[French: a-DAHZH] Adage is a French word derived from the
Italian ad agio, meaning at ease or leisure. English ballet
teachers use "adage," the French adaptation, while Americans
prefer the original Italian. 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. The principal steps of adagio are pliés,
développés, grand fouetté en tournant, dégagés, grand rond
de jambe, rond de jambe en l'air, coupés, battements tendus,
attitudes, arabesques, preparations for pirouettes and all
types of pirouettes. (2) The opening section of the
classical pas de deux, in which the ballerina assisted by
her male partner, performs the slow movements and
enlèvements in which the danseur lifts, supports or carries
the danseuse. The danseuse thus supported exhibits her
grace, line and perfect balance while executing développés,
pirouettes, arabesques and so on, and achieves combinations
of steps and poses which would be impossible without the aid
of her partner.
Air, en l' [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.
[a-lay-GROH; Italian: al-LAY-groh] 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 majority of
dances, both solo and group, are built on allegro. The most
important qualities to aim at in allégro are lightness,
smoothness and ballon.
[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.
[ah na-RYEHR] Backward. Used to indicate that a step is
executed moving away from the audience. As, for example, in
glissade en arrière.
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. If an assemblé is porté it requires a preparatory
step such as a glissade to precede it. If an assemblé is en
tournant it must be preceded by a preparatory step.
Assemblés are done petit or grand according to the height of
the battement and are executed dessus, dessous, devant,
derrière, en avant, en arrière and en tournant. They may be
done en face, croisé, effacé or écarté. Assemblé may also be
done with a beat for greater brilliance. In the Cecchetti
assemblé both knees are bent and drawn up after the
battement so that the flat of the toes of both feet meet
while the body is in the air.
Assemblé en tournant,
grand [grahn ta-sahn-BLAY ahn toor-NAHN] Big
assemblé, turning. This assemblé is done in the same manner
as grand assemblé. It is taken only dessus or derrière. It
is traveled directly to the side, on a diagonal traveling
upstage, in a circle, etc. It is usually preceded by a pas
couru or a chassé. The battement at 90 degrees to the second
position is taken facing upstage, then the dancer completes
the turn en dedans and finishes the assemblé facing the
[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.
[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
Rocking step. This step is very much like a pas de valse and
is an alternation of balance, shifting the weight from one
foot to the other. Balancé may be done crossing the foot
either front or back. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié,
dégagé the R foot to the second position and jump on it
lightly in demi-plié, crossing the L foot behind the R ankle
and inclining the head and body to the right. Step on the L
demi-pointe behind the R foot, slightly lifting the R foot
off the ground; then fall on the R foot again in demi-plié
with the L foot raised sur le cou-de-pied derrière. The next
balancé will be to the left side. Balancé may also be done
en avant or en arrière facing croisé or effacé and en
(Italian)] A principal female dancer in a ballet company. In
the days of the Russian Imperial Theatres the title was
given to the outstanding soloists who danced the chief
classical roles. At the Maryinski Theatre in St. Petersburg
the ballet company consisted of ballerinas, premiers
danseurs, first and second soloists, coryphees and corps de
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.
A ballet fan or enthusiast. The word was invented in Russia
in the early nineteenth century.
male partner of the ballerina
choregrapher This is the term applied to one who
composes or invents ballets or dances.
Corps de ballet
[kawr duh ba-LAY] The dancers in a ballet who do not appear
performer with great technical ability.
[ba-LAWN] Bounce. Ballon is the light, elastic quality in
jumping in which the dancer bounds up from the floor, pauses
a moment in the air and descends lightly and softly, only to
rebound in the air like the smooth bouncing of a ball.
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 exercises at the
bar. See Exercices à la barre.
[bat-MAHN] Beating. A beating action of the extended or bent
leg. There are two types of battements, grands battements
and petits battements. The petis battements are: Battements
tendus, dégagés, frappés and tendus relevés: stretched,
disengaged, struck and stretched-and- lifted .
[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 the first or
fifth position. Battements dégagés strengthen the toes,
develop the instep and improve the flexibility of the ankle
joint. Same as battement tendu jeté (Russian School),
battement glissé (French School).
développé [bat-MAHN fawn-DEW dayv-law-PAY]
Battement, sinking down, developed. This is an exercise in
which the supporting leg is slowly bent in fondu with the
working foot pointing on the ankle. As the supporting leg is
straightened, the working leg unfolds and is extended to
point on the floor or in the air. The movement is done
devant, derrière and à la seconde. In fondu forward, the
conditional position sur le cou-de-pied devant is used. In
fondu back, the basic position sur le cou-de-pied derrière
[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. It is the basis of the allegro step, the jeté.
