Bag of Steps: Big Jumps (Part 1)


This post is devoted to big jumps, usually the territory of  male dancers, though some of them are also done by ballerinas. These tend to draw gasps and applause from audiences (after all, some of them are extremely hard!) and comments in dance reviews. Given there are plenty of jumps in the ballet syllabus, we will focus first on a small subset. As usual, our intention is not to teach but to pass on general knowledge and illustrate the movements with words, images and video links.

Grand Jeté

This is probably a jump that features on most ballet performances. Jeté means, literally, thrown. In this step the dancer throws each leg at 90 degrees (and opposite directions) while jumping. It is usually preceded by a step like a glissade to gain momentum, followed by an arabesque position or attitude.

Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg doing parallel grand jetés. Photo: Bill Cooper - The Royal Ballet ©. Source: Dansomanie

Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg doing parallel grand jetés. Photo: Bill Cooper - The Royal Ballet ©. Source: Dansomanie

When grand jetés are done around the stage in a continuous sequence, as is typical in a classical male variation (note the princes’s variations in Swan Lake & The Sleeping Beauty), they are usually refered to as Jetés en manège.

Jeté Entrelacé (or Tour Jeté)

A grand jeté done in a circle. While the dancer throws the front leg, the body turns and the second leg is thrown to the back.

Here Dutch student Marijn executes a beautiful entrelacé.


A step in which both legs are beaten in the air. The dancer starts with a grand battement and the leg that is underneath follows and beats the front leg, sending it higher. The dancer lands on the leg underneath. If there are two beats, it is usually referred as double.  This step can be done from any position of the body (devant, derriere or à la seconde).

The Royal Ballet’s Johan Kobborg executes a couple of cabriolés, in the Don Quixote variation.

Saut de Basque

This is a travelling jump. The dancer starts with a grand battement à la seconde, and the body turns, while the pushing foot folds into the other leg, positioning itself in a coupé position (that is, in front of the ankle) and landing in fondu.

Here Houston Ballet’s Randy Herrera does a saut de basque at the end of a sequence of turns.

Barrel Turns

This is a very flashy bravura step. The dancer turns in the air, throwing one leg to the back in attitude to lead the movement, while bringing the other leg along.

The Royal Ballet’s Carlos Acosta does a series of barrels (around the 1.53 mark), in this extract of Le Corsaire, with some saut de basques at the beginning.

The “540″

A variation of the barrel turn where the body turns 540 degrees. The throwing leg stays in the same position, while the other leg moves over it. This daredevil, not-your-everyday-jump is usually reserved for galas.

Here Mariinsky’s Denis Matvienko does a couple of 540′s in the coda of Le Corsaire.

Sources and Further Information:

Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant. BN Publishing. ISBN 1607960311.

Note: Whilst we have used widely known names for these jumps, note that terminology might vary slightly from school to school.

Her favourite ballets feel like good books – one can see them 1,000 times and they always feel fresh. Linda loves Giselle, all full-length MacMillan plus Song of the Earth, Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering, Balanchine’s Serenade and Agon, Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet and Symphonic Variations.


  • [...] desse jeito e levantar rapidinho?! Não é não? E não é incrível o que os outros fazem, esses jetés en manège(?), depois esses tour en’lair em passé (isso existe?), com ponta esticada, abdômen firme, [...]

  • July 29, 2010


    I’ve never heard of that term before, but actually blinchiki (without the second n) is a type of Russian pancake!! ;). Chassé en tournant is a more standard term.

  • July 28, 2010


    Hi¡¡ I would like to know more about this term; BLINCHINKI.
    In the syllabus ballet it means; tour sissonne tombe or chassé en tournant.
    But anyone use it at the technical classes because everybody normally use ”chassé en tournant´´ or “tour sissonne tombé´´, when I require from my student I would like to know something more about your experience. Thanks.

  • March 15, 2010

    Brighter Than Sunshine

    [...] her over as well). He is also still capable of delivering Colas’ trademark flashy series of tour-jetés and grand pirouettes which, despite more understated now than a few years back (Acosta is gearing [...]

  • [...] – six girls and two soloist couples – grand jeté-ing across the stage. The main couple enters in a manège of grand jetés interlaced with single saut-de-basques and temps levée. They get to the middle of a [...]

  • July 17, 2009


    Thanks! We weren’t aware it was called “revoltade”. Quite fitting and yes, also “death wish” is spot on!.

  • July 16, 2009


    The 540 can also be referred to as a revoltade, which is more fun to say, and makes you seem fancy shmancy. I recommend rolling the “r,” just for funsies.

    And sometimes I also call it “the death wish.”

  • [...] July 16, 2009 by Linda In this post we continue to look at some of the big jumps that have historically filled the vision of many choreographers and which continue to fill the eyes of an audience. Our focus is on a set of common jumps, which tend to occur in almost every classical variation rather than on the flashy jumps which we already covered in Part 1. [...]

  • June 28, 2009


    Thanks so much for the support Nichelle! Yes, the idea is definitely to keep ‘em coming!!

  • June 28, 2009


    Love these terminology posts! Keep ‘em coming!!