ronds de jambe en dedans. The first occurs when the dancer creates a circle from front to back and the other when the dancer creates a circle back to front.
Depending on the instructor, the ronds de jambe exercise can include what is called port de bras, which is arm exercises. These often match the ronds de jamb in their fluid sweeping motion and the music can consequently be equally sweeping in scope.
An understated waltz works well here with a compelling melody that matches the sweeping motion of the dancers. The phrasing of the waltz would be very similar to the phrasing of a Viennese waltz, only with a much slower tempo. A beautiful melody, thoughtfully phrased is effective and really does make a difference in the way the dancers perform this exercise. It can be rewarding for the pianist to work some melodic material and chord progressions out in advance for this exercise, simply because when improvising, great melodies don’t always result. And this is an opportunity to have a lot of fun with some really beautiful and passionate music by having something ready in advance.
For an example of rond de jambe music 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 fondus, frappes, and adages.