If you are reading this as someone who doesn’t dance, you are probably pronouncing the title as “fow-ettes”. A fouette is literally “whipped”. The term indicates either a turn with a quick change in the direction of the working leg as it passes in front of or behind the supporting leg, or a quick whipping around of the body from one direction to another. There are many kinds of fouette: petit fouette (in demi-pointe or saute) and grand fouette (saute, releve or en tournant). The fouette is your start for almost any type of complicated turn (which is besides a pirouette) in ballet, pointe, jazz, or almost any other form of dance. It is a complicated turn, and many girls tend to stuggle with it even up to their sophomore year in high school.
My entire seventh and eighth grade year in ballet was dedicated to mastering this turn. It was so difficult and includes such a great amount of rhythm, balance, flexibility, and general ballet skill, that I almost gave up trying it anymore. This is what many girls do, because you can come so close to getting it and just fall out of it. By the end of my eighth grade year right before the recital, we were practicing these turns as part of our warmup, yet the majority of the girls did not have their turns either. With so many of us and so much space needed to complete these turns, the instructor decided to split the class up into groups.
I watched the first group, and gazed at one girl the whole time, as I wished I could do these turns as well as her. Everyone was cheering her on, but with my immense amount of jealousy and bad sportsmanship, I did not participate in the claps and “WOOO!”s. I stood up with my almost-torn ballet slippers and walked onto the crisp wooden floor. My stomach turned, and I was so nervous to do these in front of the teacher and most of the class. She started to count off and I was in tondue, prepare, and then began to turn. I saw my reflection in the mirror time and time again, meaning I had completed a few turns at least. I heard the dissapointed comments and curses of girls who had fallen out of them, and I was the last one still turning. I did ten, then ten more of the turns, and I could not believe it!
My teacher was so impressed that she gave me and two other girls a solo for the turns in my dance recital last year! Solos are barely given out, so I was extremely excited.
Although fouettes are a major problem for many teen or young dancers, all you have to do is practice until you can’t practice any more. I was so frustrated at first, but finally my hard work payed off and I was successful just when I almost gave up.
There are many different warmups, stretches, and barre work meant for improving fouettes, and if you are struggling as well, look them up online or ask your instructor. Fouettes are the key to becoming a more successful, high leveled dancer, so keep on practicing!
^ A good example of slower fouettes, take notes 🙂