Support America’s National Ballet Company® DONATE NOW
In the air. Indicates: (1) that a movement is to be made in the air; for example, rond de jambe en l’air; (2) that the working leg, after being opened to the second or fourth position à terre, is to be raised to a horizontal position with the toe on the level of the hip.
One of the basic poses in ballet, arabesque takes its name from a form of Moorish ornament. In ballet it is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, which can be straight or demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various harmonious positions creating the longest possible line from the fingertips to the toes. The shoulders must be held square to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied to infinity. The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques; the Russian School (Vaganova), four; and the French School, two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps, both in the slow movements of adagio and the brisk, gay movements of allégro.
Backward. Used to indicate that a step is executed moving away from the audience. As, for example, in glissade en arriére.
Assembled or joined together. A step in which the working foot slides well along the ground before being swept into the air. As the foot goes into the air the dancer pushes off the floor with the supporting leg, extending the toes. Both legs come to the ground simultaneously in the fifth position. If an assemblé is porté it requires a preparatory step such as a glissade to precede it. If an assemblé is en tournant it must be preceded by a preparatory step. Assemblés are done petit or grand according to the height of the battement and are executed dessus, dessous, devant, derrire, en avant, en arrire and en tournant. They may be done en face, croisé, effacé or écarté. Assemblé may also be done with a beat for greater brilliance. In the Cecchetti assemblé both knees are bent and drawn up after the battement so that the flat of the toes of both feet meet while the body is in the air.
Big assemblé, turning. This assemblé is done in the same manner as grand assemblé. It is taken only dessus or derrire. It is traveled directly to the side, on a diagonal traveling upstage, in a circle, etc. It is usually preceded by a pas couru or a chassé. The battement at 90 degrees to the second position is taken facing upstage, then the dancer completes the turn en dedans and finishes the assemblé facing the audience.
A particular pose in dancing derived by Carlo Blasis from the statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. It is a position on one leg with the other lifted in back, 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. There are a number of attitudes according to the position of the body in relation to the audience:for example, attitude croisée, attitude effacée, attitude de face.
Forward. A direction for the execution of a step. Used to indicate that a given step is executed moving forward, toward the audience. As, for example, in sissonne fermée en vant.
Rocking step. This step is very much like a pas de valse and is an alternation of balance, shifting the weight from one foot to the other. Balancé may be done crossing the foot either front or back. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié, dégagé the R foot to the second position and jump on it lightly in demi-plié, crossing the L foot behind the R ankle and inclining the head and body to the right. Step on the L demi-pointe behind the R foot, slightly lifting the R foot off the ground; then fall on the R foot again in demi-plié with the L foot raised sur le cou-de-pied derrire. The next balancé will be to the left side. Balancé may also be done en avant or en arrire facing croisé or effacé and en tournant.
Bounce. Ballon is the light, elastic quality in jumping in which the dancer bounds up from the floor, pauses a moment in the air and descends lightly and softly, only to rebound in the air like the smooth bouncing of a ball.
Ball-like or bouncing step. A step in which the dancer springs into the air extending one leg to the front, side or back and lands with the extended leg either sur le cou-de-pied or retiré. There are two kinds of ballonné: ballonné simple, which may be performed petit or grand; and ballonné compose, which is a compound step consisting of three movements. Ballonné may be executed in all the directions of the body.
Tossed. This step consists of coupé dessous and coupé dessus performed in a series with a rocking, swinging movement. The step may be performed with straight knees at 45 degrees or with développés at 90 degrees. The direction of the body is effacé with the body inclining backward or forward with each change of weight. In the Russian School, ballotté is performed traveling forward on ballotté en avant and backward on ballotté en arrire to the place from which the first jump began. In the French School and the Cecchetti method, ballotté is performed on one spot.
Beating. A beating action of the extended or bent leg. There are two types of battements, grands battements and petits battements. The petits battements are: Battements tendus, dégagés, frappés and tendus relevés: stretched, disengaged, struck and stretched-and-lifted .
Disengaged battement. A term of the Cecchetti method. The battement dégagé is similar to 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, then slides back into the first or fifth position. Battements dégagés strengthen the toes, develop the instep and improve the flexibility of the ankle joint. Same as battement tendu jeté (Russian School), battement glissé (French School).
Large battement like a bell. A term of the French School and the Cecchetti method. Grands battements en cloche are continuous grands battements executed from the fourth position front or back en l’air to the fourth position back or front en l’air, passing through the first position. Same as grand battement jeté balancé, but the body remains upright as the leg swings.
