ABC of ballet: bourrée
Watch Romany Pajdak execute a series of pas de bourrées.
What is a bourrée?
The word bourrée (pronounced boo-ray) comes from the French for a drunk, or drunkard – perhaps giving some sense of the dance’s spontaneous quality. Bourrées were an 18th-century dance which had many forms but were characterized by low small steps.
Pas de bourrées
In ballet, pas de bourrées are a series of linking steps consisting of three small steps. They may be executed with the back foot or front foot, sideways, forwards, backwards or turning – usually from fifth position to second position to fifth.
Bourrées en couru
Bourrées can also be executed ‘en couru’ as a series of tiny steps on almost straight legs that make the dancer appear to glide. The working leg flexes at the knee and the other is kept straight. The great Swedish-born dancer Marie Taglioni is believed to have been the first dancer to perform this step en pointe in a ballet. She amazed viewers when she glided across the stage as the ghost of a doomed abbess in the Ballet of the Nuns from Act III of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s grand opera Robert le Diable. See, the Short History of Ballet.
Watch Romany Pajdak perform a series of bourrées en couru.
ABC of ballet: One of a series of posts, explaining useful ballet terms.