SUR LE COU-DE-PIED
Literally "on the neck of the foot," or on the tapered portion of the leg from the base of the calf to the mid-foot. Sur le cou-de-pied describes the position "on the neck of the foot" of the supporting leg taken by the working foot in a variety of Classical Dance movements.
The position in front, or devant, has four variations including the "basic" position and three "conditional" positions, so named because they are used under certain conditions. There is one position in back, or "derriére," which remains the same in all cases.
In all five positions the foot of the working leg is fully stretched through the instep and toes with the Achilles' tendon well pulled up towards the calf muscle, as if extended in battement tendu. Both legs are actively turned out and the heel of the working foot held well forward. Care must be taken never to relax, sickle or evert the working foot.
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COMING TO TERMS
Sur le cou-de-pied vs. Coupé. What's the difference?
Sur le cou-de-pied (sewr-luh-koo-du-PYAY) refers to the position on the supporting leg of the working foot. Coupé (Koo-PAY), or "to cut," is not a position at all but an auxiliary movement done on the upbeat as a preparation or impetus for the step that follows. One foot "cuts" away the other and takes its place, either sharply as in an impetus for a jump or smoothly as in an adagio-coupé. It may be done in place or while moving out in any direction. A coupé may be executed from the position sur le cou-de-pied: as a connecting movement between the two jumps pas jeté and assemblé, for example.