Ballet Terminology


Ballet Terminology

Adage [ a-DAHZH]
In dancing it has two meanings: (1) A series of exercises following the centre practice, consisting of a succession of slow and graceful movements which may be simple or of the most complex character, performed with fluidity and apparent ease. These exercises develop a sustaining power, sense of line, balance and the beautiful poise, which enables the dancer to perform with majesty and grace.

Brisk, lively. A term applied to all bright and brisk movements. All steps of elevation such as the entrechat, cabriole, assemblé, jeté and so on come under this classification. The most important qualities to aim at in allégro are lightness, smoothness and ballon.

Á la seconde [ah la suh-GAWND]
To the second. A term to imply that the foot is to be placed in the second position, or that a movement is to be made to the second position en l'air. As, for example, in grand battement à la seconde.

Arabesque [a-ra-BESK]
One of the basic poses in ballet, arabesque takes its name from a form of Moorish ornament. In ballet it is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, which can be straight or demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various harmonious positions creating the longest possible line from the fingertips to the toes. The shoulders must be held square to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied to infinity. The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques; the Russian School (Vaganova), four; and the French School, two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps, both in the slow movements of adagio and the brisk, gay movements of allégro.

Assemblé [a-sahn-BLAY]
Assembled or joined together. A step in which the working foot slides well along the ground before being swept into the air. As the foot goes into the air the dancer pushes off the floor with the supporting leg, extending the toes. Both legs come to the ground simultaneously in the fifth position.

Attitude [a-tee-TEWD]
A particular pose in dancing derived by Carlo Blasis from the statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. It is a position on one leg with the other lifted in back, the knee bent at an angle of 90 degrees and well turned out so that the knee is higher than the foot. The supporting foot may be à terre, sur la pointe or sur la demi-pointe. The arm on the side of the raised leg is held over the head in a curved position while the other arm is extended to the side. There are a number of attitudes according to the position of the body in relation to the audience.

Á terre [a tehr]
On the ground. This term indicates: (1) that the entire base of the supporting foot or feet touches the ground; (2) that the foot usually raised in a pose is to remain on the ground with the toes extended.

Ballet [ba-LAY]
A theatrical work or entertainment in which a choreographer has expressed his ideas in group and solo dancing to a musical accompaniment with appropriate costumes, scenery and lighting.

Ballet master, ballet mistress
The person in a ballet company whose duty is to give the daily company class and to rehearse the ballets in the company repertoire.

Ballotté [ba-law-TAY]
Tossed. This step consists of coupé dessous and coupé dessus performed in a series with a rocking, swinging movement. The step may be performed with straight knees at 45 degrees or with développés at 90.


A ballet fan or enthusiast. The word was invented in Russia in the early nineteenth century.

Barre [bar]
The horizontal wooden bar fastened to the walls of the ballet classroom or rehearsal hall which the dancer holds for support. Every ballet class begins with exercices at the bar. See Exercices à la barre.

Battement tendu [bat-MAHN tahn-DEW]
stretched. The working foot slides from the first or fifth position to the second or fourth position without lifting the toe from the ground. When the foot reaches the position pointe tendue, it then returns to the first or fifth position.

Battement dégagé [bat-MAHN day-ga-ZHAY]
Disengaged battement. A term of the Cecchetti method. The battement dégagé is similar to the battement tendu but is done at twice the speed and the working foot rises about four inches from the floor with a well-pointed toe, then slides back into the first or fifth position.

Battement frappé [bat-MAHN fra-PAY]
Struck battement. An exercise in which the dancer forcefully extends the working leg from a cou-de-pied position to the front, side or back. This exercise strengthens the toes and insteps and develops the power of elevation.

Bras [brah]

Bras bas [brah bah]
Arms low or down. This is the dancer's "attention." The arms form a circle with the palms facing each other and the back edge of the hands resting on the thighs. The arms should hang quite loosely but not allowing the elbows to touch the sides.