Battement fondu developed. This is performed in the same manner as battemen fondu simple(q.v). As the supporting leg straightens, the working leg does développé at either 45 or 90 degrees. If the développé is at 45 degrees, the working leg opens from sur le cou-de-pied. If the développé is at 90 degrees, the working leg is brought from sur le cou-de-pied to retiré, that opens in the desired direction as the supporing knee straightens. the leg moves evenly until reaching the angle of 45 or 90 degree and is sustained momentarily in the extended position before slowly returning to sur cou-de-pied as the suppoting leg executes a demi-plié.
Struck battement. An exercise in which the dancer forcefully extends the working leg from a cou-de-pied position to the front, side or back.This exercise strengthens the toes and insteps and develops the power of elevation. It is the basis of the allegro step, the jeté.
Small battement on the ankle. This is an exercise at the bar in which the working foot is held sur le cou-de-pied and the lower part of the leg moves out and in, changing the foot from sur le cou-de-pied devant to sur le cou-de-pied derrière and vice versa. Petits battements are executed with the supporting foot à terre, sur la demi-pointe or sur la pointe.
Battement stretched. A battement tendu is the commencing portion and ending portion of a grand battement and is an exercise to force the insteps well outward. The working foot slides from the first or fifth position to the second or fourth position without lifting the toe from 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. Battements tendus may also be done with a demi-plié in the first or fifth position. They should be practiced en croix.
Large battement. An exercise in which the working leg is raised from the hip into the air and brought down again, the accent being on the downward movement, both knees straight. This must be done with apparent ease, the rest of the body remaining quiet. The function of grands battements is to loosen the hip joints and turn out the legs from the hips. Grands battements can be taken devant, derrière and à la seconde.
Arms low or down. This is the dancer’s “attention.” The arms form a circle with the palms facing each other and the back edge of the hands resting on the thighs. The arms should hang quite loosely but not allowing the elbows to touch the sides. This position corresponds to the fifth position en bas, Cecchetti method.
Positions of the arms. Although the positions of the feet are standard in all methods, the positions of the arms are not, each method having its own set of arm positions. The Cecchetti method has five standard positions with a derivative of the fourth position and two derivatives of the fifth position. The French School has a preparatory position and five standard positions. These positions are used in some Russian schools. The Russian School (Vaganova) has a preparatory position and three standard positions of the arms.
Broken, breaking. A small beating step in which the movement is broken. Brisés are commenced on one or two feet and end on one or two feet. They are done dessus, dessous, en avant and en arrire. Fundamentally a brisé is an assemblé beaten and traveled. The working leg brushes from the fifth position to the second position so that the point of the foot is a few inches off the ground, and beats in front of or behind the other leg, which has come to meet it; then both feet return to the ground simultaneously in demi-plié in the fifth position.
Flying brisé. In this brisé the dancer finishes on one foot after the beat, the other leg crossed either front or back. The foundation of this step is a fouetté movement with a jeté battu. In the Russian and French Schools the raised leg finishes sur le cou-de-pied devant or derrière and the brisé volé is done like a jeté battu. In the Cecchetti method, the working foot passes through the first position to the fourth position, the calves are beaten together and on alighting the free leg is extended forward or back with a straight knee.
Caper. An allegro step in which the extended legs are beaten in the air. Cabrioles are divided into two categories: petite, which are executed at 45 degrees, and grande, which are executed at 90 degrees. The working leg is thrust into the air, the underneath leg follows and beats against the first leg, sending it higher. The landing is then made on the underneath leg. Cabriole may be done devant, derrière and à la seconde in any given position of the body such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc.
Double cabriole. This is a cabriole in which one leg strikes the other in the air two or more times before landing.
Chains, links. This is an abbreviation of the term “tours chaînés déboulés”: a series of rapid turns on the points or demi-pointes done in a straight line or in a circle. See Déboulés; Tour, petit.
Change of feet. The term is usually abbreviated to changement. Changements are springing steps in the fifth position, the dancer changing feet in the air and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot in the front. They are done petit and grand.
Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series.
Like a bell. Refers to grands battements executed continuously devant and derrire through the first position. See Battement en cloche, grand.
Sideways. Used to indicate that a step is to be made to the side, either to the right or to the left.
On the cou-de-pied. The working foot is placed on the part of the leg between the base of the calf and the beginning of the ankle.