Battement sur le cou-de-pied,
petit [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, changing the foot
from sur le cou-de-pied devant to sur le cou-de-pied
derrière and vice versa. Petits battements are executed with
the supporting foot à terre, sur la demi-pointe or sur la
[bat-MAHN tahn-DEW] Battement stretched. A battement tendu
is the commencing portion and ending portion of a grand
battement and is an exercise to force the insteps well
outward. The working foot slides from the first or fifth
position to the second or fourth position without lifting
the toe from the ground. Both knees must be kept straight.
When the foot reaches the position pointe tendue, it then
returns to the first or fifth position. Battements tendus
may also be done with a demi-plié in the first or fifth
position. They should be practiced en croix.
[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.
[ba-TEW] Beaten. Any step embellished with a beat is called
a pas battu. As, for example, in jeté battu.
[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.
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.
[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.
[ka-bree-AWL] Caper. 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.
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, 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
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.
Changement de pieds
[shahnzh-MAHN duh pyay] Change of feet. The term is usually
abbreviated to changement. Changements are springing steps
in the fifth position, the dancer changing feet in the air
and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot
in the front. They are done petit and grand.
[sha-SAY] Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases
the other foot out of its position; done in a series.
Five. As, for example, in entrechat cinq.
Coda (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
[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.
Cou-de-pied, sur le
[sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY] On the "Neck" of the foot. The
working foot is placed on the part of the leg between the
base of the calf and the beginning of the ankle.
Coupé jeté en
tournant [koo-PAY zhuh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN] A
compound step consisting of a coupé dessous making a
three-quarter turn and a grand jeté en avant to complete the
turn. The step is usually done in a series either en manège
or en diagonale.
[koo-REW] Running. As, for example, in pas de bourrée couru.
[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 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.
[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.
Dehors, en [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
[duh-MEE-plee-AY] Half-bend of the knees. All steps of
elevation begin and end with a demi-plié. See Plié.
Demi-pointes, sur les
[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
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.
[duh-SOO] Under. Indicates that the working foot passes
behind the supporting foot. As, for example, in pas de
[duh-SEW] Over. Indicates that the working foot passes in
front of the supporting foot. As, for example, in pas de
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.
[tahn dayv-law-PAY] Time developed, developing movement.
Through common usage the term has become abridged to
développé. A développé is a movement in which the working
leg is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg and slowly
extended to an open position en l'air and held there with
perfect control. The hips are kept level and square to the
direction in which the dancer is facing.
[ahn dya-gaw-NAL] In a diagonal. Indicates that a step is to
be done traveling in a diagonal direction.
[dee-vehr-tees-MAHNLAY] 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.
[DOO-bluh] Double. As, for example, in pirouette double (a
[ay-har-TAY] 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.
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.
[eh-fa-SAY] 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.
[ay-lay-va-SYAWN] Élévation is the ability of a dancer to
attain height in dancing. It is a term used to describe the
height attained in springing steps such as entrechats,
grands jetés and so on, combined with ballon so that the
dancer jumps with a graceful elasticity like the bouncing
movement of a rubber ball which touches the ground a moment
and then rebounds into the air. The elevation is reckoned by
the distance between the pointed toes of the dancer in the
air and the ground. In alighting after a pas d'élévation the
tips of the toes should reach the ground first, quickly
followed by the sole and then the heel. All steps of'
elevation begin and end with a demi-plié.
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.
[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.
[ay-pohl-MAHN]] Shouldering. The placing of the shoulders.
Aterm 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
[eks-tahn-SYAWN] Term used to describe the ability of a
dancer to raise and hold her extended leg en l'air. A dancer
is said to have a good extension if,when doing a développé à
la seconde, she is able to hold and sustain the raised leg
above shoulder level.
[ahn fahss] Opposite (the audience); facing the audience.
This is a term used in double (supported) work for various
lifts in which the danseuse is supported by the danseur in a
poisson position. He may hold her above his head in a
horizontal fish dive or she may fall from a sitting position
on his shoulder and be caught in a fish dive, and so on.
[fawn-DEW] Sinking down. A term used to describe a lowering
of the body made by bending the knee of the supporting leg.
