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E - F - G -
J - L - M - N -
O - P - R -
S - T - V -
Adage, Adagio (a-DAHZH) At ease or at leisure.
Adage is incorporated into ballet classes and most classical
pas de deux combinations.
It is a series of slow, graceful exercises during the centre
practice which is generally focused on line, balance and
fluidity. It takes lots of practice to gain the stability
and control whilst still having a sense of fluid movement.
En L'Air (ahn lehr) In the air.
This ballet term is generally associated with ballet
movements that are in the air. For example, tour en l'air
which is a high turning jump mainly for the male dancers.
It indicates that for ballet exercises like rond de jambe
and adage the leg should be lifted off the floor, such as
rond de jambe en l'air.
Allégro ([a-lay-GROH) Bright and brisk movements. This
ballet term is associated to all jumps in ballet. So,
whether it is petite allégro, or grand allégro a dancer will
aim to show a sense of ballon and spring in the elevation.
Arabesque (a-ra-BESK) This is one of the basic poses in
ballet. The position of an arabesque shows one leg as the
supporting leg and the other extended behind you. The arms
can be held in various positions to show a first, second, or
An arabesque is like a tendu derriere but lifted en l'air.
The aim is to lift the leg without showing too much
adjustment in the body, such as pitching forward. Also, the
leg should be in a direct line behind the spine and the
shoulders should remain square.
En Arrière (un na-RYEHR) Backwards. This is used to express
a step travelling backwards. For example, glissade en
Assemblé (a-sahn-BLAY) Assembled or joined together.
This step is used in a combination of allegro and
usually has a preparation of a glissade. It is taken
from fifth position where the front, or back leg if in
reverse, uses the floor pressure to push along the
ground and join both legs together in the air.
The aim is to show a fifth position in the air, like a
soubresaut, then land back again in a fifth position. It
can be a small or high jump depending on the allegro
Attitude (a-tee-TEWD) The pose is similar to an
arabesque, but the lifted leg is bent at a 90 degree
angle. The lifted leg should be as turned out as
possible, so the knee is not dropping and aimed to be
higher than the foot.
En Avant(un na-VAHN) Forwards. If a step is travelling
forward, it is explained by saying, 'En Avant', such as
Glissade En Avant.
Balancé (ba-lahn-SAY) Rocking step.
This is a moving step that is used a lot in travelling and
center combinations. You shift from one foot to the other,
taking the body with you, and it can be done sideways,
backwards and forwards.
Ballet master, ballet mistress This is the person who is
responsible for teaching class and taking rehearsals for a
Ballon (ba-LAWN) Bounce. Every dancer aims to show a sense
of ballon in allegro exercises. It shows a spring and light
quality to the elevation.
Barre (bar) This is the crucial supply you will see in every
ballet studio. Every class begins at the barre and it holds
the dancer's support. There are a set sequence of exercises
at the barre of which every class will incorporate, such as
plies, tendus, jetes and rond de jambe.
Battement (bat-MAHN) Beating.
Battement dégagé (bat-MAHN day-ga-ZHAY) Disengaged
Battement fondu développé (bat-MAHN fawn-DEW dav-law-PAY)
Sinking down, developed.
This is an important part of barre work exercises and a
preparation for jumps. The supporting leg plies whilst the
other is in cou de pied, then both legs co ordinate together
to stretch and the leg is brought back to cou de pied. The
plie and stretch action is like the landing and take off for
Petit Battement sur le cou-de-pied
Small battement on the ankle.
Battement tendu (bat-MAHN tahn-DEW) Battement stretched.
Battu (ba-TEW) Beaten. Any step with a beat is called a
battu. For example, in jeté battu.
Bras (brah) Arms.
Bras bas(brah bah) Arms low or down.
Brisé (bree-ZAY) Broken, breaking. A fast action allegro
step in which the legs beat together in the air.
Brisé volé(bree-ZAY vaw-LAY) Flying brisé. This brisé
differs from the other, as it finishes on one foot after the
Cabriole (ka-bree-AWL) The legs beat in the air e
ither petite, which are carried out at 45 degrees. Or
Grande, which are carried out at 90 degrees.