A compound step consisting of a coupé dessous making a three-quarter turn and a grand jeté en avant to complete the turn. The step is usually done in a series either en manège or en diagonale. See Tour de reins.
Running. As, for example, in pas de bourrée couru.
Crossed. One of the directions of épaulement. The crossing of the legs with the body placed at an oblique angle to the audience. The disengaged leg may be crossed in the front or in the back.
In the shape of a cross. Indicates that an exercise is to be executed to the fourth position front, to the second position and to the fourth position back, or vice versa. As, for example, in battements tendus en croix. (See Battement tendu)
Inward. In steps and exercises the term en dedans indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l’air, moves in a circular direction, counterclockwise from back to front. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dedans. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made inward toward the supporting leg.
Outward. In steps and exercises the term en dehors indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l’air, moves in a circular direction, clockwise. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dehors. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made outward toward the working leg.
Half-bend of the knees. All steps of elevation begin and end with a demi-plié. See Plié.
On the half-points. Indicates that the dancer is to stand high on the balls of the feet and under part of the toes. Also used in the singular, “sur la demi-pointe.”
Behind, back. This term may refer to a movement, step or placing of a limb in back of the body. In reference to a particular step (for example, glissade derriére), the addition of derrière implies that the working foot is closed at the back.
Under. Indicates that the working foot passes behind the supporting foot. As, for example, in assemblé dessous.
Over. Indicates that the working foot passes in front of the supporting foot. As, for example, in assemblé dessus.
In front. This term may refer to a step, movement or the placing of a limb in front of the body. In reference to a particular step (for example, jeté devant), the addition of the word “devant” implies that the working foot is closed in the front.
Time developed, developing movement. Through common usage the term has become abridged to développé. A développé is a movement in which the working leg is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg and slowly extended to an open position en l’air and held there with perfect control. The hips are kept level and square to the direction in which the dancer is facing. Développés are performed à la quatrième devant, à la seconde and à la quatrième derrière and may be executed in all directions of the body. They are done with the supporting foot flat on the ground , on the body. They are done with the supporting foot flat on the ground, on the demi-pointe, full point or en fondu. In the Cecchetti method, the working foot is brought up to the retiré position with the toe pointed at the side of the knee (retiré de côté) before extending the leg in the required direction. In the Russian and French Schools, the pointed toe is brought to retiré devant before extending the leg forward or to retiré derrière before extending the leg backward. When performing a développé to second position, the front foot is brought to retiré devant and then extended, or the back foot is brought to retiré derrière and then extended.
In a diagonal. Indicates that a step is to be done traveling in a diagonal direction.
Separated, thrown wide apart. Écarté is one of the eight directions of the body, Cecchetti method. In this position the dancer faces either one of the two front corners of the room. The leg nearer the audience is pointed in the second position à terre or raised to the second position en l’air. The torso is held perpendicular. The arms are held en attitude with the raised arm being on the same side as the extended leg. The head is raised slightly and turned toward the raised arm so that the eyes look into the palm of the hand.
Escaping or slipping movement. An échappé is a level opening of both feet from a closed to an open position. There are two kinds of échappés: échappé sauté, which is done with a spring from the fifth position and finishes in a demi-plié in the open position, and échappé sur les pointes, or demi-pointes, which is done with a relevé and has straight knees when in the open position. In each case échappés are done to the second or fourth position, both feet traveling an equal distance from the original center of gravity.
Échappé on the points or toes. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié and, with a little spring, open the feet to the second or fourth position sur les pointes. The feet should glide rapidly to the open position and both feet must move evenly. On reaching the open position both knees must be held taut. With a little spring return to the fifth position in demi-plié. If the échappé is done in the second position the R foot may be closed either front or back. In échappé to the fourth position facing en face, croisé or effacé, the movement is done from the fifth position to the fourth position without change. Échappés may also be done en croix.
Shaded. One of the directions of épaulement in which the dancer stands at an oblique angle to the audience so that a part of the body is taken back and almost hidden from view. This direction is termed “ouvert” in the French method. Effacé is also used to qualify a pose in which the legs are open (not crossed). This pose may be taken devant or derrière, either à terre or en l’air.
