I was thinking about grand jetés tonight during yoga for some reason.
To me, they have always been the ultimate expression of perfection in ballet. Forget the pirouette, a silly display of frenetic energy and one-upmanship. The grand jeté is such a thing of beauty, such an expression of joy. They are the only move I find myself still repeating after more years away from ballet (18) than with it (11), sometimes even along the long corridor of the 5th floor at work (too tempting!).
I'm very picky about execution. The best jetés are the ones that almost seem to lift midway through, creating an optical illusion that the dancer has thrown an extra little bit of muscle in there to pull the legs up while suspended in air. A display of tremendous athletic strength (where do you think those giant quads come from?), I so rarely see them these days.
The more common variety is the ballet equivalent of hydroplaning, like a poor unfortunate male dancer I saw last year (company unnamed to protect the innocent) who was in a fight to the finish with gravity: his jetés were condemned to hover unremarkably over the stage for all eternity. It pained me just to watch him.
The grand jeté with a lift is like an unexpected descant in music: this thrilling moment when someone has reached for the impossible and somehow grabbed it.
The past few months have included a mix of both types of jetés, metaphorically speaking. I guess that balances out somehow. Few and far between though they may be, those split-second gravity-defying moments are remarkable, and worth it even if you crash back down to the ground.