Brisé [bree-ZAY]
Broken, breaking. A small beating step in which the movement is broken. Brisés are commenced on one or two feet and end on one or two feet. They are done dessus, dessous, en avant and en arrière. Fundamentally a brisé is an assemblé beaten and traveled. The working leg brushes from the fifth position to the second position so that the point of the foot is a few inches off the ground, and beats in front of or behind the other leg, which has come to meet it; then both feet return to the ground simultaneously in demi-plié in the fifth position.

Brisé volé [bree-ZAY vaw-LAY]
Flying brisé. In this brisé the dancer finishes on one foot after the beat, the other leg crossed either front or back. The foundation of this step is a fouetté movement with a jeté battu. In the Russian and French Schools the raised leg finishes sur le cou-de-pied devant or derrière and the brisé volé is done like a jeté battu. In the Cecchetti method, the working foot passes through the first position to the fourth position, the calves are beaten together and on alighting the free leg is extended forward or back with a straight knee.

Cinq [senk]
Five. As, for example, in entrechat cinq.

Cinq positions des pieds [sen paw-zee-SYAWN day pyay]
Five positions of the feet. There are five basic positions of the feet in classical ballet, and every step or movement is begun and ended in one or another of these positions, which were established by Pierre Beauchamp, maître de ballet of the Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse from 1671 to 1687.

Cinquième [sen-KYEM]
Fifth. As in cinquième arabesque.

Cabriole [ka-bree-AWL]
Cabriole. An allegro step in which the extended legs are beaten in the air. Cabrioles are divided into two categories: petite, which are executed at 45 degrees, and grande, which are executed at 90 degrees. The working leg is thrust into the air, the underneath leg follows and beats against the first leg, sending it higher. The landing is then made on the underneath leg. Cabriole may be done devant, derrière and à la seconde in any given position of the body such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc


The male partner of the ballerina

Cecchetti Method

Enrico Cecchetti, one of the world's outstanding teachers of ballet, established a system of passing on the tradition of ballet to future generations of dancers. This system, the Cecchetti method, was codified and recorded by Cyril Beaumont, Stanislas Idzikowski, Margaret Craske and Derra de Moroda. The method has a definite program of strict routine and includes a table of principal set daily exercises for each day of the week. The Cecchetti Society was formed in London in 1922 to perpetuate his method of teaching. In 1924 the Society was incorporated into the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Entrance to the Society is by examination and students must pass through a carefully graded system which has done much to raise the standard of dancing and teaching throughout the British Empire.

Centre Practice

Centre practice, or exercices au milieu, is the name given to a group of exercises similar to those à la barre but performed in the centre of the room without the support of the bar. These exercises are usually performed with alternate feet and are invaluable for obtaining good balance and control.

Chains, links. This is an abbreviation of the term "tours chaînés déboulés": a series of rapid turns on the points or demi-pointes done in a straight line or in a circle.

Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series.

This is the term applied to one who composes or invents ballets or dances.


This is a term used to describe the actual steps, groupings and patterns of a ballet or dance composition.

Classical ballet

(1) The traditional style of ballet, which stresses the academic technique developed through the centuries of the existence of ballet.
(2) A ballet in which the style and structure adhere to the definite framework established in the nineteenth century. Examples of classical ballets are Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.


(1) The finale of a classical ballet in which all the principal dancers appear separately or with their partners.
(2) The final dance of the classic pas de deux, pas de trois or pas de quatre.


Corps de ballet
[kawr duh ba-LAY]
The dancers in a ballet who do not appear as soloists.

Couru [koo-REW]
Running. As, for example, in pas de bourrée couru.

Croisé [kmJah-ZAY]
Crossed. One of the directions of épaulement. The crossing of the legs with the body placed at an oblique angle to the audience. The disengaged leg may be crossed in the front or in the back.

Danse [dahnss]

Danse de caractère [dahnss duh ka-rak-TEHR]
Dance of character, character dance. Any national or folk dance, or a dance based on movements associated with a particular profession, trade, personality or mode of living. See Mazurka and Polonaise.

De côté
[duh koh-TAY]
Sideways. Used to indicate that a step is to be made to the side, either to the right or to the left.