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. Entrechats are counted from two to ten according to the number of crossings required and counting each crossing as two movements, one by each leg; that is, in an entrechat quatre each leg makes two distinct movements. Entrechats are divided into two general classes: the even-numbered entrechats, or those which land on two feet– deux, quatre, six, huit and dix– and the odd-numbered entrechats, or those which land on one foot– trois, cinq, sept and neuf. In all entrechats both legs beat equally. Even-numbered entrechats are done en face or en tournant, while odd-numbered entrechats are done devant, derrière, en tournant, the côté or de volée. In the Cecchetti method, entrechats are done with the knees bent and the feet drawn up so that one foot beats against the other from the base of the calf downward.
Six crossings. Demi-plié in the fifth position R foot front. With a strong jump open the legs, beat the R leg behind the L, open the legs, beat the R leg in front of the L, open the legs and finish in demi-plié in the fifth position, R foot back.
Shouldering. The placing of the shoulders. A term used to indicate a movement of the torso from the waist upward, bringing one shoulder forward and the other back with the head turned or inclined over the forward shoulder. The two fundamental positions of épaulement are croisé and effacé. When épaulement is used the position of the head depends upon the position of the shoulders and the shoulder position depends upon the position of the legs. Épaulement gives the finishing artistic touch to every movement and is a characteristic feature of the modern classical style compared to the old French style. which has little épaulement.
Opposite (the audience); facing the audience.
Sinking down. A term used to describe a lowering of the body made by bending the knee of the supporting leg. Saint-Léon wrote, “Fondu is on one leg what a plié is on two.” In some instances the term fondu is also used to describe the ending of a step when the working leg is placed on the ground with a soft and gradual movement. An example of this is jeté fondu.
Whipped. A term applied to a whipping movement. 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: petit fouetté, which may be devant, à la seconde or derrire and executed à terre, sur la demi-pointe or sauté; and grand fouetté, which may be sauté, relevé and en tournant.
Large fouetté, turning. This fouetté may be done on demi-pointe, on point or with a jump. It is usually done en dedans and may be finished in attitude croisée, attitude effacée or any of the arabesques.
Whipped circle of the leg turning. This is the popular turn in which the dancer executes a series of turns on the supporting leg while being propelled by a whipping movement of the working leg. The whipping leg should be at hip level, with the foot closing in to the knee of the supporting leg. Fouettés are usually done in a series. They may be executed en dehors or en dedans.
En dehors (Russian School): Fourth position R foot back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L leg. Fondu on the L leg, at the same time opening the R leg to the second position en l’air. Relevé on the L point or demi-pointe, executing a tour en dehors and whipping the R foot in back of, then quickly in front of, the L knee. Fondu on the L leg, opening the R leg to the second position en l’air.
En dehors (Cecchetti method): Fourth position R foot back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L leg. Fondu on the L leg, at the same time extending the R leg to quatrième position devant en l’air (croisé devant). Relevé on the L point or demi-pointe, sweeping the R leg to the second position en l’air, and execute a tour en dehors, bringing the R foot to side and front of L knee. Fondu on the L foot, extending the R leg forward again. Three-quarters of the turn should be made with the R foot in position on the supporting knee. This fouetté may also be executed from a preparation starting with a pas de bourrée en dedans and finishing with a coupé dessous, opening the working leg to quatrième devant.
En dedans (Russian School): Fouetté en dedans is done in the same manner as en dehors. After a pirouette en dedans the extension is made to the second position en l’air; next the foot is brought in front of, then in back of, the supporting.
En dedans (Cecchetti method): After a pirouette en dedans the working leg is extended to the fourth position derrière en l’air; then with a demi-rond de jambe en l’air en dedans the foot is brought to the front of the supporting knee.
Glide. A traveling step executed by gliding the working foot from the fifth position in the required direction, the other foot closing to it. Glissade is a terre à terre step and is used to link other steps. After a demi-plié in the fifth position the working foot glides along the floor to a strong point a few inches from the floor. The other foot then pushes away from the floor so that both knees are straight and both feet strongly pointed for a moment; then the weight is shifted to the working foot with a fondu. The other foot, which is pointed a few inches from the floor, slides into the fifth position in demi-plié. When a glissade is used as an auxiliary step for small or big jumps, it is done with a quick movement on the upbeat. Glissades are done with or without change of feet, and all begin and end with a demi-plié. There are six glissades: devant, derrière, dessous, dessus, en avant, en arrière, the difference between them depending on the starting and finishing positions as well as the direction. Glissade may also be done sur les pointes.
