Grand Jeté and Saut de chat

Leaping language!  Grand jeté and saut de chat are the two major ballet leaps, and each movement is directly tied to the meaning of the term representing it.  In a nutshell, the grand jeté is performed with a straight take-off leg, and in the saut de chat, the front leg performs a développé.

First things first:  What's a leap? Outside of the dance world, a leap can be any wide or long jump, often traveling over or across something, but within the dance world, there is a consensus that a leap transitions from one foot to the other.

Grand jeté - [gʀɑ̃ ʒ(ə)te] pronounced "gr" as in the first two letters of great, "and" combines to make only the sound of an open-mouthed ahhh with the sound coming out of both the mouth and nose at the same time.  Avoid pronouncing the "nd" because jeté is masculine.  (Note:  For feminine terms, the adjective would be changed to grande and the "d" would be pronounced). "je" sounds like the S in measure, (the "e" can be pronounced or swallowed), "té" sound like tay, trying not to pronounce the final Y

The verb jeter means to throw or toss and grand, meaning large, indicates the expansive size of the movement.  Jeté, as a step that changes from one foot to the other, exists in even the earliest dance dictionaries, but the use of the term grand jeté becomes much more frequent in the first half of the 20th century.  A grand jeté is a large throw from one leg to the other, specifically with the legs straight in the air.  The movement begins with a plié of the supporting leg and a grand battement of the working leg.  As the back leg leaves the floor, it straightens as well.  The legs are straight at all times in the air and only bend when in contact with the floor.

Saut de chat - [so dә ʃa] pronounced "saut" like the English word so, "de" as if you were practicing the sound the letter D makes, and "chat" like the English word shah.

Saut de chat translated literally means the jump or leap (think of a bound) of the cat.  The ballet movement mimics almost exactly the motion of the cat's leap.  (Check out the video below).  The cat moves from a deep bend of the legs, lifts the front paws bending them at the "knee," springs off the back legs, and stretches long in the air.  The ballet movement comes from a deep plié with the front leg leaving the floor in a pathway that extends through a développé to a straight position, and pushing off the back leg, which will straighten as it does in a grand jeté.