Centre practice This is the section of a class when the
dancers move from the barre into the center. Without the
support of the barre, they continue to work of their
sense of balance and co ordnation in a series of
Chaînés (sheh-NAY) Chains, links. A fast series of
turns, on pointe or demi-pointe, with the legs held
tightly together to create an exciting and energetic
Changement de pieds (shahnzh-MAHN duh pyay) Change of
Chassé (sha-SAY) Chased. This is a travelling step where
the legs move forward in a series, taking the body
Choreographer The name for the person who has created
and choreographed a dance with their own ideas.
Classical Pose A position in ballet where the dancer
stands on a turned out foot with the other either in a
straight leg tendue derrière, or with the knee bent. It
can also be known as B-Plus.
Coda The ballet term associated with the exciting and
upbeat part of a performance or class. It is the finalé
of a ballet where the principal dancers perform
impressive jumps and turns. Also, the final dance of the
pas de deux, pas de trois or pas de quatre.
Contretemps (con-treh-tump) Counter beating. There is
both demi-contretemps, demi and full contretemps.
Combinations Sequences of steps in a ballet class or
Corps de ballet The group of dancers in a company who
dance together as unit. They have to form the patterns
on stage and stay in lines, formations and time.
De Côté (duh koh-TAY) Sideways. Like En Avant and En
Arrière, De Côté is the ballet term used to explain a
step moving to the side.
Sur le Cou-de-pied (sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY) On the "Neck"
of the foot. The foot is remained pointed and placed
usually above ribbons, or by the ankle bone.
Coupé jeté en tournant (koo-PAY zhuh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN)
The step is mostly done in a series, it makes a
three-quarter turn and a grand jeté en avant to complete
Couru (koo-REW) Running. For example, pas de bourrée
Croisé, croisée (croz-ZAY) Crossed. One of the
directions of épaulement and usually associated with
facing one of the corners before an exercise, so not
directly to the front.
En Dedans (ahn duh-DAHN) Inwards This term is commonly used
in exercises like pirouettes or rond de jambe. In a
pirouette en dedan the turn is made inwards to the
En Dehors (ahn duh-AWR)Outwards This term is used in
opposition to 'en dedan'. So, for example, a pirouette is
performed outwards towards the working leg.
Demi-plié Half-bend of the knees.
Sur les Demi-pointes
(sewr lay duh-mee-PWENT) On the half-points. This term is
used for when the dancer, male or female, stands high on the
balls of their feet.
Derrière (deh-RYEHR) Behind, back In ballet terminology this
is when a movement or step is placed behind the body.
Dessous (duh-SOO) Under The working foot passes behind the
supporting foot, such as 'pas de bourrée dessous'.
Dessus (duh-SEW) Over The working foot passes in front of
the supporting foot, like 'pas de bourrée dessus'.
Devant (duh-VAHN) In front This is used in ballet
terminology when any move or step in ballet is performed
infront of your body.
Temps Développé (tahn dayv-law-PAY) Time developed,
developing movement In ballet terminology this is often
shortened to développé.
Divertissement (dee-vehr-tees-MAHNT) Diversion, enjoyment A
short dance to show an individual talent or group dance.
Écarté (ay-har-TAY) Separated, thrown wide apart The leg is
placed a la second en l'air with the direction of the body
facing on an angle, usually to the front two corners of the
Échappé (ay-sha-PAY) Escaping or slipping movement.
In ballet terminology, an échappé is an opening of both feet
from a closed position. It can either be a jump from fifth
position to second posiiton. Or a relevé with straight knees
on demi-pointes, or pointe for the ladies.
Effacé, effacée (eh-fa-SAY) Shaded In the French method the
term for this is "ouvert". It is one of the directions of
épaulement and also used to qualify a pose in which the legs
are open (not crossed).
