Need some help perfecting your ballet jumps and turns? Master teacher Kurt Froman is here to help.
Froman, a former New York City Ballet dancer, is now on the faculty at The School at Steps, located on Manhattan's Upper West Side at the dance studio Steps on Broadway. The school program nurtures dancers as young as 18-months-old and up to 18-years-old.
Froman, together with Kate Thomas, Director of the School at Steps, collaborated with Dance.com to provide essential advice on some basic steps: pirouettes from fifth position and a pas de chat. Both of these elegant ballet movements can help you win $500 in Dance.com's "Jumps and Turns Battle" contest
In the video below, Froman gives rich detail on how to create a beautiful pirouette. It's not about the number of turns, he says: "It is important to set a goal of musicality."
He advises listening to the music and connecting it to a down-and-up motion that is deeply connected to the music. "Give yourself a big plié, so you are as low as possible," he said, adding that when the working leg comes up into passé, the foot should arrive at the knee of the standing leg immediately. "You get beautiful pirouettes that go around in this very tall position. It can give turns a real beauty," he said.
Watch Froman help Kailei Sin and Maria Edmond, both students of The School at Steps, with their pirouettes here.
When it comes to jumps, the upper and lower body need to be addressed, especially in a pas de chat, a delicate jump inspired by the agility of a cat, in which each foot is raised to the opposite knee quickly.
"The take-off can be sloppy," said Froman, emphasizing the need to turn out the feet — and, again, to listen to the music. "With any jump, you want it to float. Even it's a very fast pas de chat, it needs to be syncopated."
The feet and legs are only half of the equation: The arms and neck need to be fully supported. "You have to think of your upper body being very held. If you are not engaged, the arms are just hanging down," he said.
As for leaps, such as a grand jete, he recommends thinking about each part of the jump individually. "It's the take off, the middle part and the landing. You can't crash land. You have to decelerate and hold that back leg in arabesque and pull it through as you going the next step."
Watch Froman help students Kailei Sin and Maria Edmond with their pas de chat here and leaps below.