Below you will find all of the ballet terms.
New! Ballet dancing Videos:
5 Ballet Foot Positions (2 Videos)
Ballet Terminology is very important to learn for anyone starting with this form of dance. The better you know your basics, the better your dancing will become.
More Ballet dance videos will be added but for now check out the text A to Z ballet terms below:
Adage, Adagio [French: a-DAHZH]
Adage means “slow, sustained” movement and has two meanings in Ballet:
1st meaning: A series of movements following the centre practice, consisting of slow and graceful movements which may be simple or complex, performed with as much fluidity and ease as possible. This helps the dancer build strength and control as the movements are slow. The steps may include attitude, arabesque, développé, grande rond de jambe, and plié, and others.
2nd meaning: The opening section of the classical pas de deux, in which the ballerina is partnered by a male partner. Together they perform slow movements in which the male partner lifts, supports or carries the lady. The lady dancer will usually perform développés, pirouettes, arabesques and more.
Air, en l’ [ahn lehr] In the air
In the air means that a movement will be made in the air. For example, rond de jambe en l’air. And that the working leg will be raised to a horizontal position with the toe on the level of the hip.
Allégro [a-lay-GROH; Italian: al-LAY-groh]
In Ballet terms, Allegro means fast, lively movements and jumps. All steps of elevation such as the sautés, jetés, entrechat, cabriole, assemblé and others are under this classification. The dancers must show smooth and light movements to make it look right.
Arabesque is one of the most popular basic poses in ballet. It is a position supported on one leg, which can be straight or in demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various positions creating the longest possible lines from the fingertips outward. It can be found in almost every classical and modern Ballet today.
Arrière, en [ah na-RYEHR]
Means to go backward. Used to indicate that a step is executed moving away from the audience.
Simply put it means when two legs are joined together in the air. It is when the dancer shoots one leg up into the air and then jumps the second leg to join the two legs together in the air. Usually the dancer will land in fifth position of plie after the jump.
It is a standing position on one leg with the other leg lifted in the front or the back with 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.
Avant, en [ah na-VAHN]
Avant means to the front or Forward. A direction for the execution of a step. Used to indicate that a given step is executed moving forward, toward the audience.
It is a step that rocks or swings from foot to foot. The dancer will alternate their weight from foot to foot in this movement.
Ballerina [bahl-lay-REE-rlah (Italian)]
It used to mean the 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. Nowdays this term simply means a female ballet dancer. The leading female dancer will usually be referred to as “principal dancer” these days.
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. They are part of “staff” and work together with dancers and with directors.
A ballet fan. The word was invented in Russia in the early nineteenth century. Someone who adores Ballet.
Ballon means “to bounce”. The dancer must demonstrate a jump with ease and lightness. After the jump, the dancer would pause mid air for a moment and then softly descend with ease.
The horizontal wooden bar attached to the walls of the ballet classroom which the dancer holds for support. Every ballet class begins with exercises at the bar.
Means “beating”. There are two types of battements, grands battements and petits battements. It is when a dancer extends his/her leg to the front, back or side.
Battement dégagé [bat-MAHN day-ga-ZHAY]
Means disengaged battement. A term from the Cecchetti method. The battement dégagé is like 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.
Battement fondu développé [bat-MAHN fawn-DEW]
It means “battement sinking down”. During a battement fondu, a dancer’s standing leg is slowly bent in fondu with the working foot pointing on the ankle. As the dancer’s standing leg straightens, the working leg also extends to a straight position in the air or with the toes on the floor.
Battement développé [bat-MAHN dayv-law-PAY]
“Battement developed”. It is when the dancer developes their leg to the front, back or side from fifth position.
Battement frappé [bat-MAHN fra-PAY]
A movement in which the dancer quickly extends the working leg from a cou-de-pied position to the front, side or back. This exercise strengthens the toes and thighs and develops the power of elevation.
Battement petit [puh-TEE bat-MAHN]
Small battement on the ankle. An exercise where one leg is extended and moved forward and backward from the ankle of the standing/supporting leg.