Élévation (ay-lay-va-SYAWN) This term would apply to all
jumps, as ballet dancers aim to have a great sense of height
Enchaînement (ahn-SHane-munt)A combination of several steps
Entrechat (ahn-truh-SHAH) Interweaving or braiding A quick
beating step where the dancer jumps and crosses their legs
into the air then lands back down in a fifth position.
Entrechat six (ahn-truh-SHAH seess) Six crossings.
Épaulement (ay-pohl-MAHN)Shouldering This movement happens
in the shoulders and should show a slight twist of
alignment, just so that the one shoulder is brought slightly
in front of the other. It gives a finishing artistic touch
to a movement and used to give more style to a position.
Extension (eks-tahn-SYAWN) In ballet terminology this is
means when a dancer lifts and holds their leg in the air. If
a dancer is said to have 'nice extensions' then it refers
the clarity, height and strength of their legs when lifted.
En Face (ahn fahss) Opposite, facing the audience.
Fish dive This ballet terminology is used in pas de deux, it
is an advanced and impressive move.
Most commonly, the female is supported by the male and she
is off the floor in a horizontal position. The male often
takes away both hands so it looks even more spectacular.
Fondu, fondue (fawn-DEW) Sinking down. This is when the
supporting knee bends and so the body is slightly lowered in
Fouetté (fweh-TAY) Whipped.
Grand Fouetté en tournant (grahn fweh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN)
Large fouetté, turning. This move is usually done en dedans
and the movement finishes in attitude croisée, attitude
effacée or any of the arabesques. It can be done on
demi-pointe or on point for the females and also with a
Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant
(fweh-TAY rawn duh zhahnb ahn toor-NAHN) Whipped circle of
the leg turning. This is a challenging move specifically for
the female dancers. It is more advanced and quite
spectacular once grasped the technique.
Fouetté show the dancer turning in a series with the
supporting leg turning and the working leg in a whipping
movement. The working leg comes into retire during the turn
and extends quickly out through the a la second position in
between the turns.
Battement frappé To strike. This is a fast and energetic
movement, whilst also preparing a dancer for the jumps later
Glissade (glee-SAD) Glide.
This a linking step for jumps which starts from a plie in
fifth position, then the leg glides along the floor before
showing a light jump in the air, then landing back in fifth
It can be performed to the front, side or back but most
commonly used to the side in ballet for a preparation into
Grand, grande (grahnd) Big, large. For example, grand
battement which is a big movement showing the legs thrown
into the air.
Grand Battement Large beating. An exercise where the working
leg is lifted into the air in a fast and quick motion, then
brought back down again.
Grand Jeté en avant Large jeté forward. The dancer throws
the foot forward, like a grand battement, at 90 degrees and
jumps into a spilt position in the air. The height of the
jump depends on the power of the legs and momentum in the
dancer's body to get high off the floor.
Pas Jeté (pah zhuh-TAY) Throwing step. A jump from one foot
to the other where the working leg is brushed into the air
and looks as if it has been thrown.
Jeté battu (zhuh-TAY ba-TEW) Jeté beaten.
Jeté entrelacé (zhuh-TAY ahn-truh-la-SAY) Jeté interlaced.
This jeté is performed in all directions and in a circle.
Petit Jeté (puh-TEE zhuh-TAY) Small jeté.
Ligne Line. Through the movements and positions, the dancer
can create nice lines. It is the effort of the arms, legs,
head and also the sync coordination of the whole body which
creates a good line.
Manèges (ma-NEZH) Circular This is when a dancer performs
the steps in a circle and usually known as a virtuoso
movement. For example, grand jetes or pique turns on pointe
travelling around the room.
Mazurka or mazurek
A character dance which is in a 3/4 rhythm to the music.
In the classical ballet, Sleeping Beauty, the Mazurka dance
at the very end of the performance where all the dancers
come together on stage to perform this joyous, upbeat dance.
Mime Every classical ballet will use mime as well as dance,
it is when the face is used for dramatic expression and it
helps portray the story and characters.
Notation Just like music notes are scored down in an
orchestra, it also happens with the dance movement. Benesh
notation is a well known method that many young dancers
study at a vocational school as part of the curriculum.
