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 ballet school newcastle A List of Ballet Terms You Need to Know blog image

Ballet is a dance that has its own language, a series of terms and descriptions that have come from different languages and have their own special meaning. To understand ballet and to enjoy it, it is important to learn some of these terms and what they mean in the dance.

Here are some of the most popular ballet terms and what they mean

Ballet Movement

  • Adagio – a slow dance movement
  • Allegro – fast movement, often with jumping involved
  • Assemble – jump off one foot and land on two
  • Balance – a three step with the leading foot stepping out and weight placed on it with the knee bent. The other foot comes to the front or back, touches without transferring weight and then return to the beginning foot
  • Changement – jump in fifth or third position, altering which foot is at the front
  • Croise – facing corner, legs crossed
  • Developpe – unfolding the working leg in the air and through a passé position
  • Eschappe – jump to second from the first or fifth and then jump back (also known as Eschappe sauté)
  • Emboite – jumping from one foot to the other with the foot pointed towards the floor and changing legs each jump
  • Grand bettement – brush the foot on the floor energetic so that it creates a big, straight leg kick
  • Jete – like a tendu but when the leg or foot comes off the floor to around 45 degrees (this can also be 25 degrees in some situations)
  • Pirouette – a basic turn that can include multiple rotations with the lead leg bent with the foot at the knee Port de bras – arm movements
  • Sissonne – a quick jump that starts on two feet and lands on one
  • Sous-sus – fifth position to spring releve to crossed fifth
  • Temps Lie – move weight from one foot to the other Tour en l’air – a turn in the air, often a male danger’s step that jumps from a demi-plie and has a single or double turn in the air

Ballet Positions

  • Arabesque – a position where you stand on one leg and extend the other backwards
  • Coup de pied – position of the foot when the little toe is at the ankle or the heel is at the back of the ankle (in front and back)
  • Fondu – the standing leg plies and straightens while the other is either moving or stationary
  • Plie – different positions involving the standing leg or legs including the demi or half and the grand or big plie. With the latter, the heel comes all the way off the floor in all positions apart from the second
  • Retire – position of the leg or foot with the little toe under the knee or behind the knee (front or back)
  • Rond de jambe – this position has a tendu front then a circle is made towards the side with the toe and toward back or back (known as en dehors or outward) or to the front (known as en dedans or inward)