Michele Assaf is on faculty at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She is also co-founder of Tezoro Productions Live, the producers of this instructional DVD. She has directed, produced and choreographed for opera, theater, and recording artists across the country.
This one-hour DVD contains a video index of turns and a segment of across the floor turning combinations. The index covers turns large and small, from chaines all the way to grand pirouettes and fouette turns, in classical and contemporary shapes. The enchainements range from the very simple—four chaines and a balance in retire—to quite complex—a variety of ball-change and pirouette combinations, with interesting rhythmic and dynamic variations in the turns and transitions. Each turn and combination is shown as a balance or shape-by shape breakdown, then a single turn, then at a faster tempo or with multiple turns. Groups of students show each level of difficulty, and it’s interesting and helpful to see the individual style and dynamic of each dancer, especially for the more advanced combinations. Assaf states that the key in learning to turn lies in each dancer feeling the sensation of centered turning in his or her own body.
Regrettably, Assaf uses a breakdown for linked pique turns that’s all too common, but ineffective. First, the rond de jambe from front to side to prepare for pique turns en dedans, and next, a tombe to the side for piques en dehors. The physics of movement make the extra action of rond de jambe counterproductive in linked turns, and to tombe over second results in a turned-in second leg. The more advanced dancers disprove the usefulness of the breakdowns. Especially for multiple rotations, they simply pique or tombe forward over fourth position.
As a grab-bag of material, this DVD has a lot to offer, but it provides comparatively little in terms of analysis or useful correction. Its value is in the quantity and clarity of the content presented.
Here’s a look at the video: