The latest instalment of the Dance Musings ballet steps series explores balancés.
Balancés are small ‘waltzing’ movements that involve three steps of the feet. In a balancé de côté (sideways), one leg steps out to the side – as widely as possible – onto a flat foot, with the other foot following with a step behind on demi-pointe (the ball of the foot). Staying on the spot, the movement is completed with a final flat-footed step on the front foot. All steps are en fondu (with bent knees).
As well as sideways, balancés can be performed en avant (to the front) or en arrière (to the back). Regardless of the direction of the first step, the second foot always steps behind the front foot, although sometimes the step is taken on pointe rather than demi-pointe. A similar movement – the pas de valse or waltz step – is identical to a balancé except that the second leg steps in front of the first. Both balancés and waltz steps are usually performed in sequence – going side to side or backwards and forwards – and can also travel, typically backwards or en tournant (turning).
There are a wide variety of arm lines for balancés. When taken sideways, the arms are often placed in either 3rd or 4th, with the same arm as front leg out to the side (changing each time the balancé changes side). Alternatively, one hand may be placed on the hip with the other moving between demi-bras and 1st position. For balancés forward, arms are often in 1st arabesque, whilst for balancés backward, 3rd position is common.
Balancés and waltz steps are found in many classical ballets, such as The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Coppelia. Here’s the Friends dance from Sleeping Beauty, which includes balancés at 1.15: