Coupe Confusion and Pointing Feet

The way my first two ballet teachers taught us to coupe our foot was more or less the same: in front of our supporting leg’s ankle, making sure to touch it with the toes and not the heel, lest your foot be sickling. I guess sort of like this

image or if you prefer without the shoes so it can be clearer


So that’s the way I’ve been practicing it this whole time, and I’ve gotten used to bringing it up to passe from that positionimage


My new teacher however, teaches us to coupe in a slightly different way: we are to wrap our foot around our supporting ankle – so that it’s behind it? – and then when we bring it up to passe we bring it to the front to the knee.


Sort of like this.

It’s an adjustment, that’s for sure. I’m still trying to figure out how to comfortably get into that position. It might require greater hip flexibiity/ turnout than the original way I learned how to do it. Or it could just be one of those things that after you’ve been practicing for a year and a half it will make sense. Who knows?

In other news, I still can’t point my left (the one I recently sprained) foot as well as the right foot, but at least there’s no pain and it doesn’t feel sore or weird. Little things to be greatful for.

Here’s the right foot…
and here’s the left

Feels so good to be back to practicing!

12 thoughts on “Coupe Confusion and Pointing Feet

  1. kitteacat

    I think coupe position depends on if your working foot is forward or behind . . . Madame has taught us when coupe to the front, the toes are at the ankle (no sickle 😊) and when coupe behind, the heel is at the ankle (again to maintain turn out). At the barre we will pull up to passé from either front or back, and the switch if necessary depending the next move.
    Hope you continue to heal quickly!

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      Yeah the thing is this was specifically for the front coupe. My previous teachers have taught the front coupe exactly as you described – and that’s the way I’ve learned it – and the back coupe in this class is the same as taught by my past teachers.
      Now, in this class there’s a center combination that involves bringing up the foot from the back to passe in front as well. I’m still getting used to that as well…

  2. asher

    Interesting! We use the second variation (which Margie describes as “Sur le coup de pied,” literally “on the neck of the foot!”) with the toe “wrapped,” as it were, when the working leg is in front, which is also how I learned it as a kid. I think both variants are valid, though.

    Increasing turnout does help, as does the ability to wing the foot, and I’ve also found that doing tons of petite battemente in sur-le-coup-de-pied also helps. Which is good, because we do lots and lots and lots of it!

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      Would you happen to know which style you’re learning that does it the “wrapped” way? I haven’t asked this teacher what style we’re learning, but my one of my previous teachers taught RAD style, the other I’m not sure.
      I should probably work more on my petit battements. As always, repetition helps! πŸ™‚

  3. Bush Ballerina

    I know for sure that the Russian style wraps their coupes as I just did a class with a Russian teacher, teaching Russian ballet and we had to do the wrapped thing. I got a little lost on it for a while, as did some other students. It definitely requires you to relax your hip and knee in order to twist the foot around. Glad your ankle is getting batter! πŸ™‚

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      That’s pretty neat! I’ve enjoyed watching videos of Russian-trained dancers taking class but I’d never noticed the coupes. Too busy being distracted by their amazing extensions and graceful port de bras. I will work on relaxing my hip and knee, thanks. πŸ™‚

  4. asher

    Okay, I asked Margie about this tonight, and she said largely what Bush Ballerina said — the Russian style (including Vaganova) is very conscious of using a wrapped foot in coupe, but some other styles do it without the wrap. Apparently this can lead to confusion for dancers who move from one company to another, since different companies might want different coupes! Both approaches, however, are considered valid.

    I admit, though, I have a soft spot for the wrapped version. It’s so pretty!


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