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Jazz FAQ (karma: 14)
By dancingrl247
On Fri Nov 07, 2003 04:58 PM
Edited by MIClogger (28613) on 2003-11-09 16:33:51 Changed Title, Made Sticky!
Made sticky by MIClogger (28613) on 2003-11-09 16:34:10

Ok, I don't want to sound rude or anything because these are all good questions, but they can get very annoying when so many people ask them.

So many ask the following:

help with split leaps
help with russians
help with barrels
help on getting your splits
help on pirouttes
how do you do an iluusion?
how do you a double/triple piroutte?
how do you do any of the above moves.

you know what im talking about! so i suggest we all leave advice on here on all or some or even one of the moves or questions above. then when people have a question they can just come here and check it out rather than asking it in a post which we already wrote about 5 times. easy way out! thanks for everyone who leaves advice or replies!
my own lists of advice:
slit leaps:
1. a split leap, or a grande jete, is a leap where you chase or run into it, step and leap into the air in a split
2. to get your legs really far apart practice your splits a lot, and when you step down before you leap, plie and push off really hard to get the height
3. jump UP! not forward! so many people think these jumps are for moving over the most ground but they are supposed to go strait up in the air!
1. basically a split leap only your in second, in your middle split
2. the advice is basically the same as the split leaps- jump high, plie, practice your split, and look up- not at the floor
1. a turning jump that can be done a lot of different ways, sometimes with the back leg in attitude, sometimes strait, sometimes your supposed to fan the first leg up, sometimes arch your back- they vary everywhere!
hard leaps that just need a lot of patience and practice-more advice neede on these!
getting your splits:
1.warm up
2. stretch out everything! for good stretches go into the stretching section of advice!
3.. go into your splits and hold for awhile, practice arching back, leaning forward, and making sure your squared off and your back leg is TURNED UNDER!
4. stretch out again
1. a turn where you basically start off with (lets say your doing your right) your left foot in front in fourth then you relive and put your right leg in passe- turned in for jazz, turned out for ballet, and turn to the right- often people turn the wrong direction!
2. spot!
3. pull up in full relive and full passe
4. spqeeze to hold your position longer!
5. when doing more than one, just make sure you keep doing all of the above and don't be afraid! push yourself a little more and don't plie or put your leg down.
1. basically where you stepp out(going right again)
with your right leg band down and throw up the left leg and make it fan around, lifting your heel toget yourself turned around
2. you are sort of in a needle like position
3. practice with putting your hands or hand on the groud first to practice getting your leg up and being able to get your body all the way down.
4.practice splits to get them reall well!
please read, and give more advice- remember all the repetitive posts! thanks in advance!

72 Replies to Jazz FAQ

re: ok i think we should have this on here as a sticky b/c so many ask these! (FAQ'S!) (karma: 20)
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Fri Nov 07, 2003 06:06 PM
LOL! I found my sneaky solution to this problem some time ago. Whenever I writer something I feel is pretty detailed, I simply save it in Word and cut and paste when I want it again (thus the reason why many of my posts look the same).

But here they are again- in bulk-buy! LOL.

Axel link: . . .
This is how the wonderful Sue-Ellen Chester teaches down at Sydney Dance Company (if you ever visit Sydney and get a chance to take a class, I certainly recommend hers!!!).

-Start off by doing a simple travelling step down the room- R run L run R step hop, L run R run L step hop. When you do this make sure you keep your weight underneath you at all times and under control. With the hops, keep it facing whichever side you're working with- ie if you're hopping with your right leg, turn the body to the right.

-The last one was pretty easy, so let's make it harder by adding a chasse turn instead of the two runs (keep the hop facing the front). So now it's R turn L turn R step hop, L turn R turn L step hop. You'll find that depending on which side you started with, every second 'side' will be turning inwards rather than outwards (the complete opposite of what we're normally taught to do). This is why it's tricky- what you want is to turn 'the other way' confidently and cleanly. This gets you used to really getting that weight underneath you and under control (which is what you need to an axel- if the body isn't centred, there's no way you're going to get the leg around properly!).

