5 Ballet Foot positions: (Feet Only)
Technique for the Ballet foot positions:
Hi. My name is Sarah Shoemaker and today we’re going to talk about the five basic positions in ballet technique. The materials that you need for this are very basic, really just a space and if you’re practicing at a beginner level you want to have a ballet barre. In ballet there are five basic positions of the feet.
And the one thing they all have in common is that they are all held in a rotated position from the hip socket. The way that we usually say this in ballet is that you’re “turned out,” but essentially you’re turned out from the hip socket. That’s really important to note because everyone has a different degree of rotation in their hips. And if you have a lot of rotation, you can stand in a perfect 180-degree turn out, but most people are not going to have that much turn out. So you want to make sure that when you do these positions that you’re not twisting from your knee or your ankle and causing problems that could cause injury down the road.
I am demonstrating today and my turnout is actually not wonderful. So I’m going to show you sort of a safe place that you would turn out from. So the very first position is called “first position,” and you stand with your heels together and your toes pointed outward. So once again, the rotation that I’m using is coming from my hip socket, and you have a proper body alignment along with this position of the feet. It wouldn’t do any good to practice the position of the feet you know with bent knees or bad posture. So you want to hold yourself properly. Your tailbone is dropped down, tummy is tight, shoulders are down, long neck, legs are tight, and the position of the feet are with the heels together and the toes pointed outward.
I do want to point out that some people have hyperextended legs. Hyperextended essentially means that your knees will bend backward more then just straight up and down. So for example, I have very hyperextended legs and I could technically put my knees together and you can see how far apart my heels are. I could probably even do more, but that’s not a good idea because this is only a weak position.
So you want to get your heels as close together as you can, ideally touching, and then you squeeze your legs straight from there. That’s going to build strength and give you a very strong sense of center.
Second position is about a foot and a half apart from first position. Now when I say a foot and a half, I’m really talking about your foot. So you don’t need to measure it every time you go to second position. You don’t need to check how many feet you’re doing. But typically what you would do to arrive in second position would be what’s called a tendu and then lower the heel. And now I’m standing in a second position. It’s about the same as first, although your feet are just wider apart. Again everything is upright and held.
Third position is going from a tendu and closing, so that the heel of your front foot is in the arch of your back foot. You can see one leg is slightly crossed in front of the other. This position is not commonly used in ballet once you get to a certain level. At the advanced levels you’re almost never going to see third position. But you do use it when you’re training young dancers and sometimes you’ll see it in a character part or some kind of folk dance or something like that. But in an advanced ballet class, you’re not going to use third position.
In fourth position, you will extend the front leg, one foot in front of the other foot, again across. Okay? Now you can cross it so that it’s directly in front of the other foot but again, depending on your level, you’re going to want to have a slight adjustment so that you can hold yourself strong and centered.
The fifth position in ballet is very much like third, although instead of having your heel in the front of your arch, your heel will actually be all the way over, across in front of your toes of the back foot so it’s crossed fully. Ideally your feet are really, truly one in front of the other, both turned out from the hip socket and held very, very strong and straight in the center. This is going to be used very frequently in an advanced ballet class. Most of your jumps and turns and travelling steps are going to come out of a fifth position and arrive back in fifth position.