Saint-Léon wrote, "Fondu is on one leg what a plié is on
two." In some instances the term fondu is also used to
describe the ending of a step when the working leg is placed
on the ground with a soft and gradual movement.
[fweh-TAY] Whipped. A term applied to a whipping movement.
The movement may be a short whipped movement of the raised
foot as it passes rapidly in front of or behind the
supporting foot or the sharp whipping around of the body
from one direction to another. There is a great variety of
fouettés: petit fouetté, which may be devant, à la seconde
or derrière and executed à terre, sur la demi-pointe or
sauté; and grand fouetté, which may be sauté, relevé and en
Fouetté en tournant,
grand (Russian School) [grahn fweh-TAY ahn
toor-NAHN] Large fouetté, turning. This fouetté may be done
on demi-pointe, on point or with a jump. It is usually done
en dedans and may be finished in attitude croisée, attitude
effacée or any of the arabesques.
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. They may be executed
en dehors or en dedans. En dehors (Russian School): Fourth
position R foot back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L
leg. Fondu on the L leg, at the same time opening the R leg
to the second position en l'air. Relevé on the L point or
demi-pointe, executing a tour en dehors and whipping the R
foot in back of, then quickly in front of, the L knee. Fondu
on the L leg, opening the R leg to the second position en
l'air. En dehors (Cecchetti method): Fourth position R foot
back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L leg. Fondu on
the L leg, at the same time extending the R leg to quatrième
position devant en l'air (croisé devant). Relevé on the L
point or demi-pointe, sweeping the R leg to the second
position en l'air, and execute a tour en dehors, bringing
the R foot to side and front of L knee. Fondu on the L foot,
extending the R leg forward again. Three-quarters of the
turn should be made with the R foot in position on the
supporting knee. This fouetté may also be executed from a
preparation starting with a pas de bourrée en dedans and
finishing with a coupé dessous, opening the working leg to
quatrième devant croisé. En dedans (Russian School): Fouetté
en dedans is done in the same manner as en dehors. After a
pirouette en dedans the extension is made to the second
position en l'air; next the foot is brought in front of,
then in back of, the supporting knee. En dedans (Cecchetti
method): After a pirouette en dedans the working leg is
extended to the fourth position derrière en l'air; then with
a demi-rond de jambe en l'air en dedans the foot is brought
to the front of the supporting knee.
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
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.
See Port de bras.
[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.
When a glissade is used as an auxiliary step for small or
big jumps, it is done with a quick movement on the upbeat.
Glissades are done with or without change of feet, and all
begin and end with a demi-plié. There are six glissades:
devant, derrière, dessous, dessus, en avant, en arrière, the
difference between them depending on the starting and
finishing positions as well as the direction. Glissade may
also be done sur les pointes.
[grahn, grahnd] Big, large. As, for example; in grand
battement. (To find terms starting with "grand," look up the
second word of the term.)
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.
Jeté, pas [pah
zhuh-TAY] Throwing step. A jump from one foot to the other
in which the working leg is brushed into the air and appears
to have been thrown. There is a wide variety of pas jetés
(usually called merely jetés) and they may be performed in
Jeté battu [zhuh-TAY
ba-TEW] Jeté beaten. Both jeté dessus and jeté dessous may
[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."
[grahn zhuh-TAV] Large jeté. In this step the legs are
thrown to 90 degrees with a corresponding high jump. It is
done forward to attitude croisée or effacée, and to all the
arabesques. It may also be done backward with the leg raised
either croisé or effacé devant. Grand jeté is always
preceded by a preliminary movement such as a glissade, pas
couru or coupe.
Jeté en avant, grand
[grahn zhuh-TAY ah na-VAHN] Large jeté forward. A big leap
forward preceded by a preliminary movement such as a pas
couru or a glissade, which gives the necessary push-off. 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. It is important to start the
jump with a springy plié and finish it with a soft and
[puh-TEE zhuh-TAY] Christopher Martin demonstrating petit
jeté. (331k) 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. Petit jeté is done dessus, dessous, en
avant, en arrière and en tournant.
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).
[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. See these terms.
Line. The outline presented by a dancer while executing
steps and poses. A dancer is said to have a good or bad
sense of line according to the arrangement of head, body,
legs and arms in a pose or movement. A good line is
absolutely indispensable to the classlcal dancer.