-After you're mastered that one, let's make it harder again by TURNING the hop (just a single turn in the air!). So now it's R turn L turn R step hop (with a turn), L turn R turn L step hop (with a turn). This is the one that really tests if you have your weight confidently underneath you. You'll find that if you can't easily do these down the room and land the turns in the air cleanly, you haven't got your weight centred- you might be leaning either forwards or backwards in the hop. Another thing- on the first side (depends on whether you started on the left or right, but you should be having a go at both anyway) you might find that you seem to be doing a tad over a single turn- that's ok, I feel that too and it's simply because your body is getting ready to go straight back into turns.

-Once you've got that one under control (and congratulations when you do!) you can add the rond de jambe (the leg bit, in plain english). It's a good idea to practice this one before putting it in first. Take the working leg in front of you, extend to wherever it's comfortable (over a 45 but no more than 90 degrees), fondue/take it out to second, bending the supporting knee then whip it back into a retire position- although the supporting foot hops up here too- so you're up in the air, both feet tucked up underneath you (although they don't need to be tucked up against your bottom). Practice this a couple of times. You need to make sure your abs are supporting your weight and keeping you steady though, because you're about to try this in the air- and you'll only be making it difficult for yourself if the supporting leg has to work overtime!

-Now try it with our chasse turns. For the first time, we don't alternate sides going down the room- whichever leg you start off with will be the one you continue to start with. This time however, instead of hopping with the opposite leg of whichever one we did the second turn with, we do the axel with that leg- eg R turn L turn (stay in chasse position) R leg goes out and tucks underneath as L leg hops off and turns. You should be turning by your right shoulder in this one.
And voila! You have an axel. The more you practice, the easier they will be (and the higher you can get your working leg in the actual axel part. Just remember to start taking the leg out before you go into the hop- by the time you actually prep off the ground, the leg should be between 1st position and 2nd, or almost out to second.).


If you’re unable to stay in the air long enough (which many of us have found, at some point of the other) then it’s likely you’re not using your abs enough- remember, use those abs to buy you beautiful airtime to show off that lovely extension!

Also remember that you can’t really try to ‘hit’ position in the air like some kind of karate jump (one of my students loves to do these). Not only does it not look good, but you don’t get that suspended-in-flight feeling. Try sweeping your front leg out and up instead- it may feel funny at first, but it works!

In terms of flexibility, you actually don’t go into the air with square hips. Only in grande jetes- ONLY in grande jetes do you hyper-extend your hip. This is the same as doing splits with a turned-out back leg.


To prep for a regular barrel(there are variations but this is the basic, fundamental one), (hypothetically, we’re going to do one starting with rour left leg- most people find that one easier), you have both your feet in parallel. Most of your weight is on your right leg, which is bent- your arms are sort of in third, your right arm across your body ready to fling to the other direction when you actually do the barrel.

I’m sure we all know what comes next. Once you’re in the air, you want to stay there if you can. What will help is your arms- my lovely jazz-tech teacher, Sue-Ellen, always taught me to not only fling my arms around, but to actually send them skywards as soon as you went into the barrel- as though for a few moments I was actually holding onto something. You’d only bring your arms down when you needed to prep for the next barrel. This encourages you to get into the air, and to suspend yourself just a bit longer (it’s hard to get your bearing when you’re sideways in the air, turning like a barrel, to boot).

What will also help to get a clean barrel is if you have the right attitude. Don’t do an RAD-style one. This will only make you have a floppy looking barrel. Do a Russian one- a turned-in one that’s in 2nd, rather than in 4th and behind you. One member once put it like “the birthing position if you were to sit on the floor”- this is what you want to look like! (although it looks better in the air than it does the ground!)

Especially if you’re just starting out, you don’t want to try and get that horizontal line happening with the upper body. Focus first on getting up into the air and having your legs and arms all in the same position. Remember also to think of your body as a whole rather than a body with a leg, another leg, an arm, and another arm. To do barrels in succession, your body must move fluidly as a whole- not only does it make the barrel look smoother, but if you were to only move one part of your body at a time, it would slow you down considerably- making work twice as difficult!


