Wednesday, August 22, 2012

History of the word "fouetté"

 The word "fouetté" can be traced ultimately back to the Latin name for the beech tree, fagus, which in Old French became fou (not to be confused with the modern French word fou meaning "crazy", though one might think that a more appropriate description of the movement!). Add a diminutive -et ending to fou, and a fouet was a young or small beech tree and then a stick of beech wood used for beating, before finally settling down to its modern meaning, "whip", which describes the action of the working leg in a fouetté.

Viengsay Valdes of Cuban National Ballet performs the Black Swan fouettés stunningly:



And here's the unusual sight of a man doing 32 fouettés, Paris Opera Ballet's Jose Martinez in Harald Lander's Etudes (starting at about 4:10):



For the history of the word "adage", click here.
For "entrechat", click here
For "bourrée", click here
For "pirouette", click here, and to find out what dancing has to do with falling over, click here.


If you love ballet, check out my season of outstanding ballet trips in 2012-13 by clicking here.

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3 comments:

  1. Hi, Wordsmith:

    Just found your web site via "Ballet Alert". What a creative idea of doing a "etymology of ballet terms" series. Being a wordsmith & having an extensive ballet background, I find it most interesting. Thank you so very much. I am sure I will be back in touch re booking ballet trips. With a triple tour en l'air landing on my elbow, I grand jete into cyberspace.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope the next posts in the series will give you as much pleasure. Careful with those triple tours!

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  2. Now THAT was an INTERESTING ballet (Harald Lander's Etudes). Thanks Katherine!

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