Circular. A term applied to steps or enchaînements executed
in a circle.
Mazurka or mazurek
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.
Mime The art
of using the face and body to express emotion and dramatic
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.
[oo-VEHR, oo-VEHRT] 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.
Step. A simple step or a compound movement which involves a
transfer of weight. Example: pas de bourrée. "Pas" also
refers to a dance executed by a soloist (pas seul), a duet
(pas de deux). and so on.
Pas de bourrée
[pah duh boo-RAY] Bourrée step. Pas de bourrée is done
dessous, dessus, devant, derrière, en avant, en arrière and
en tournant, en dedans and en dehors, on the point or
Pas de bourrée couru
[pah duh boo-RAY koo-REW] Pas de bourrée, running. A term of
the French School. This is a progression on the points or
demi-pointes by a series of small, even steps with the feet
close together. It may be done in all directions or in a
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 de deux, grand
[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.
Pas de quatre
[pah duh KA-truh] A dance for four. The most famous pas de
quatre in ballet history took place in London on July 12,
1845, at a command performance for Queen Victoria, when the
four greatest ballerinas of the nineteenth century, Marie
Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Lucile Grahn,
Pas de trois
[pah duh trwah] A dance for three. Similarly, a pas de cinq
is a dance for five people; a pas de six is a dance for six
Pas de valse
[pah duh valss] Waltz step. Done with a graceful swaying of
the body with various arm movements. May be done facing or
en tournant. The step is like a balancé, but the feet do not
[pah mar-SHAY] Marching step. This is the dignified,
classical walk of the ballerina and the premier danseur.
[pahn-SHAY] Leaning, inclining. As, for example, in
[puh-TEE, puh-TEET] Little, small. As, for example, in petit
battement. (To find terms starting with "petit," look up the
second word of the term.)
Pieds, cinq positions
des [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.
First position (Première position): In this position the
feet form one line, heels touching one another. Second
position (Seconde position): The feet are on the same line
but with a distance of about one foot between the heels.
Third position (Troisième position): In the third position
one foot is in front of the other, heels touching the middle
of the other foot. 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 length 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
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.
[pee-KAY] Pricked, pricking. Executed by stepping directly
on the point or demi-pointe of the working foot in any
desired direction or position with the other foot raised in
the air. As, for example, in piqué en arabesque, piqué
développé and so on.
[peer-WET] 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.
Correct body placement is essential in all kinds of
pirouettes. The body must be well centered over the
supporting leg with the back held strongly and the hips and
shoulders aligned. The force of momentum is furnished by the
arms, which remain immobile during the turn. The head is the
last to move as the body turns away from the spectator and
the first to arrive as the body comes around to the
spectator, with the eyes focused at a definite point which
must be at eye level. This use of the eyes while turning is
called "spotting." Pirouettes may be performed in any given
position, such as sur le cou-de-pied, en attitude, en
arabesque, à la seconde, etc.
Pirouette à la
seconde, grande [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.
[peer-WET pee-KAY] Pricked pirouette. A term of the French
School. Same as piqué tour en dedans. This is a pirouette in
which the dancer steps directly onto the point or
demi-pointe with the raised leg sur le cou-de-pied devant or
derrière, in attitude, arabesque or any given position. This
turn is executed either en dedans or en dehors.
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. There are two principal pliés: grand plié or
full bending of the knees (the knees should be bent until
the thighs are horizontal) and demi-plié or half-bending of
the knees. Pliés are done at the bar and in the centre in
all five positions of the feet. The third position is
usually omitted. When a grand plié is executed in either the
first, third or fourth position croisé (feet in the fifth
position but separated by the space of one foot) or the
fifth position, the heels always rise off the ground and are
lowered again as the knees straighten. The bending movement
should be gradual and free from jerks, and the knees should
be at least half-bent before the heels are allowed to rise.
The body should rise at the same speed at which it
descended, pressing the heels into the floor. In the grand
plié in the second position or the fourth position ouverte
(feet in the first position but separated by the space of
one foot) the heels do not rise off the ground. All
demi-pliés are done without lifting the heels from the
ground. In all pliés the legs must be well turned out from
the hips, the knees open and well over the toes, and the
weight of the body evenly distributed on both feet, with the
whole foot grasping the floor.
Pointes, sur les
[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.