For starters, don't turn out either the supporting leg or your retire. A jazz pirouette has a turned-in retire that should glue itself to the leg- in an indentation often called ‘washers knee’, or even above if you have strong quad muscles.

You will be on the ball of the foot but you will have a slightly bent knee (but don't just let it flop- hold it steady. This is called a ‘forced releve’ and it ensures that the level of the ehad does not change when you do a jazz pirouette). Both legs will be turned in. Remember to spot! Think or turning your entire torso/body rather than whipping your head around and expecting your neck to do the work (this can lead to arthritis long-term). And remember- Abs! Glutes! Quads! Knees! Calves! ankle! The list keeps on going- make sure you're using all the muscles though. Because if just one goes, it can already begin to throw you off.

Just to finish off, you might want to strengthen your centre- do a pirouette prep but don't actually turn. Stay centred for as long as possible on the releve(and remember to repeat this on the other leg to avoid a muscle imbalance). This will get your body used to the idea of staying centred in a pirouette- the longer you can hold it, the more turns you can do!

With russians, apply the same jete principles except yourlegs are going sideways- they differ from side leaps because your legs go forwards rather than sideways (ie if you were to do 2nd position on the floor and lean forward, those are ther muscles you're using). Use arms to have your weight firmly held before you even go up. Do some prep jumps, and up you go!

Try not to 'wobble' in the air because you're trying to get your legs higher- stick to what you know you can get cleanly and when your flexibility improves, so will your russians! Remember also that you MUST try to turnout when you do russians. Remember that it's a lot harder to devloppe a la second with a turned-in leg because the body doesn't work that way- but when you turn it out, up it goes!

Also, while many people lean forward to make their russians look better, just don't lean tooo far and loose your centre lol!

Again apply basic jete principles. The only difference is that when you have one leg up into the air (don’t cheat and sort of ‘hitch’ the leading leg up there- it’s better to have a lower leading leg rather than a high, ‘hitched’ leg).

Start like any normal jete- but with your leading leg, ‘switch’ it backwards and use that momentum you get from that you give you lift (don’t be scared and let it drag you down). Remember to start small, keep it controlled- don’t sacrifice height for a high leading leg and a sloppy changeover and landing! When you get stronger and more confident, you can take your leading leg higher at the beginning.

Best wishes!
re: ok i think we should have this on here as a sticky b/c so many ask these! (FAQ'S!) (karma: 1)
By CheesePlusCakemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Nov 07, 2003 07:15 PM
You don't have to run to do a split leap.
re: ok i think we should have this on here as a sticky b/c so many ask these! (FAQ'S!)
By Dance_4eva
On Sat Nov 08, 2003 07:55 PM
oh haha! You got a good point there! It does get annoying sometimes.. well, most of the times... thanks! But I don't know how u can put a post as a sticky.

re: Jazz FAQ (karma: 4)
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Nov 09, 2003 09:58 PM
Some jazz terms, and definitions I found...

RELEVE: being on one foot like on tip toes; used in turns and movement

GRAND JETE: a leap in the split position; toes are pointed and arms are either in a high "v" or in an l position.

PIROUETTE: this is simply a turn; either a single, double, triple, quad, or higher; this is determined by how many times you make a revolution; arms are in a bowl shape in front of you; to make them original you can put them on your hips or abpove your head in a v shape or holding your fist; but the proper techique is in front of your body in a pretty, round, stiff bowl.

SWITCH LEAP: a leap where u sashe(not sure of spelling) and put up either your left or right leg in front of you and switch in about half a count to a leap with the opposite leg. doing this you switch the opposite arm from whichever leg is in front. the illusion is simply switching your legs in mid-air.

SECOND LEAPS:a leap where you either sashe or to a tow step leap; you hit a second position in the air like a toe-touch and your arms are either out in front of you like your grabbing something in front of you or there touching your toes out to the side; then you come down with the opposite leg you started with behind you.

ATTITUDE TURN: turn done while leg is in the arabesque position behind you and your on releve; usually ballet but can be used in jazz.