Ouvert, ouverte (oo-VEHRT) Open, opened. This term can be
applied to the alignment and position of your body, as well
as the arm and leg direction.
Pas (pah) Step. A simple step or movement with a transfer of
weight. For example, pas de bourrée. In the ballet
dictionary "Pas" also refers to a dance performed by a duet.
For example, pas de deux.
Pas de bourrée (pah duh boo-RAY) Bourrée step.
Pas de bourrée couru (pah duh boo-RAY koo-REW) Running step.
A series of small, running steps and the feet have to keep
as close as possible. Usually the step is traveled forwards
and can be done on pointe or demi-pointe.
Pas de chat (pah duh shah) Cat's step. It is like cat's leap
in which the movement jumps into the air with both feet
coming quickly underneath you to land back on two feet
Grand Pas de deux (grahn pah duh duh) Grand dance for two.
Every classical ballet will consist of a grand pas de deux
from the principal couple. It is romantic, impressive and
It has always definite structure and most commonly starts
with a gentle adage, then a variation for both the male
dancer and the ballerina, then a final coda which is a grand
finish to the dance.
Pas de quatre (pah duh KA-truh)
Dance for four. Swan Lake has a pas de quatre with two males
and two females. They perform together and in solos to make
an impressive dance.
Pas de trois (pah duh trwah)
A dance for three. The ballet Paquita has a pas de trois of
two females and one male.
Pas de valse (pah duh valss) Waltz step It is a fluid and
flowing step, similar to a balancé.
Pas marché (pah mar-SHAY) Marching step.
Penché, penchée (pahn-SHAY) Leaning, inclining.
This position is mostly known as an arabesque penché which
shows great flexibility for a dancer when they extend the
leg beyond an arabesque and split the legs whilst remaining
Petit, petite (puh-TEET) Little, small.
Piqué (pee-KAY) Pricked, pricking. There are many variations
such as jete piqué or arabesque piqué, the general quality
of this movement is sharp and energized.
Pirouette (peer-row-RET) Whirl or spin.
A test of balance as the dancer turns on one leg on
demi-pointe and the head keeps spotting as you turn. The
other leg is raised to a retire and the body is contained in
a strong effort to control the turn.
Pirouette à la seconde
(grahrul peer-row-ET a lah suh-GAWND) The same theory as a
pirouette, but the leg is to the side at 90 degrees. It is
usually a male dancer's virtuoso trick, but females also do
it on pointe too.
Pirouette piquée (peer-row-ET pee-KAY) Pricked pirouette.
Plié (plee-AY) Bent, bending. The key position in ballet
that controls all movements, steps and jumps. A dancer
always starts a ballet class with pliés at the barre in all
five positions of the feet.
There is a Demi-plié, which is what we need for all
movements, and a grand plié which is to the very depth of
your plié. In any plié, the dancer aims to have both feet
turned out and all muscles engaged to have the ultimate
power from the legs.
Sur les Pointes (sewr lay pwent)On the pointes. The term for
when a dancer is stood on pointe, either by a rise or releve.
Pointe shoes The satin shoes allow a ballerina to dance on
the tips of her toes in every ballet performance.
The shoes are hand made by different manufacturers and give
a ballerina the support she needs in every way.
The box of the shoe is a solid, hard material and the shank
is strengthened to each dancer's different needs.
The ribbons and elastic are sewn individually by each dancer
to give further support to the ankles and make sure the shoe
stays securely on the foot.
Polonaise Like a mazurka dance, it is in 3/4 time in which
the dancers take two steps forward on demi-pointe and one
more step on flat with the supporting knee bent. It can
continue in a series of steps and travel to move across the
Port de bras (pawr duh brah) Carriage of the arms. The
movement in which your arms take to pass through each
position. In a typical ballet class, the dancers would have
a set port de bras exercise designed specifically to work on
the back and arm muscles.
Porté, portée (pawr-TAY) Carried A step which is traveled in
the air from one place to another, e.g. Assemblé dessus
Promenade (prawm-NAD) Turn in a walk. The turn can be done
held in a position, such as an arabesque, and it is usually
in an adagio exercise so the control is in the supporting
leg to turn you around.
