For the third part of my ballet steps series, I am exploring the couru, which means 'run' in French. Often also referred to as 'bourrée', it is a movement which involves numerous small steps of the feet, usually on pointe, either travelling or on the spot.
Romany Pajdak demonstrates:
Correct technique for a couru involves keeping the head and upper body level, whilst the feet move quickly underneath. This gives the illusion that the dancer is 'floating' in the space. The knees need to be slightly relaxed in order to create the movement, but the legs should appear relatively straight to the audience. The movement is usually performed in 5th position (with crossed feet), but also sometimes in parallel 1st position.
Photo: Johan Persson
I teach students to couru starting at the barre and on the spot, before travelling sideways along the barre, and then in the centre. The movement should always be taught first on demi-pointe, although once the feet are strong enough to go on pointe, courus become much easier.
If travelling sideways in 5th position, it is important not to look like a 'crab', where there is a gap between the legs. This means instead the legs need to be kept crossed. To do this, I advise students to start the first couru step with the back leg; the front leg then joins the back one on the second step and so on.
Courus are performed almost exclusively by female dancers and feature heavily in a number of ballets. There are lots in The Dying Swan, and the Queen of the Wilis in Giselle has to couru across the entire width of the stage without coming down. Courus are also a common preparation for pirouettes during pas de deux.