ARABESQUE: when leg is elevated behind you.

SHANAE TURNS: turns done on releve; done in two steps; you start with arms back and you open and close each time you turn; your legs just stay close together and you turn in two steps.

PIQUE TURNS: kind of done like a shanae; you start the same way but when you turn you pick up the leg you start with while turning and you plie(which is where there is a bend in the legs) with your leg out in front of you and start again to go as long as you want.
re: Jazz FAQ
By dancerchic4vr
On Mon Nov 10, 2003 01:38 PM
Chanel - a mod has to make your post a sticky! I'm not sure if you can request it to be made a sticky or if they just have to notice it and think it important enough to be a sticky, but yeah, a mod has to do it!

This is really good, helpful advice! I would add some too, but pretty much everything has been covered!
re: Jazz FAQ
By crunchyPremium member
On Wed Nov 12, 2003 12:01 AM
What a great post! Thank you for taking the time to enter all of that!
re: Jazz FAQ
By muddy_pig
On Wed Nov 12, 2003 06:47 AM
cool post...thanx...helped me a whole lot...

re: Jazz FAQ
On Wed Nov 12, 2003 07:57 AM
I would love to do a class with Ms Chester.... inspiring stuff
re: Jazz FAQ
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Wed Nov 12, 2003 07:53 PM
She's a living legend! She does almost all the advanced jazz and jazz-tech classes in Sydney at all the biggest and most respected dance studios (including their full-time dance courses, workshops and masterclasses)- one of those people that can always give you something more challenging (and always does) no matter how good you are or how much professional work you've done. As she says- "There's always more!" She also has a hilarious sense of humour and is still dancing with the best of them at the ripe old age of 43- she also just got married, is 3 1/2 months pregnant and is STILL dancing with the best of them!

(You can tell I love my jazz tech teacher, can't you?) :D
re: Jazz FAQ
By uptowngrl
On Fri Nov 14, 2003 06:34 PM
Can someone please add these 2 How to Questions on the list? How to/Help with leg out turns..I dont know the correct term but it is just turning with one leg straight out in front/side of you...and 2nd i really have no idea what these are technically called but they are named pencil turns at my studio. Advice on how to do a pencil turn better (you swing your leg up while your turning and hold your leg straight up next to your face) Glitter fairy or anyone with answers? And by the way great thread especially for us Newbies
re: Jazz FAQ
By JzDncr7
On Sat Nov 15, 2003 07:57 AM
Really useful...Thanks for sharing :)
re: Jazz FAQ
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:27 PM
uptowngirl, those turns require strength and one heck of a lot of core strength (not only do you have to turn, but you have to keep your leg up there- and you have to KEEP turning, and if you want to pull an Alicia, you want to be able to just stop and slowing let the leg go down).

Work on your devloppes. This will help your leg go up of its own accord rather than relying on momentum to get it up there (also it will let your body concentrate on turning rather than half-hunching over to get that leg up there which knocks your centre off anyway) and it will leave you with one less thing to worry about (as I said before, you have to be able to get that leg up there and keep that leg up there AND continue turning- can't do that when you're using every ounce of strength to keep the leg up because you'll loose your centre). The leg should almost go up independantly.

You also need good core strength. Try this exercises- on a normal pirouette (try a single for starters) and then stop with the power of the abs. You cannot tighten your upper body, drop your heel, bend your knee or wobble- you just want to turn and then stop, remaining on the releve. Pirouette preps (remaining on the releve with the retire) will also help strengthen your core.

