One of the first things you will learn when you start learning batteries is entrechat quatre.
It is a jump from fifth position, and as you jump, you change your feet twice in the air – if you start with your right foot front fifth, you will beat once, in the air, with your left foot front, and land right foot front fifth position.
The word “entrechat” comes from old French, modification of Italian (capriola) intrecciata, literally, intertwined caper.
Now where does “quatre”, a number 4 come from? This question usually get my dancers thinking hard. The answer is: one has to count how many times your legs move outward and inward. Starting from the fifth position, one opens the legs (1), and then closes, having swapped front and back (2), open again (3) and then closes in fifth position with the initial foot front (4). The initial fifth position is not counted as it is movements that should be counted rather than positions.
In this manner, the same rule applies to entrechat six, entrechat huite, entrechat dix. The odd numbers of entrechat, however, are more complicated. They mean slightly different things depending on methods.
Entrechat trois, for example, usually means a jump where one takes off from fifth position squeezing legs into the fifth position in the air like soubresaut, and then changing feet and finally landing on one foot with the other in coup de pied position. However, in Paris Opera Ballet School, entrechat trois is a jump in which one takes off from the fifth position, squeezing first in fifth position as in soubresaut, and then changing feet and landing in fifth with the opposite foot front. This jump is called changement battu in RAD and ISTD, and entrechat royale in many other methods including Russian.
Entrechat cinq, usually is like an entrechat quatre but landing on one foot with the other in coup de pied position. In Paris Opera Ballet, one squeezes the legs initially in fifth, as in soubresaut, and then one does an entrechat quatre. This jump is not something that can be seen very much outside Paris Opera Ballet.
So, think of the fact that there have to be four (or whatever the number it might be) movements and show off your entrechat quatre (or six, or huite, or …)!