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“Ballet 101” Terms

(in order of appearance)

© 2000 Russ InVision. All Rights Reserved
Any public performance, unauthorized duplication or commercial exhibition is strictly prohibited and is in violation of applicable laws.


Ballet Instruction


Warm-up: Doing exercises that stretch and loosen the muscles to prepare your body for dancing.

Barre: A horizontal wooden hand rail that runs around the wall of a ballet studio.

Alignment: The lining up of parts of your body to make a balanced and graceful line.

Posture: The position and carriage of the body.

Pointe: A position of the foot in which your heel is held up, your big toe is stretched down
 toward  the ground, your leg is turned out, and your foot is in line with your leg.

Positions of the feet: Five different positions in which your weight is evenly distributed over your
feet no matter what position you body is in, with your legs turned out from the pelvis.

Port de bras: Carriage of the arms. Set movements of the arms from one position to the other.

Plie´: An exercise in which, standing erect and with back straight, you move down and up with
 the bend of the knees.

Demi-plie´: A half knee-bend. Nearly every step begins and ends with a demi-plie´.

Grand plie´: A full knee-bend with heels off the floor.

Eleve´: A movement in which you rise up high on to the balls of your feet. A similar position is
 also referred to as Releve´.

Coupe´: A position of your foot, lifted and held flexed, tight against your ankle.

Battement: A generic term which describes the various movements in which the leg makes
 a beating motion.

Battement tendu: An exercise in which you stretch your foot along the floor and end in a point.

En croix: In the shape of a cross (front, side, back)

Degage´: An exercise similar to a tendu that finishes with the foot lifted from the ground
 in a point.

Rond de jambes `a terre: Circle of the leg, on the ground (`a terre). An exercise in
 which you mark out a semi-circle on the floor with your pointed foot.

Balance: In dance, a term which describes the holding of your body in a stable position.

Centre Practice: a group of exercises similar to those à la barre but performed in the centre of the room without the support of the barre. These exercises are usually performed with alternate feet and are invaluable for obtaining good balance and control

Balance: In dance, a term which describes the holding of your body in a stable position

Passe´: A movement that resembles a pass.

Arabesque: A position in which you balance on one straight leg (or bent leg) with the other
stretched out behind you.

Grand Battement: Meaning large beats. An exercise in which you raise your pointed foot
high off of the ground keeping both legs straight.

Allegro: An Italian musical term meaning quick and lively. In ballet, allegro steps are
completed in fast tempo without your arms flapping about.

Petit Allegro: Small jumping and turning steps.

Glissade: Gliding or sliding steps. A traveling step in which you glide your foot along
 the floor with your front knee bent and you transfer your weight. During the moment
of transition, your legs are fully stretched.

Demi-pointe: Half point, meaning standing on the balls of your feet.

Bourre´e: A linking step in which you rise up on the balls of your feet (on to your half point) and glide across the floor with quick, tiny steps.

Pas de Bourre´e: A small stepping movement, executed on the balls of the feet or on pointe, in which the you either skim smoothly across the floor or transfer the weight from foot-to-foot three times as a transition into another movement. A pas-de-bourrée consists of bending both legs, extending one, then stepping up, up, down, finishing with bent knees.

Pas de chat: A traveling step-of-the-cat in which you bring one foot up along you
 leg to the knee, and transfer your weight to the other leg with a spring in the air, landing
with your feet in 5th position.

Routine: In dance, a term meaning a sequence of steps.

Marking: Going through the movements of a dance routine without dancing them fully,
 in order to familiarize yourself with the steps before performing.

Finale: The concluding part of a performance.

Grand Allegro: A combination of large traveling steps and jumps.

Pas Marche´: The graceful walk to center stage to take a curtsey or bow.

Curtsey: A movement by the female dancer (ballerina) that acknowledges the
 instructor at the end of a class, or an audience at the end of a performance.

Bow: A movement by the male dancer (danseur noble) that acknowledges the
 instructor at the end of a class, or an audience at the end of a performance.

Reverence: A movement, generally made by the sweep of an arm to acknowledge
the rest of the ensemble cast (corps), the instructor, the choreographer, and/or the orchestra.




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