The chaines turns are a move used in both contemporary and ballet dancing to move across the stage. This turn is done on the toes on a diagonal. You’ll notice that the movements of the step draw out a chain pattern on the floor. That’s what gives this turn its name. Chaîné means “chain” in French!
To do a chaines turn, you will want to put your arms in first position in front of you and your feet in either first or fifth position. You will come up on to your toes in one of those positions and then turn back to front following a diagonal line to the point you are trying to move to. If you are just learning chaines turns, then you may want to practice in first position so you don't have to maintain fifth position. It is important to keep your motions tight and careful so that, if you need to, you can perform these turns more quickly.
When you are doing chaines, two things are important, posture and direction. To ensure that you have both of these elements perfected, you can practice chaines turns with your hands on their matching shoulders (ie. left hand on left shoulder) and work one doing each half turn individually until you can do them easily in sequence.
Exercising with Chaines Turns:
Chaines turns are an important and useful transition, but they are also a great way to practice your posture and strengthen your ankles. These turns rely heavily on posture, so practicing them will encourage you to maintain perfect posture when you perform other moves as well as in everyday situations. Chaines are also great for strengthening your ankles because you have to lift up onto your ankles and stay there as you turn. Strong ankles are a great asset in many different types of dance, so working on being able to hold weight while up on your toes is great!
Dos and Don'ts:
- Practice your posture.
- Remember that each step is a half turn
- Keep your eyes on your intended destination to maintain your diagonal
- Let your movements fall apart. You want to keep your movements tight to encourage balance and speed.
- Be afraid to travel.