Best wishes!
re: Jazz FAQ
By uptowngrl
On Sun Nov 16, 2003 09:12 AM
Edited by uptowngrl (76854) on 2003-11-16 09:20:20 adding something
GLITTERFAIRY..thank you so much for the excellent tips but was that advice for the straight/leg out turns or the turns where you kick your leg up straight to your face and hold it with your hands while you are turning? thank you
re: Jazz FAQ
By dancingrl247
On Sun Nov 16, 2003 02:54 PM
hi-uptowngirl- they are called strait leg turns and i call the ones you refer to as pencil turns spirals. glitterfairy gave some good advice on both!
re: Jazz FAQ
By dance4lanimember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 29, 2003 03:44 PM
wow!! thats great
thanx so much!
By DaNciN_pAnThA
On Sat Nov 29, 2003 06:21 PM
Dear Dancingrl247,

Thanku soooo much 4 all that help with jazz, i really needed it so thanx grl u rock!
re: Jazz FAQ
By J_AdoreDansermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Dec 01, 2003 03:20 PM
Those are soooo helpful, after reading them and using the technique listed, my dance teacher told me I ewas improving
Some help with Pirouettes (karma: 1)
By J_AdoreDansermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Dec 05, 2003 01:30 PM
Heres some info for doing good pirouttes!

1)KNOW WHAT YOUR LIMITS ARE- To find out how many pirouttes your balance will allow (which is very important, I know someone who broke their ankle trying to do more pirouttes than they could) go up in releve after using the same preperation you would to do a real piroutte, but don't turn. The number of times you can clap without falling is probably how many pirouttes you can do.
2)FOCUS- Of course you should ALWAYS spot, because it will help you with your balance, but spotting helps alot better if you spot smaller objects. (Instead of spotting a picture, find a certain thing in the picture to look at. Example: If the picture is a ballerina, spot only her shoe or her hair, not the whole picture!)Whatever you do DON'T spot an area that will make you look down. It there is nothing to spot at eye level, Spot something up higher.
3)STANCE- The way your hold your body while doing a piroutte is a very important factor! Make sure you always keep your shoulders pressed down and your head up.It may help to roll your shoulders back instead of just pushing them back. Think about your center balanced, it makes it easier to balance your whole body. Never lean over, but in trying to stand straight, make sure you don't lean back, both will make you fall. Also keep in releve (unless you are doing a fouette) of you may fall, never let your foot fall. Although it doesn't have MUCH to do with balance, make sure you keep your toe pointed at the at the opposite legs knee, and keep your knee turned out.Also keep your opposite leg very straight and try not to let it bend (once again, IF you aren't doing a fouette) because it will probably throw you off balance.

I hope I helped everyone, if you have a question, just post it as a reply. Thanks for reading!
re: Jazz FAQ
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Sat Dec 06, 2003 05:50 AM
Just to add to the above post- obviously know what you can and can;t do but remember, to improve you must push yourself. My lovely jazz tech teacher (Sue-ellen again) will actually applaud us if we stack it because it shows that we tried to to something we couldn't do- we pushed out limits. Obviously we failed, but heck, we tried!

If you have the time (and you should) practice half your pirouette sets cleanly- the other half, go for it- push yourself and see how many you can do! Never hold back- otherwise you may have wasted half a year thinking you couldn't do a triple where the reality was that you just hadn't tried!

As to spraining ankles by trying to hard, this will only happen if you haven't locked your ankle or aren't applying enough force where there is a lot of traction- jazz boots on tarquet floors, for example.

Best wishes!
re: Jazz FAQ
By JazzChica
On Sun Dec 07, 2003 11:04 AM
When you're doing a jete how do you get your leading leg up there?

When you're doing a really good pirouette, try to remember what it feels like for you and try to get that feeling again. Also, think of your supporting leg like a pirates wooden leg, you can't bend it. It might sound odd but it actually helps some people!
By dancingrl247
On Sun Dec 07, 2003 02:09 PM
for the jete question you had- it depends. some teacher want you to devlepe your leg into a kick while other want you to kick it strait up. whatever your teacher prefers or works better for you. i like kicking it up because it helps you not bend your back leg as well. hope i helped!
re: Jazz FAQ
By JazzChica
On Wed Dec 10, 2003 08:58 PM
Thanks Dancingrl! I'm off to go jete around the house with my new piece of knowledge. ;)
re: Jazz FAQ
By dreamdancer14
On Mon Dec 15, 2003 12:51 PM
Thank You lots :]
re: Jazz FAQ
By dreamdancer14
On Tue Dec 16, 2003 02:15 PM
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