Half-bend of the knees. All steps of elevation begin and end with a demi-plié.

Behind, back. This term may refer to a movement, step or placing of a limb in back of the body. In reference to a particular step, the addition of derrière implies that the working foot is closed at the back.

Under. Indicates that the working foot passes behind the supporting foot. As, for example, in pas de bourrée dessous.

Over. Indicates that the working foot passes in front of the supporting foot. As, for example, in pas de bourrée dessus.

Deux [duh]


In front. This term may refer to a step, movement or the placing of a limb in front of the body. In reference to a particular step the addition of the word "devant" implies that the working foot is closed in the front

Diversion, enjoyment. A suite of numbers called "entrées," inserted into a classic ballet. These short dances are calculated to display the talents of individuals or groups of dancers.


Double. As, for example, in pirouette double (a double pirouette).

Double cabriole
[DOO-bluh ka-bree-AWL]
Double cabriole. This is a cabriole in which one leg strikes the other in the air two or more times before landing.

Échappé [ay-sha-PAY]
Escaping or slipping movement. An échappé is a level opening of both feet from a closed to an open position. There are two kinds of échappés: échappé sauté, which is done with a spring from the fifth position and finishes in a demi-plié in the open position, and échappé sur les pointes, or demi-pointes, which is done with a relevé and has straight knees when in the open position. In each case échappés are done to the second or fourth position, both feet traveling an equal distance from the original center of gravity.

Shaded. One of the directions of épaulement in which the dancer stands at an oblique angle to the audience so that a part of the body is taken back and almost hidden from view. This direction is termed "ouvert" in the French method. Effacé is also used to qualify a pose in which the legs are open (not crossed). This pose may be taken devant or derrière, either à terre or en l'air.

En arrière
[ah na-RYEHR]
Backward. Used to indicate that a step is executed moving away from the audience. As, for example, in glissade en arrière.

En avant
[ah na-VAHN]
Forward. A direction for the execution of a step. Used to indicate that a given step is executed moving forward, toward the audience. As, for example, in glissade en avant.

É carté
Separated, thrown wide apart. Écarté is one of the eight directions of the body, Cecchetti method. In this position the dancer faces either one of the two front corners of the room. The leg nearer the audience is pointed in the second position à terre or raised to the second position en l'air. The torso is held perpendicular. The arms are held en attitude with the raised arm being on the same side as the extended leg.

En croix
[ahn krwah]
In the shape of a cross. Indicates that an exercise is to be executed to the fourth position front, to the second position and to the fourth position back, or vice versa. As, for example, in battements tendus en croix.

En l'air
[ahn lehr]
In the air. Indicates: (1) that a movement is to be made in the air; for example, rond de jambe en l'air; (2) that the working leg, after being opened to the second or fourth position à terre, is to be raised to a horizontal position with the toe on the level of the hip.

En tournant
[ahn toor-NAHN]
Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé en tournant.

Entrechat [ahn-truh-SHAH]
Interweaving or braiding. A step of beating in which the dancer jumps into the air and rapidly crosses the legs before and behind each other. Entrechats are counted from two to ten according to the number of crossings required and counting each crossing as two movements, one by each leg; that is, in an entrechat quatre each leg makes two distinct movements. Entrechats are divided into two general classes: the even-numbered entrechats, or those which land on two feet-- deux, quatre, six, huit and dix-- and the odd-numbered entrechats, or those which land on one foot-- trois, cinq, sept and neuf.

Entrechat six
[ahn-truh-SHAH seess]
Six crossings. Demi-plié in the fifth position R foot front. With a strong jump open the legs, beat the R leg behind the L, open the legs, beat the R leg in front of the L, open the legs and finish in demi-plié in the fifth position R foot back.

É paulement
Shouldering. The placing of the shoulders. A term used to indicate a movement of the torso from the waist upward, bringing one shoulder forward and the other back with the head turned or inclined over the forward shoulder. The two fundamental positions of épaulement are croisé and effacé. When épaulement is used the position of the head depends upon the position of the shoulders and the shoulder position depends upon the position of the legs. Épaulement gives the finishing artistic touch to every movement and is a characteristic feature of the modern classical style compared to the old French style. Which has little épaulement.