Battement tendu [bat-MAHN tahn-DEW]
Means “Battement stretched”. It is where one leg is extended until the point of the stretched foot barely touches 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. They can be done in demi-plié in the first or fifth position.
Battement, grand [grahn bat-MAHN]
Means “Large battement”. A movement in which the leg is lifted to hip level or higher and held straight. This must be done with ease to give the feeling of effortlessness. The function of grands battements is to loosen the hip joints and turn out the legs from the hips.
means “Beaten”. When a step requires the striking of the legs together. As, for example, in jeté battu.
Bras bas [brah bah]
Means “low” or “down”. Indicates to the dancer to lower their arms down. This is the dancer’s resting position or beginning position.
Means “Broken, breaking”. It is a jump and the working leg brushes to the second position and meets the other leg in front of or behind in the air. Finally both feet land in fifth position. This is similar to an assemblé but with traveling.
Brisé volé [bree-ZAY vaw-LAY]
Means “Flying brisé”. In this brisé the dancer finishes on one foot after the beat, the other leg crossed either front or back.
The male partner of the female ballerina.
This is the term applied to the person who composes or invents ballets or dances.
Corps de ballet [kawr duh ba-LAY]
This Ballet term refers to those ballet dancers who dance as a group (not as soloists).
A jump. The working leg swings into the air as the supporting leg pushes off the ground and beats against the first leg. Finally the dancer lands on the standing leg. Cabrioles are divided into two categories: petite, which are executed at 45 degrees, and grande, which are executed at 90 degrees.
Enrico Cecchett was one of the world’s outstanding teachers of ballet. He founded a program of strict routine that included daily exercises for each day of the week to work on the technique of classical Ballet. The Cecchetti Society was formed in London in 1922 to perpetuate his method of teaching.
The “Center” is a classical ballet term which typically refers to the portion of class where the exercises are done away from the barre and in the center of the room. The exercises performed are similar to the ones done at the barre but also include more advanced steps because there is more space.
Means “Chains, links”. This is the most simple term for “turns”. The dancer performs a series of traveling turns by quick steps that involve alternating feet.
Means “Change of feet”. After a jump, the dancer will change feet in the air and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot in the front. They are done petit and grand.
Means “to chase”. It is where one foot extends out in front and then the back foot chases the front foot and very quickly the front foot shoots out again forward. They are usually done in series.
Means “five”. Not a step. It is used to indicate the number of repetitions a dancer must perform.
It means the final section of a ballet. And has two meanings:
(1) The finale of a classical ballet in which all the principal dancers perform with their partners.
(2) The final dance of the classic pas de deux, pas de trois or pas de quatre.
Simple means “Body” in french.
Côté, de [duh koh-TAY]
Means “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]
It is basically a split jeté with a turn in between.
Means “Running”. Done or executed with a running step.
Croisé, croisée [kmJah-ZAY]
Means “Crossed”. It indicates one of the directions of the shoulders. A Croise position is where it looks crossed from the audience perspective.
Danse de caractère [dahnss duh ka-rak-TEHR]
Dance of character. Any national, cultural or folk dance.
Dedans, en [ahn duh-DAHN]
Means “Inward”. The term “inward” is always attached to another Ballet term to describe the direction it should move.
Dehors, en [ahn duh-AWR]
Means “Outward”. It is a word attached to another term to describe which way the step should go.
Means “Half-bend of the knees”. It is half of a Plie (See plie). It is a graceful bending of the knees while externally turning out the feet and hips. Both feet stay on the floor the entire time during demi-plie.
Demi-pointes, sur les [sewr lay duh-mee-PWENT]
Indicates that the dancer is to stand high on the balls of the feet and under part of the toes.
Means “Behind, back”. This term may refer to a movement, position or direction for another step or term.
Means “Under”. Indicates that the arm or leg should pass behind the other.
Means “Over”. Indicates that the working foot passes in front of the supporting foot. As, for example, in pas de bourrée dessus.
Means “In front”. This term is used to describe a step, movement or direction of another term.