Pointe shoes The satin ballet shoes used by dancers when
dancing sur les pointes. The ballet shoes of Marie Taglioni,
the first major ballerina to dance on her points, were not
blocked but were padded with cotton wool. Later (about 1862)
the toes of the ballet slippers were stiffened (blocked)
with glue and darned to give the dancer additional support.
Today the toes of pointe shoes are reinforced with a box
constructed of several layers of strong glue in between
layers of material.
Fish. A position of the body in which the legs are crossed
in the fifth position and held tightly together with the
back arched. This pose is taken while jumping into the air
or in double work when the danseuse is supported in a
poisson position by her partner. See Fish dive.
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
Port de bras
[pawr duh brah] Carriage of the arms. The term port de bras
has two meanings: (1) A movement or series of movements made
by passing the arm or arms through various positions. The
passage of the arms from one position to another constitutes
a port de bras. (2) A term for a group of exercises designed
to make the arms move gracefully and harmoniously. In the
Cecchetti method there are eight set exercises on port de
bras. In the execution of port de bras the arms should move
from the shoulder and not from the elbow and the movement
should be smooth and flowing. The arms should be softly
rounded so that the points of the elbows are imperceptible
and the hands must be simple, graceful and never flowery.
The body and head should come into play and a suggestion of
épaulement should be used. In raising the arms from one
position to another the arms must pass through a position
known in dancing as the gateway. This position corresponds
to the fifth position en avant, Cecchetti method, or the
first position, French and Russian Schools. In passing from
a high position to a low one, the arms are generally lowered
in a line with the sides. Exercises on port de bras can be
varied to infinity by combining their basic elements
according to the taste of the professor and the needs of the
[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
[pruh-MYAY, pruh-MYEHR] First.
Promenade, tour de
[toor duh prawm-NAD] Turn in a walk. A term of the French
School 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. The turn may be performed
either en dedans or en dehors. In a pas de deux, the
ballerina on point holds her pose and is slowly turned by
her partner who walks around her holding her hand.
Raised. A raising of the body on the points or demi-pointes,
point or demi-pointe. There are two ways to relevé. In the
French School, relevé is done with a smooth, continuous rise
while the Cecchetti method and the Russian School use a
little spring. Relevé may be done in the first, second,
fourth or fifth position, en attitude, en arabesque, devant,
derrière, en tournant, passé en avant, passé en arrière and
[ruh-tee-RAY] Withdrawn. A position in which the thigh is
raised to the second position en l'air with the knee bent so
that the pointed toe rests in front of, behind or to the
side of the supporting knee.
Rise This is
a smooth relevé from a position à terre through all the
levels of the foot (quarter-point, half-point and
three-quarter point). The toes do not move from the spot at
which the rise began.
Dancers who do not have a good turn-out should not force
their legs to turn out too much at first, as this usually
results in rolling ankles. If the weight is on the inside of
the feet. dancers call this rolling in; if the weight is on
the outside of the feet, it is called rolling out. The toes
and heels should be flat on the floor and the turn-out must
come from the hip joints.
A style of ballet produced during the early nineteenth
century in which the accent was on the conveyance of a mood
to a story. Example of romantic ballets are La Sylphide and
Ront de jambe
[rawn duh zhahnb] Round of the leg, that is, a circular
movement of the leg. Ronds de jambe are used as an exercise
at the bar, in the centre and in the adage, and are done à
terre or en l'air. When used as a step, ronds de jambe are
done en l'air and may be sauté or relevé. All are done
clockwise (en dehors) and counterclockwise (en dedans).
Rond de jambe à terre
[rawn duh zhahnb a tehr] Rond de jambe on the ground. An
exercise at the bar or in the centre in which one leg is
made to describe a series of circular movements on the
ground. Both legs must be kept perfectly straight and all
movement must come from the hip, along with the arching and
relaxing of the instep. The toe of the working foot does not
rise off the ground and does not pass beyond the fourth
position front (fourth position ouvert) or the fourth
position back. This is an exercise to turn the legs out from
the hips, to loosen the hips and to keep the toe well back
and heel forward. There are two kinds of ronds de jambe à
terre: those done en dedans (inward) and those done en
Rond de jambe en
l'air [rawn duh zhahnb ahn lehr] Rond de jambe in
the air. Ronds de jambe en l'air are done at the bar and in
centre practice and may be single, or double, en dehors or
en dedans. The toe of the working foot describes an oval,
the extreme ends of which are the second position en l'air
and the supporting leg. The thigh must be kept motionless
and the hips well turned out, the whole movement being made
by the leg below the knee. The thigh should also be held
horizontal so that the pointed toe of the working foot
passes at (approximately) the height of the supporting knee.
