How to Improve Your Saut de Chat!
Saut de Chat is certainly one of the most iconic steps in ballet. We’ve all seen pictures of that gorgeous long line soaring through the air!
So how does one get their split off the floor and flying through space?
Here are just a few exercises to help get your dancers’ to perfect their saut de chat!
First, Let’s Go to the Barre!
Plié. You have to go down to get up!
- Plié is an essential component in any and every jump. There should be one getting into a jump and one coming out of it. Wherever your students are approaching saut de chat from (glissade, precipite ́, etc.), their plié, before taking off, will be key to getting up off the ground.
- At the barre, be sure your students are maximizing their stretch by keeping their heels down to elongate the Achilles tendon.
- The action of dévelopé devant is how the “jump” part of saut de chat begins. Practice dévelopé through sur le cou-de-pied (heel in front of the ankle and toes wrapped behind the ankle) to establish turnout at the start of the dévelop.
From there, go through retiré to then extend the leg forward using turnout to lengthen and lift.
Grand Battement Devant and Dèrriere.
- Obviously, dancers need to have a certain amount of flexibility to achieve the line of saut de chat in the air.
- Grand battement is considered a dynamic stretch. The action of throwing the leg up to the devant will increase their flexibility in what will be their leading leg for saut de chat. Fun Fact: grand battement devant is also the start of grand jeté (not to be confused with saut de chat!)
- Grand Battement dèrriere will work on establishing holding the back up (not collapsing forward) in the arabesque line while force is involved.
Now, in center, a static stretch we all know and love: the split!
- Of course having dancers work on their splits is going to help when it comes to performing saut de chat. If they are flexible enough to remove their hands from the floor while in their split, they should also use the stretch to work on their port de bras and head position. Utilize the mirror as a tool to help them see the picture they want to achieve in the air. Holding (not bouncing) in this stretch for at least 30 seconds is recommended so their muscles can acclimate and lengthen.
There are certainly more tips and tricks out there you could use. I hope these few get your students flying! Now, get jumpin’!