If there is one thing I want to emphasize, it is that ballet terms can be complicated to remember when you are first starting out. You are already trying to remember what your dance teacher showed you, but now you have to stick a name to it and sometimes things can get a little overwhelming. This blog will help show and explain the basic terms every beginner dancer should know so your upcoming ballet class is smooth sailing!
Okay so to start off, In ballet, there are five basic positions of the arms and feet, numbered one through five. Refer to each picture to see and understand how they are done and utilized.
1. Positions of the Feet
For the positions of the feet, each of the positions utilizes turn-out, or a 90-degree rotation of the leg from the hip joint. Keeping your upper half tall and strong will help open up your hip joint and turn out your legs.
Remember: Dancers work many years to achieve a full 90-degree turn-out!
2. Positions of the Arms
Like the positions of the feet, the positions of the arms utilize turn out expect this time it is for your upper body. Keeping your neck long, shoulders back and down and your chin and chest up, you will find your posture clean and your arms ready for better movement.
Try matching your arms and feet to the pictures above! (great practice for your upcoming ballet class).
3. plié (plee-ay): to bend. Keeping both feet flat on the floor at all times, bend your knees. Remember to send your knees directly out over your toes!
4. relevé (ruh-leh-vay’): to rise. This can be done on one foot or both feet together. Start with the feet together, keep the knees straight and lift the heels high enough so all of your body weight is on the balls of the feet – NOT the tips of your toes. Repeat this on one foot.
5. sauté (soh-tay): to jump. This sort of jump is performed “two feet to two feet.” This means that you leave the ground by jumping off of both feet at the same time and you land on both feet at the same time. Begin in a plié (as described above). Using your feet the same way you did to perform relevé, propel yourself into the air. Be sure to straighten and extend your legs in the air, but land in plié to cushion your knees.
6. Arabesque (arah-besk): In ballet, arabesque is a position where the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended directly behind the body with a straight knee. Keeping your upper body as straight as you can, an arabesque utilizes your lower back muscles and core to help you lift your back leg.
7. Tendu (Tahn-doo): tight or stretched: A tendu is a step in ballet which involves moving from first (or fifth) position through demi pointe to a fully extended leg with the foot pointed. Keeping your foot mainly on the ground.
8. Chassé (sha- say) to chase: one of a series of gliding steps in ballet in which the same foot always leads. three consecutive dance steps, two fast and one slow, to four beats of music.
9. Grand Battement large battement: A movement (done at the barre or without) in which both legs are kept straight and one leg is kicked outward from the body and in again.
10. Rond de Jambe (rond-de-jon): circle of the leg. A movement in classical ballet in which one leg moves in a straight line away from the body before defining a semi-circular motion.
Having these terms in your back pocket before your next ballet class is a great way to keep up with all this terminology. While I only went over some of the basic moves and terminology, this is a great start to practice for your upcoming ballet class. If you have any questions about specific moves and how they are executed, be sure to ask your teacher! If you would like to learn ballet with us, we have some amazing ECD Absolute beginner classes, check us out here to learn more, and how to get registered here!
See ya later!
The STU Arts Dance Team!