Ronds de jambe en l'air may also be done with the leg
extended to the second position en l'air (demi-position) and
closed to the calf of the supporting leg. The accent of the
movement comes when the foot is in the second position en
l'air. The movement is done en dehors and en dedans.
[ruah-YAL] Royal. A changement in which the calves are
beaten together before the feet change position. Also termed
The Russian School was founded in St. Petersburg in 1738 by
the French dancerJean-Baptiste Landé. The French influence
continued under such great teachers as Charles Le Picq,
Charles Didelot, Christian Johanssen, Jules Perrot, Arthur
Saint-Léon and Marius Petipa. In 1885 Virginia Zucchi, a
famous Italian ballerina, appeared in St. Petersburg and
created a sensation with her forceful and brilliant Italian
technique which differed from the soft, graceful elegance of
the French technique prevalent in Russia until then. Other
Italian dancers such as Enrico Cecchetti arrived in Russia
and continued to astound the Russians with their amazing
dexterity, brilliant pirouettes, tours and fouettés. The
Russian dancers rapidly absorbed everything the Italians had
to teach and incorporated it into the Russian system. Thus,
the Russian School of Ballet is a development of the French
and Italian Schools. During the 1 920s the Russian ballerina
and teacher Agrippina Vaganova developed a planned
instructional system which later became known to the whole
world as the Vaganova system. This svstem has become the
basic method of the entire Soviet choreographic school.
Saut de basque
[soh duh bask] (French and Russian Schools). 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. Fifth position R
foot front. Demi-plié with R foot retiré devant; step on the
R foot in demi-plié to the second position, turning en
dedans one half-turn and thrusting the L leg to the second
position en l'air; push off the floor with the R foot and
complete the turn, traveling to the side of the extended leg
and landing on the L foot in fondu with the R leg bent in
retiré devant. Both legs should be fully turned out during
the jump. Saut de basque may also be performed with a double
turn in the air.
[soh-TAY] Jumped, jumping. When this term is added to the
name of a step, the movement is performed while jumping. As,
for example, échappé sauté. Note: 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
Seconde, à la
[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.
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.
[see-SAWN] 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. The petites sissonnes are sissonne simple,
sissonne fermée, sissonne ouverte at 45 degrees and sissonne
tombée at 45 degrees. The grandes sissonnes are sissonne
ouverte at 90 degrees, sissonne renversée and sissonne
[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.
grande [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 and is done with a
développé or a grand battement at 90 degrees.
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.
Terre, à [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.
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 en l'air
[toor ahn lehr] Turn in the air. This is essentially a male
dancer's step although contemporary choreographers use this
tour for girls. lt 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. The turn may be single, double or triple according
to the ability of the dancer. The arms assist and the head
must spot as in pirouettes. Tour en l'air may also be
finished in various poses such as attitude, arabesque,
grande seconde or on one knee. It may also be done in a
*see Jete entrelace
[ahn toor-NAHN] Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn
while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé
Three. As, for example, in entrechat trois.
Third. As, for example, in troisième arabesque.
This is the ability of the dancer to turn his or her feet
and legs out from the hip joints to a 90-degree position.
This turn-out, or en-dehors, is one of the essential
principles of the classical dance, giving the dancer freedom
of movement in every direction.
This is the short classical ballet skirt made of many layers
of tarlatan or net. The romantic tutu is the long skirt
reaching below the calf.
[ah-gree-PEE-nah vah-GAH-naw-vah] The greatest Russian
teacher of her day (1879-1951). She was a graduate of the
St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, where she studied
under Ivanov, Vazem, Gerdt, Legat and others. She was
accepted into the corps de ballet of the Maryinski Theatre
in 1897 and became a ballerina in 1915. She left the stage
in 1917 to devote herself to teaching. In 1921 she became a
teacher at the Leningrad State Ballet School (formerly the
Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg) and began developing
the instructional system that later became known to the
world as the Vaganova system. In 1934 she became head of the
Leningrad Choreographic Technicum and published her textbook
Fundamentals of the Classic Dance Vaganova's method has
become the basic method of the entire Soviet choreographic
school. This method is still being developed by Vaganova's
Variation. A solo dance in a classic ballet.
performer with great technical ability.
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.