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ABC of ballet: bourrée

Watch Romany Pajdak execute a series of pas de bourrées.

By Royal Opera House

9 March 2011 at 5.39pm | 1 Comment

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.

By Royal Opera House

9 March 2011 at 5.39pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged abc of ballet, bourrée, Education, romany pajdak, The Royal Ballet

This article has 1 comment

  1. Although coincidentally the word "bourré" does mean "drunk" in French slang, this is very unlikely to be the source of the the name for the dance step, which is attested since 1565, long before the "drunk" sense. Originally a bourrée was a dance from Auvergne performed around a bonfire, and "bourrée" was also used to mean a bundle of wood stuffed with wool for kindling (the verb "bourrer" meaning "to stuff").

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