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Try out this Dégagé Combination for the Pool!

Try out this Dégagé Combination for the Pool!

swimming pool ladder

This dégagé combination for the pool blog post is the fourth in our series of swimming pool fun and activity. For more articles on this same topic, click here.

If you’ve already read other posts in this series, skip directly to the exercises!

For summer fun and dance practice at the same time, nothing beats ballet in the pool. The workout below is a great form of exercise which adds resistance to your movements and helps you train alignment and balance. Just make sure to use sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your eyes and skin! To continue your dance education, check out our 2019 – 2020 class schedule.

How to do a Dégagé

Dégagé is generally translated as “disengage,” because the dancer’s foot passes through tendu and then “disengages” from the floor. When doing a dégagé front (dégagé devant), make sure all of your weight is in the supporting, or non-working, leg. Both legs should be straight at the beginning, so don’t “sit” into the hip of the standing leg.

To begin the movement, slide the heel of the working leg forward. Allow the rest of the foot to peel off the floor one part at a time; first the heel, then the ball of the foot, then finally the toes. Lift the pointed foot a few inches into the air before you reverse the movement and bring the toes back to the ground. Then roll through the foot in the opposite direction. Lead with the toes this time as you pull the foot back to its starting position. Check out this video for a demonstration of how to perform this step to the side from first.

Dégagé Combination for the Pool

For all of these exercises, stand either facing the side of the pool with your hands resting on the edge to create a stationary barre, or stand anywhere with your hands resting on a pool noodle for a mobile barre.

Always do the exercises correct for your experience level, but if you’re ready, jump to the intermediate or advanced versions of this exercise!

Beginner

If you’re not sure how to do a dégagé, check out our description above!

Stand in first position (heels together, knees and toes pointed out) with your feet on the floor, resting both hands lightly on the barre. Your arms should be mostly straight, but make sure you’re not reaching too far. Keep your shoulders stacked over your hips and your hips stacked over your feet.

Slide your foot forward heel first. Keep your hips still but extend the leg and peel the foot up as you go until only the tip of the big toe is still resting on the ground. Lift the working foot a few inches from the ground. Hold, then bring the toe down to rest on the ground again without putting any weight into the toe. Finally bring the working leg back in, toes leading back and knee straight. Make sure to roll through the foot as you go. Dégagé two more times front, slowly peeling the foot up as you go out and rolling through the foot as you come in.

Repeat this side, back and side, closing in first each time. When you’ve completed the set on one leg, switch and repeat the exercise on the opposite leg. Throughout the exercise, keep your hips still and squared off toward the front. Think of your hipbones as headlights for a car – they should both point in the direction you’re facing.

Intermediate

If this exercise is too much, try the beginner version of this exercise. If you need more, check out our advanced version.

Stand in first position with your feet on the floor and rest one hand lightly on the barre. Rest the other hand on top of your shoulder with the elbow pointed down.

Slide your foot forward heel first, keeping your hips still. Extend the leg and peel the foot up as you go until only the ball of the foot is still resting on the ground. Extend the leg a little farther to rest the tip of the big toe on the ground. Lift the working foot and try actively to stetch the working leg even longer as you lift, hold, and bring the toe down to rest on the ground again. Pull your foot back leading with the toes until the ball of the foot is resting on the ground. Finally pull the working leg back in, toes leading back and knee straight, into first position. Do three quick dégagé front, making sure to roll through the foot and reach the leg long every time.

Repeat side, back and side, closing in first each time. Then turn around and repeat the exercise on the opposite leg. With every dégagé, think of extending your toes long and straight, past where you can reach. This will help you point your toes and extend the leg out of the working hip.

Advanced

If this exercise is too much, check out the intermediate or beginner form of this exercise.

Stand in first position relevé and rest your hand lightly on the barre. Rest the other hand on top of your shoulder with the elbow pointed down.

Dégagé forward two times in slow motion, making sure to articulate through the feet and really feel each part of your foot peel up and then roll back down. Then do four more quick dégagé, closing in first each time. To keep your supporting leg firm and your knees straight in the four quick dégagé, open up through the hip crease of the supporting leg and keep the line from your waist to thigh as flat as possible.

Repeat this front, side, back and side, closing in first each time. Then turn around and repeat the exercise on the opposite leg. Try to preserve the springlike quality of the step while underwater – but don’t forget to maintain your alignment!

That’s it! Students of all levels can repeat this exercise in the pool without using the barre in order to focus on their technique in the individual step, or check out our other pool exercises by clicking here.