En face
[ahn fahss]
Opposite (the audience); facing the audience.

En dedans
[ahn duh-DAHN]
Inward. In steps and exercises the term en dedans indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air, moves in a circular direction, counterclockwise from back to front. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dedans. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made inward toward the supporting leg.

En dehors
[ahn duh-AWR]
Outward. In steps and exercises the term en dehors indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air, moves in a circular direction, clockwise. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dehors. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made outward toward the working leg.

Interweaving or braiding. A step of beating in which the dancer jumps into the air and rapidly crosses the legs before and behind each other. Entrechats are counted from two to ten according to the number of crossings required and counting each crossing as two movements, one by each leg; that is, in an entrechat quatre each leg makes two distinct movements. Entrechats are divided into two general classes: the even-numbered entrechats, or those which land on two feet - deux, quatre, six, huit and dix - and the odd-numbered entrechats, or those which land on one foot - trois, cinq, sept and neuf.

Exercices à la barre
[eg-zehr-SEESS a lah bar]
Exercises at the bar (or barre). A group of exercises performed by the dancer while clasping a bar with one hand. This bar, generally a cylindrical piece of wood is fastened horizontally to the walls of the practice room at a height of about three feet six inches from the floor. Bar exercises, or side practice, are the foundation of classical ballet and are to the dancer what scales are to the pianist. Every ballet lesson begins with these exercises. It is at the bar that the dancer acquires the fundamental training for the attributes he must possess. These exercises are essential for developing the muscles correctly, turning the legs out from the hips and gaining control and flexibility of the joints and muscles. The exercises at the bar can be simple or varied but in general they include the following movements:
(l) Pliés in the first, second, fourth and fifth positions.
(2) Battements tendus.
(3) Battements dégagés.
(4) Battements fondus.
(5) Ronds de jambe à terre.
(6) Battements frappés.
(7) Adagio.
(8) Petits battements sur le cou-de-pied.
(9) Ronds de jambe en l'air.
(10) Grands battements.

Fondu [fawn-DEW]
Sinking down. A term used to describe a lowering of the body made by bending the knee of the supporting leg. Saint-Leon wrote, "Fondu is on one leg what a plié is on two

Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant
[fweh-TAY rawn duh zhahnb ahn toor-NAHN]
Whipped circle of the leg turning. This is the popular turn in which the dancer executes a series of turns on the supporting leg while being propelled by a whipping movement of the working leg. The whipping leg should be at hip level, with the foot closing in to the knee of the supporting leg. Fouettés are usually done in a series.

French School

The French School of ballet began in the court ceremonies of the French monarchs. Louis XIV studied with the famous ballet master Pierre Beauchamp and established the first academy of dancing, known as the Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse, in Paris in 1661. The École de Danse de l'Opéra was founded in 1713 and is now known as the École de Danse du Théâtre National de l'Opéra. Among its most famous ballet masters were Beauchamp, Pécour, Lany, Noverre, G. and A. Vestris, M. and P. Gardel, F. Taglioni, Mazilier, Saint-Léon, Mérante, Staats, Aveline and Lifar. The French School was known for its elegance and soft, graceful movements rather than technical virtuosity. Its influence spread throughout Europe and is the basis of all ballet training.

First position (Première position):
In this position the feet form one line, heels touching one another.

Fourth position
(Quatrième position):
In the fourth position the placement of the feet is similar to that in the third position, the feet being parallel and separated by the strength of one foot. This is the classical fourth position but it may also be done with the feet in the first position, only separated by the space of one foot. The former is known as quatrième position croisée (crossed fourth position), while the latter is called quatrième position ouverte (open fourth position). Today quatrième position croisée is done with the feet placed as in the fifth position, parallel and separated by the length of one foot, instead of the third position.