Développé [tahn dayv-law-PAY]
Means “developing movement”. A développé is a movement in which the working leg is drawn up to the knee of the standing leg and slowly extended (develops) to an open position in the air with control. It requires great balance and strong center!
Diagonale, en [ahn dya-gaw-NAL]
Means “In a diagonal” direction. Indicates that a step/movement is to be done traveling in a diagonal direction.
Means “Diversion, enjoyment”. Pieces of Ballet choreography called “entrées,” inserted into a classic ballet. These short dances are calculated to display the talents of individuals or groups of dancers. They are meant to add more dances to a full production ballet.
Means “Double”. As, for example, describing the number of pirouettes (a double pirouette).
Means “Separated, thrown wide apart”. Écarté is one of the eight directions of the body, Cecchetti method. Facing any corner, the leg nearer to the audience becomes the working leg and is extended in second position, pointing on tendú to the side. The arms are in fourth position. The head is raised slighlty and turned toward the raised arm, so the eyes look into the hand.
Means “Escaping or slipping movement”. A dancer does an échappé with their legs and feet. Starting in closed position and progressing to open position. For example, starting in a closed position, usually fifth position with the feet, the dancer slides both feet out equally into either second or fourth position.
Effacé, effacée [eh-fa-SAY]
Means “Shaded”. One of the directions of shoulders in which the dancer stands at an angle to the audience so that a part of the body is taken back and almost hidden from view. In the feet it is a position in which the legs are open and “uncrossed” (opposite of croise).
Élévation refers to the height or depth of a dancer’s jump or leg extension in relation to the standing leg . It is a term used to describe the height attained in springing steps such as entrechats, grands jetés and others.
Means “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.
Means “position of shoulders” or the placing of the shoulders in relation to the lower body. The dancer will twist their torso from the waist upward so that one shoulder has now moved forward and the other back. The head is then slightly inclined over the front shoulder. The two fundamental positions of épaulement are croisé and effacé.
Term used to describe the ability of a dancer to raise and hold her extended leg in the air. It takes a lot of balance, alignment, flexibility and strength to have proper and high extension. The dancer must not raise their hip in order to get the leg higher.
Face, en [ahn fahss]
Means “Facing the audience”.
Fish or fish dives are seen quite often in classical partnering and pas de deuxes. It is considered an intermediate partnering step where the man holds the ballerina’s waist and under the thigh of the arabesque leg, then lifts and bends his back leg into the fish position.
Fondu, fondue [fawn-DEW]
Means “Melting or Sinking down”. It describes the gradual bending the knee of the supporting leg. It is the same as a plie, but Fondu means you do the plie on only one leg.
Means “Whipped”. It usually describes the quick whipping action of a dancer’s leg or body. 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.
Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant [fweh-TAY rawn duh zhahnb ahn toor-NAHN]
Also called “Fouetté turns”
It is a whipped circle of turning on one leg. This fouetté may be done on demi-pointe, on point or with a jump. It is when the dancer does a pirouette, then a plie of the standing leg, followed by an extension of the free leg into rond de jambes in the air. These Fouettés are usually done in a series. They may be executed inward or outward.
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 French School was known for its elegant, graceful movements rather than technical execution. Its influence spread throughout Europe and is the basis of all ballet training.
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.
Means “Glide”. It is an in-between step. A traveling step executed by gliding the working foot from the fifth position to the side, then the other foot closes to it in fifth position. You would start by jumping up first and then moving to the side after.
Grand, grande [grahn, grahnd]
Means “Big, large”. As, for example, grand plie or grand battement.
Indicates Throwing of a step. it is a forceful “throwing” of the leg. Starts like tendu and then the leg is thrown up slightly into the air.
Jeté battu [zhuh-TAY ba-TEW]
Jeté beaten. It describes a petit jeté that is beaten with straight legs before landing in cou-de-pied position.
Jeté entrelacé [zhuh-TAY ahn-truh-la-SAY]
Means “Jeté interlaced”. This jeté is done in all directions. It describes a step where the dancer extends one leg into their air wile jumping, then meeting the other leg in the air, and then turning and landing in arabesque position at the end.
