Teaching Tips

Exercises to Improve Your Développé Devant and À La Seconde

Eleanor Hullihan is a professional contemporary dancer in NYC. Photo by Kyle Froman

Développés devant and à la seconde are important movements in almost every genre of Western dance. Often, however, there is a disconnect between obtaining the flexibility to perform these movements and developing the strength to control the same height. With that in mind, here are some exercises to help you obtain and maintain higher développés in dance class.


Before You Begin…

I recognize there are many exercises you could perform to improve your développés. I hope to introduce you to just a few. Before trying these out, there are a few things you should know: first, I think it is important that you master these exercises in the order they are introduced. I have intentionally ordered them from least to most difficult.

Second, these exercises may not be for everyone. Dependent on your injury history and your strength and coordination, these exercises might be too advanced or may not be the right approach for you. If you have questions as to whether or not these exercises are appropriate, ask a physical therapist, athletic trainer or conditioning coach. Similarly, none of these exercises should hurt. If something hurts, you should stop performing these exercises.

What You Need for Strong Développés Devant and Á La Seconde

To perform a solid développé, you must be able to maintain stability and control in your torso and your standing leg. You must also have the strength and flexibility to hold your leg in a chosen position.

Simply put, your hip flexors do the majority of the work to lift or flex your thigh**. Your quadriceps then straighten your knee to complete the développé. I have chosen these exercises because they simultaneously work on abdominal and pelvic control as well as developing the strength to développé your leg. Here we go!

** I have heard the cue from teachers to développé the leg from the hamstrings. This cue is incorrect. Your hamstrings do the opposite motion of a développé á la seconde or devant.

Exercise #1: Dead-bug Variation


Marissa Schaeffer. Photos courtesy of Schaeffer


Start on your back with your spine in neutral, your legs in a table-top position and a TheraBand tied around your feet.


Slowly, extend your right leg while bringing your left knee up to your chest. (Be sure to maintain neutral spine in this position!) Now return your legs to the starting position (see photo one).


Now, turn out your left leg and lift your knee to the side in an externally rotated position and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Exercise #2: Side-Plank Développé



Start by side-planing on your right elbow and knee. Extend your top leg. Be sure your hips are stacked on top of each other.



Without moving your torso or dropping your hips towards the ground, passé your left leg up to your right knee and then bring it back to the starting position (see photo five).


Now, turn out your leg and passé the leg in turnout.


If you have good technique in passé turnout, try to développé your leg. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Stand in a parallel position with a TheraBand tied around your feet and your arms á la seconde.


Slowly lift one leg into a parallel passé while maintaining control of your torso. Lower the leg back down towards the floor.

Repeat the movement shown in photo nine with your gesture leg in a turned out position.

Exercise #4: Kneeling Développé


Start by kneeling on one leg with your opposite leg extended in front of you in a turned out position.


While maintaining an upright torso, slowly lift your leg off of the floor. Hold the top position for a few seconds and then return it the ground.

Now rand de jambe your leg á la seconde.



While maintaining an upright torso, slowly lift your leg off of the floor in this position and then return it to the ground with control. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.