Fifth position (Cinquième position):
In the fifth position, Cecchetti method, the feet are crossed so that the first joint of the big toe shows beyond either heel. In the French and Russian Schools the feet are completely crossed so that the heel of the front foot touches the toe of the back foot and vice versa.

Glissade [glee-SAD]
Glide. A traveling step executed by gliding the working foot from the fifth position in the required direction, the other foot closing to it. Glissade is a terre à terre step and is used to link other steps. After a demi-plié in the fifth position the working foot glides along the floor to a strong point a few inches from the floor. The other foot then pushes away from the floor so that both knees are straight and both feet strongly pointed for a moment; then the weight is shifted to the working foot with a fondu. The other foot, which is pointed a few inches from the floor, slides into the fifth position in demi-plié.

Grand battement
[grahn bat-MAHN]
Large battement. An exercise in which the working leg is raised from the hip into the air and brought down again, the accent being on the downward movement, both knees straight. This must be done with apparent ease, the rest of the body remaining quiet. The function of grands battements is to loosen the hip joints and turn out the legs from the hips. Grands battements can be taken devant, derrière and à la seconde.

Grand assemblé en tournant
[grahn ta-sahn-BLAY ahn toor-NAHN]
Big assemblé, turning. This assemblé is done in the same manner as grand assemblé. It is traveled directly to the side, on a diagonal traveling upstage, in a circle, etc.

Grand battement en cloche
[grahn bat-MAHN ahn klawsh]
Large battement like a bell. Grands battements en cloche are continuous grands battements executed from the fourth position front or back en l'air to the fourth position back or front en l'air, passing through the first position.

Grand jeté
[grahn zhuh-TAV]
Large jeté. In this step the legs are thrown to 90 degrees with a corresponding high jump.

Grand jeté en avant
[grahn zhuh-TAY ah na-VAHN]
Large jeté forward. The jump is done on the foot which is thrown forward as in grand battement at 90 degrees, the height of the jump depending on the strength of the thrust and the length of the jump depending on the strong push-off of the other leg which is thrust up and back. The dancer tries to remain in the air in a definitely expressed attitude or arabesque and descends to the ground in the same pose.

Grand pas de deux
[grahn pah duh duh]
Grand dance for two. It differs from the simple pas de deux in that it has a definite structure. As a general rule the grand pas de deux falls into five parts: entrée, adage, variation for the danseuse, variation for the danseur, and the coda, in which both dancers dance together.

Grande pirouette à la seconde
[grahrul peer-WET a lah suh-GAWND]
Large pirouette in the second position. This pirouette is usually performed by male dancers. It is a series of turns on one foot with the free leg raised to the second position en l'air at 90 degrees.

Grande sissonne ouverte
[grahnd see-SAWN oo-VEHRT]
Big open sissonne. This sissonne is usually performed with high elevation and is done from a demi-plié on both feet and finished on one foot with the other leg raised in the desired pose, such as attitude, arabesque, à la seconde, etc. It is performed en avant, en arrière, de côté, en tournant.



Italian School

The Imperial Dancing Academy connected with La Scala in Milan was opened in 1812. Its greatest period began when Carlo Blasis, Italian dancer and teacher, became its director in 1837. Blasis published two textbooks, Treatise on the Art of Dancing and Code of Terpischore, in which he codified his teaching methods and all that was known of ballet technique. These books form the basis of our modern classical training. Blasis trained most of the famous Italian dancers ot the era, and his pupil Giovanni Lepri was the teacher of Enrico Cecchetti, one of the greatest teachers in the history of ballet. It was Cecchetti who brought the Italian School to its peak. The Italian School was known for its strong, brilliant technique and the virtuosity of its dancers, who astonished the audience with their difficult steps and brilliant turns.

Jambe [zhahnb]

Jeté battu
[zhuh-TAY ba-TEW]
Jeté beaten.

Jeté entrelacé
[zhuh-TAY ahn-truh-la-SAY]
Jeté interlaced. A term of the Russian School. This jeté is done in all directions and in a circle. It is usually preceded by a chassé or a pas couru to give impetus to the jump. In the French School this is called "grand jeté dessus en tournant"; in the Cecchetti method, "grand jeté en tournant en arrière."