Relevé (ruhl-VAY) Raised. A raise either on pointe or
demi-pointe and your foot rises off the floor, either with a
small spring or softer motion.
Retiré (ruh-tee-RAY) Withdrawn. The position for pirouettes
where the thigh raised and the toe is placed in front,
behind or at the side of the knee. The supported leg in
straight, on demi-pointe for pirouettes and balances.
Rise This is a smooth relevé, so the toes do not move from
the place at which the rise began.
Rolling This is a common technical correction for dancers,
so if the feet roll inwards or outwards it is not the
correct placement but the weight should be place in the
middle of the foot
Romantic ballet A style of ballet created during the early
nineteenth century, such as La Sylphide and Giselle.
Ront de jambe (rawn duh zhamb) Round of the leg, a circular
movement of the leg. Rond de jambe can be done clockwise (en
dehors) and counterclockwise (en dedans).
Rond de jambe à terre
(rawn duh zhamb a tehr) Rond de jambe on the ground. The toe
of the working foot does not leave the ground. There are two
kinds of ronds de jambe à terre: En Dedans (inwards) and En
Rond de jambe en l'air
(rawn duh zhamb ahn lehr) Rond de jambe in the air. The
movement can also be done en dehors and en dedans. The whole
movement is made by the leg below the knee, so the thigh
must not take the action but it is in the lower leg work.
Royale (ruah-YAL) Royal. A jumping movement where the feet
and calves are beaten together before the feet change
position. It is also known as "changement battu." It easy to
get Royale mixed up with Entrechat, because both beat in the
air but the difference is a Royale changes feet when you
Saut de basque (soh duh bask) Basque jump. A jumping step
where the dancer turns in the air with one foot drawn to
retire or cou de pied. The male dancers also perform it with
a double turn in the air.
Sauté, sautée (soh-TAY) Jumped, jumping.
A la Seconde (ah la suh-GAWND) In the second position, for
example, Grand battement à la seconde.
Sickling This term is a technical fault in ballet and
applies to the line of your pointed foot, because if the
dancer turns their foot in from the ankle, it breaks the
straight line of the leg and becomes a sickle. The opposite
of this would be called fishing the foot.
Sissonne (see-SAWN) A jump from both feet onto one foot.
There are many variations including sissonne fermée,
sissonne tombée and sissonne fondue, all of which finish on
two feet. It can be jumped in either petite or grande
Sissonne fermée (see-SAWN fehr-MAY)Closed sissonne. This
type of sissonne finishes on two feet into a fifth position.
Sissonne ouverte (see-SAWN oo-VEHRT)Open sissonne.
Supporting leg A term used by dancers and teachers for the
leg which supports the body, so that the other working leg
is free to carry the movement.
Temps levé Raised Movement This is a simple jump from one
foot and landing back on the same foot.
A Terre (a tehr) On the ground.
Tour en l'air (toor ahn lehr) Turn in the air. This is
essentially a male dancer's step, although girls can
practice it too. The turn can be a single, double or triple.
You jump straight up into the air from a demi-plié in fifth,
then make a complete turn and land back again in the fifth
position. The arms support the turn in first position and
the head must spot like in pirouettes.
En Tournant (ahn toor-NAHN) Turning. The body turns while
completing the required ballet step, for example, Assemblé
Turn-out Turn-out is one of the main parts of technique for
ballet. The turn out is initiated from hip joints right
through to the feet, so the whole leg is engaged to achieve
the range of turn out you have.
Tutu (tew-TEW) The traditional costume for a ballerina and
there are several different styles of tutu, with the most
common being the classical tutu. It is made of many layers
of net and decorated in different styles for each ballet.
Variation The name for a solo dance performed in a classic
Virtuoso The grand and challenging steps in ballet such as
tour en l'air for the males and fouette turns for the
ladies. It takes a lot of skill to master these steps and
always the part that gets the big applause from the
Working leg The leg that is carrying out the movement, while
other leg is supporting the balance of the body.