Jeté, grand [grahn zhuh-TAV]
Means “Large jeté”. It indicates a big leap. When you jump you shoot out the front leg to the front and and the back leg back. You legs have to be full extended and the toes have to point. The arms can be up in fifth position or in fourth position.
Jeté, petit [puh-TEE zhuh-TAY]
Means “Small jeté”. From a demi-plié in the fifth position, then brush the working foot out into the air, jump getting both legs straight, and come down on the working leg in front.
It is the most basic outfit that girls and women wear to practice and learn Ballet. It covers the entire torso and has straps around the shoulders. There are almost countless varieties, designs, fabric choices, colors and designs for leotards today.
Means “Lesson”. It is the daily dance classes that Ballet dancers take in order to improve their skill and level.
Means “Line”. It is the outline of the dancers’ body pose or position. Dancers constantly try to achieve the “good line” in their dancing. It is the overall look from toes to arms and the head.
Means “Circular”. A term applied to steps that are to be done in a circular movement.
Mazurka or mazurek
A famous Polish folk dance in 3/4 time which has been introduced into a number of ballets as a character dance.
Ouvert, ouverte [oo-VEHR, oo-VEHRT]
Means “Open, opened”. This may refer to positions, limbs, directions, or certain exercises or steps. It is another way to describe a step is done effacé and is the opposite of a step done croisé.
Means “Step”. Refers to a step that requires a transfer of weight. “Pas” also refers to a dance executed by a soloist (pas seul), a duet (pas de deux).
Pas de bourrée [pah duh boo-RAY]
Bourrée step. It is a step that cossists of back, side, and front steps. Starts with plie in coupe position, then releve’ to second position with your legs out. And then, you’re going to cross forward and go back to that coupe position of the feet.
Pas de bourrée couru [pah duh boo-RAY koo-REW]
Means “running”. Starts with demi-pointes by a series of small, even steps with the feet close together. It may be done in all directions or in a circle.
Pas de chat [pah duh shah]
Means “Cat’s-step”. It is a step resembling how a cat jumps. First one foot jumps up and then the other one immediately follows into a jump as well. For a moment both legs in the air are in passés before coming down.
Pas de deux, grand [grahn pah duh duh]
Means “Grand dance for two”. It describes that a dance has two dancers – meaning a partner dance. Famous Pas de deux dances include Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet.
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, appeared together.
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 people; etc.
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 cross.
Pas marché [pah mar-SHAY] Marching step. This is the dignified, classical walk of the ballerina and the premier danseur.
Penché, penchée [pahn-SHAY] Leaning, inclining. As, for example, in arabesque penchée.
Petit, petite [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.
Piqué [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.
Pirouette [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.
Pirouette piquée [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.
Plié [plee-AY] 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 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.
Poisson [pwa-SAWN] 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.
Polonaise 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.
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 pupil.
Porté, portée [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.
Premier, première [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.
Quatre [KA-truh] Four.
Quatrième [ka-tree-EM] Fourth.
Relevé [ruhl-VAY] 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 so on.
Retiré [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.
Rolling 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.
Romantic ballet 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 Giselle.
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 dehors (outward).
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.
Royale [ruah-YAL] Royal. A changement in which the calves are beaten together before the feet change position. Also termed “changement battu.”
Russian School 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.
Sauté, sautée [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 reverse order.
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.
Sept [set] Seven.
Sickling 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 [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 soubresaut.
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.
Sissonne ouverte, 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.
Six [seess] Six.
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.
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 series.
Tour Jete *see Jete entrelace
Tournant, en [ahn toor-NAHN] Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé en tournant.
Trois [trwah] Three. As, for example, in entrechat trois.
Troisième [trwah-ZYEM] Third. As, for example, in troisième arabesque.
Turn-out 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.
Tutu [tew-TEW] 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.
Vaganova, Agrippina [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 followers.
Variation [va-rya-SYAWN] Variation. A solo dance in a classic ballet.
Virtuoso 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.