This is a system of dance notation invented by the Hungarian-born teacher Rudolf von Laban. This system has been developed and perfected by the Dance Notation Bureau, which was founded in New York in 1940 and introduced the term in 1953. Many ballets have been notated by the Bureau, which has compiled a library of works in Labanotation, including the previous edition of the present book (notated by Allan Miles).

Leçon [luh-SAWN]
Lesson. The daily class taken by dancers throughout their career to continue learning and to maintain technical proficiency. It consists of exercices à la barre (side practice) followed by exercices au milieu (centre practice), port de bras, pirouette practice and petit and grand allégro.

A Polish folk dance in 3/4 time , which has been introduced into a number of ballets as a character dance.

(French: Méthodes [may-TAWD])
Academic ballet as we know it today came into being in the year 1661, when King Louis XIV of France founded the Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse. Although individual Milanese dancing-masters had been renowned since the fifteenth century, the permanent Imperial Dancing Academy connected with La Scala Theatre was not opened until 1812. The Academy at Milan influenced Paris and especially Russia through the rules of education drawn up by Carlo Blasis, who became director of the Academy in 1837 and rapidly made it the centre of ballet activity.
By the middle of the nineteenth century the ballet centres of the world had shifted from Paris and Milan to St. Petersburg and Moscow. The Russian School first derived its technique from France but by the middle of the nineteenth century it had acquired an international aspect through the influence of international artists. From the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century Russian ballet was dominated by Marius Petipa, a Frenchman, and Christian Johannsen, a Swede. Then in 1874 Enrico Cecchetti, the last great exponent of the Italian School, arrived in Russia. These three men working on generations of Russian dancers developed Russian ballet, making it as much a system as Italian or French ballet. Actually the French method is in the greatest proportion in the Russian School.


The art of using the face and body to express emotion and dramatic action

Neuf [nuhf]


There is no universally accepted system of recording the choreography of ballets although many systems of dance notation have been devised by dancers and choreographers. At present, there are two systems of notation in general use, Labanotation and Benesh notation.

Ouvert [oo-VEHR]
Open, opened. This may refer to positions (the second and fourth positions of the feet are positions ouvertes), limbs, directions, or certain exercises or steps. In the French School the term is used to indicate a position or direction of the body similar to effacé.

Bent, bending. A bending of the knee or knees. This is an exercise to render the joints and muscles soft and pliable and the tendons flexible and elastic, and to develop a sense of balance.

Pas Jeté
[pah zhuh-TAY]
Throwing step. Is brushed into the air and appears to have been thrown.

Petit Battement sur le cou-de-pied
[puh-TEE bat-MAHN sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY]
Small battement on the ankle. This is an exercise at the bar in which the working foot is held sur le cou-de-pied and the lower part of the leg moves out and in

Leaning, inclining. As, for example, in arabesque penchée.

Whirl or spin. A complete turn of the body on one foot, on point or demi-pointe. Pirouettes are performed en dedans, turning inward toward the supporting leg, or en dehors, turning outward in the direction of the raised leg.

Piqué [pee-KAY]
Pricked, pricking.

Pirouette piquée
[peer-WET pee-KAY]
Pricked pirouette. This is a pirouette in which the dancer steps directly onto the point or demi-pointe with any given position. This turn is executed either en dedans or en dehors.

Petit jeté
[puh-TEE zhuh-TAY]
Small jeté. From a demi-plié in the fifth position the working foot glides along the floor until it reaches a position à la demi-hauteur. The supporting foot springs from the floor and the landing is made in fondu on the working leg with the other foot extended in the air or sur le cou-de-pied.

Pas de bourrée
[pah duh boo-RAY]
Bourrée step.

Pas de bourrée couru
[pah duh boo-RAY koo-REW]
Pas de bourrée, running.

Pas de chat
[pah duh shah]
Cat’s-step. The step owes its name to the likeness of the movement to a cat's leap.

