Let me explain.
Let’s talk about glissades for a second. Glissades are a travelling step. They’re quick and close to the ground. Do you want to encourage your dancers to have high glissades? No! The coordination is fast and small. In fact if you have this movement in a bigger exercise, musically, you’ll want your dancers to steal time from their glissade to give to other movements like an assemble (which needs more time!).
If you’re working allegro where you want your dancers in the air, pointing those toes, crossing the legs, in assembles for example, a 2/4 doesn’t really give you that time. The 6/8 becomes the perfect piece of music because you got a plié on one beat and then you got two more beats for airtime! 2/3rds of the dancer count is in the air!
+ a 1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4
ass em ble su ta nu, ass em ble su ta nu
Do you see how the movement actually starts before the dancer count? '+ a' is the beginning of the assemble! That ' + a ' is actually musician beats in the 6/8. See below, beats 5 and 6 are the beginning of the assembly!
Musician Beats 5 6 |1 2 3 4 5 6 | 1 2 3 4
Dancer Counts + a 1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4
Exercise ass em ble ass em ble, ass em ble su ta nu
If you look closely, you'll see the fact that each part of this exercise has a musician beat on it! 1 beat for the press into the floor, and 2 beats for air time! Cool, right? 2/3rd of the dancer count is air time and 1/3 is the landing/pressing! Hence why a 6/8 is brilliant for allegro that needs time in the air to accomplish something like an assemble or beat! Galloping across the room? This is why a 6/8 works! The pressing/landing is 1 beat and the air is the beats 2 and 3 (or the '+ a ').
If you struggle with getting the feel of it, maybe your natural inclination is a 2, then stick a finger out in front of you and draw some circles. The bottom of the circle is the dancer count! In the case of a 2/4, just think up and down!
Now.. let's apply this to allegro!
Say you are working the landings of your petite allegro. A 2/4 makes more sense because the landing is getting equal value to airtime.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4
Plie - Jump - Land - Jump - Land - Jump - Land
Do you see the equal amount of time for each?
SIDE NOTE: Because I started out with 'Plie', not a jump, it's immediately clear that my exercise is working the landings not the air time!
If you're confused about whether you want to use a 2/4 or a 6/8 for your petit allegro exercise, consider how many beats of air time you want. If you struggle with getting the musical feeling that you want, you should definitely consider taking The Official Music Training Course for Ballet Teachers (https://www.thebarrepianist.com/THEOMTC) because it's FULL of TOTALLY RELEVANT music knowledge and how to make it useful, including videos, myself at the piano counting, PDF downloads, etc. You, and your dancers, deserve to use and enjoy music at the same level of understanding as any professional school does!
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