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Blog #43: Petit Allegro: 2/4, 6/8, 9/8 and Beyond!

Petit Allegro.. A joy. A pain. Dreaded. Loved. Hard. Easy!

"It's just jumping"

"Why can't they be on the music?"

"I'm so sick of using a 2/4 for sautes"

"What else can I use?"

So, when it comes to petit allegro, you usually have 2 purposes. 1) Warm up their achilles and 2) wake up your students' brains and feet!

Generally warm up allegro should be a combination of plies, rises and actual sautes. With that in mind.. what kind of music works for that? What kind of music supports your various saute ideas? That's where we're going today!

Music for Petit Allegro

When it comes to music for petit allegro, you are generally looking for music with a quicker, lighter quality.  Something that inspires jumping off the floor, right?  Here are your TOP options and why!

2/4 (Duple Meter)

This music is awesome because it's simple. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & , etc. Plie on the counts, in the air, on the &'s. Sometimes, if you're one of those crazier teachers, you might change it up and ask your dancers to be in the air on the count! Good luck! You'll be needing to practice that a bit! Plie-ing on the '&' is less than comfortable/natural for your dancers! Hello Popcorn! lol.

Always pick music that support the rhythm you're wanting, right?  Plie saute saute and stretch, plie saute saute and stretch would use music WITHOUT an anacrusis. If you want AND 1 AND 2 AND 3 stretch down AND 5 And 6 AND 7-8 AND.. etc then make sure you count music that has that kind of musical support, or if you have a pianist, make sure you mark that pick up that you want, clearly!

6/8 (Triple Meter)

On lighter, brighter note, a 6/8 can lend itself to warm up jumps that are not so much about the landing! Warm up jumps with dancers that are well warmed up already!

This is because instead of landing on a count and in the air on the '&', your dancers get to land on a count and be in the air for the '&' AND the 'a'. 1 beat down, 2 beats up! MORE AIRTIME!  Though this music generally does not support working on the landing as much, it is amazing for Plie/releve and petit allegro focused on the jump.

9/8 (Triple Jig; Triple Meter)

This time signature, in addition to the bolero, is fabulous for petit allegro.

Basically this music can be counted in phrases of 6. 1&a 2&a 3&a | 4&a 5&a 6&a.

It's lighter than a polonaise (though similar tempo), which might make you think of a mazurka, but, it's not as quick as a mazurka, AND gives equal value/accent to each beat (contrary to the mazurka which accents beat 2 more than the others)

Both the 9/8 and the bolero can be really fun for allegro where you change positions, for example;

1st, 2nd, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 5th.

1st 1st 1st, 5th, change change.

You get the idea, I hope! Allegro in 6 count phrases can be really fun and these are the best music types for that!

Hornpipe (Duple Meter)

This music type feels just like a standard 2/4 for most of it.

That being said, there are occasions where the music phrases (music has sentences, or ideas that are connected. Their lengths change throughout, 2 counts, 4 counts, 8 counts, etc) are quite long in a hornpipe. This is ideal if you have a long pattern of sautes because you can actually match the 8 count phrase of allegro with an 8 count music phrase! It can be pretty dreamy when that matches well!

In Conclusion

Whatever the purpose and pattern of your exercise, there is almost always a piece of music or a meter that will suite it JUST PERFECTLY! If this all made perfect sense, excellent! If it made some sense but not totally, you would benefit from taking The Official Music Training Course for Ballet Teachers (The OMTC).

It teaches MUCH of this in much more detail, what they all look like, how to count them, use them, etc. The OMTC is a dream come true for any ballet teacher who wants more confidence when using music in ballet class!

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