Pas ballonné [pah ba-law-NAY]
Ball-like or bouncing step. A step in which the dancer springs into the air extending one leg to the front, side or back and lands with the extended leg either sur le cou-de-pied or retiré.

Porté [pawr-TAY]
Carried. Refers either to a step which is traveled in the air from one spot to another (such as assemblé dessus porté) or to the carrying of a danseuse by a danseur.


A processional dance in 3/4 time with which the court ballets of the seventeenth century were opened. It may be seen today in such ballets as The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. The polonaise is a march in which two steps are taken forward on the demi-pointes and then the third step is taken flat with the supporting knee bent in fondu and the other leg raised in front.

Première [pruh-MYAY]

Quatre [KA-truh]


Quatre [KA-truh]


Sauté [soh-TAY]
Jumped, jumping. In all jumping movements the tips of the toes should be the first to reach the ground after the jump, then the sole of the foot followed by the heel. In rising from the ground the foot moves in the reverse order.

Saut de basque
[soh duh bask]
Basque jump. A traveling step in which the dancer turns in the air with one foot drawn up to the knee of the other leg.

Second position
(Seconde position):
The feet are on the same line but with a distance of about one foot between the heels.


This term is used for a fault in which the dancer turns his or her foot in from the ankle, thereby breaking the straight line of the leg.

Sissonne is named for the originator of the step. It is a jump from both feet onto one foot with the exception of sissonne fermée, sissonne tombée and sissonne fondue, which finish on two feet. Sissonne may be performed petite or grande.

Sissonne fermée
[see-SAWN fehr-MAY]
Closed sissonne. A step of low elevation performed to a quick tempo. This sissonne finishes on two feet with the working foot gliding along the floor into the demi-plié in the fitth position. It may be performed en avant, en arrière and de côté in all directions, such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc.


Sur les demi-pointes
[sewr lay duh-mee-PWENT]
On the half-points. Indicates that the dancer is to stand high on the balls of the feet and under part of the toes. Also used in the singular, "sur la demi-pointe”.

Sur les pointes
[sewr lay pwent]
On the points. The raising of the body on the tips of the toes. Also used in the singular, "sur la pointe." First introduced in the late 1820s or early 1830s at the time of Taglioni. There are three ways of reaching the points, by piqué, relevé or sauté.

Supporting leg

A term used by dancers and teachers for the leg, which supports the body so that the working leg is free to execute a given movement Temps lié sur les pointes
[tahn Iyay sewr lay pwent]
Connected movement on the points.

The Gateway
(first position)
This is a position of the arms in which the arms are held rounded in front of the body with the fingertips on a level with the bottom of the breastbone. The backs of the hands face outward with the arms rounded so that the elbows are a little below the shoulders and the wrists a little below the elbows with the point of the elbows imperceptible. This position corresponds to the fifth position en avant of the Cecchetti method and the first position of the Russian and French Schools. When the arms are raised from a low position to a high one, the arms generally pass through the gateway.

Third position
(Troisième position):
In the third position one foot is in front of the other, heels touching the middle of the other foot.

Tour de force
[toor duh fawrss]
An arresting, vital step; a feat of technical skill such as a series of brilliant pirouettes or a combination of outstanding jumps and beats.

Tour de promenade
[toor duh prawm-NAD]
Turn in a walk. A term used to indicate that the dancer turns slowly in place on one foot by a series of slight movements of the heel to the required side while maintaining a definite pose such as an arabesque or attitude.

Tour en l'air
[toor ahn lehr]
Turn in the air. This is essentially a male dancer's step. Is a turn in the air in which the dancer rises straight into the air from a demi-plié, makes a complete turn and lands in the fifth position with the feet reversed.

Three. As, for example, in entrechat trois.

Third. As, for example, in troisième arabesque.

Un One.

Variation [va-rya-SYAWN]
Variation. A solo dance in a classic ballet.
A performer with great technical ability. |

Working leg
A term used by dancers and teachers to denote the leg that is executing a given movement while the weight of the body is on the supporting leg.

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