Throwing step. A jump from one foot to the other in which the working leg is brushed into the air and appears to have been thrown. There is a wide variety of pas jetés (usually called merely jetés) and they may be performed in all directions.
Jeté beaten. Both jeté dessus and jeté dessous may be beaten.
Large jeté forward. A big leap forward preceded by a preliminary movement such as a pas couru or a glissade, which gives the necessary push-off. The jump is done on the foot which is thrown forward as in grand battement at 90 degrees, the height of the jump depending on the strength of the thrust and the length of the jump depending on the strong push-off of the other leg which is thrust up and back. The dancer tries to remain in the air in a definitely expressed attitude or arabesque and descends to the ground in the same pose. It is important to start the jump with a springy plié and finish it with a soft and controlled plié.
Jeté interlaced. A term of the Russian School. This jeté is done in all directions and in a circle. It is usually preceded by a chassé or a pas couru to give impetus to the jump. Stand on the R leg facing corner 2 in the second arabesque à terre. On the upbeat, demi-plié and raise the L leg to 45 degrees, inclining the body slightly forward; step on the L foot in the demi-plié toward corner 6, opening the arms to the second position; throw the R leg forward to 90 degrees (passing through the first position) toward corner 6 and push off the floor with the L leg. At the same time, lower the arms, then quickly raise them through the first position to the third position to help provide force for the jump. During the jump the body turns in the air to the left and the L leg is thrown out (the legs almost come together and appear to interlace), passes the R in the air and finishes in the back at 90 degrees. The landing is made on the R leg in demi-plié in the first arabesque facing corner 2, on the spot from which the jump began. In the French School this is called “grand jeté dessus en tournant”; in the Cecchetti method, “grand jeté en tournant en arrière”.
Large jeté. In this step the legs are thrown to 90 degrees with a corresponding high jump. It is done forward to attitude croisée or effacée, and to all the arabesques. It may also be done backward with the leg raised either croisé or effacé devant. Grand jeté is always preceded by a preliminary movement such as a glissade, pas couru or coupe.
Small jeté. From a demi-plié in the fifth position the working foot glides along the floor until it reaches a position à la demi-hauteur. The supporting foot springs from the floor and the landing is made in fondu on the working leg with the other foot extended in the air or sur le cou-de-pied. Petit jeté is done dessus, dessous, en avant, en arrière and en tournant.
Circular. A term applied to steps or enchaînements executed in a circle.
A Polish folk dance in 3/4 time which has been introduced into a number of ballets as a character dance.
The art of using the face and body to express emotion and dramatic action.
Open, opened. This may refer to positions (the second and fourth positions of the feet are positions ouvertes), limbs, directions, or certain exercises or steps. In the French School the term is used to indicate a position or direction of the body similar to effacé, that is, à la quatriéme devant ouvert or effacé devant en l’air
Pas de bourrée, running. A term of the French School. This is a progression on the points or 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. Same as pas de bourrée suivi.
Cat’s-step. The step owes its name to the likeness of the movement to a cat’s leap.
Dance for two.
Marching step. This is the dignified, classical walk of the ballerina and the premier danseur.
Leaning, inclining. As, for example, in arabesque penchée.
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 position 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.
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.
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.
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. Demi-plié in the second position (R arm curved in front of the body, L arm in second); spring onto the L demi-pointe, throwing the R leg to the second position and touring en dehors. At the completion of the first turn, the supporting heel is lowered in demi-plié, then immediately pushes from the floor to demi-pointe, and the turn is repeated. After a series of 8 or 16 turns, grande pirouette is usually concluded with multiple pirouettes sur le cou-de-pied. The force for the first turn is taken by the R arm, which opens to the second position. The arms remain in the second position during the series of turns, then close in the first position for the concluding pirouettes. The head turns and the eyes “spot”, providing additional force for the turns.
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 derrire, in attitude, arabesque or any given position. This turn is executed either en dedans or en dehors)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. See Tour lent.
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. Occasionally the term may refer to a lowering of the working foot from a position pointe tendue to the ground and reraising it to the position pointe tendue, as in battement tendu relevé. In the Russian school the term relevé is also used to mean the slow raising of the stretched leg to 90 degree in any direction. See Battement relevé lent.
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.
Rond de jambe on the ground. An exercise at the barre 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).
The exercise at the barre is usually preceded by a preparation from the first or fifth position which is done on two introductory chords. Fifth position R foot front (L hand on bar, R arm in second position). Chord 1: demi-plié (lowering the R arm to the first position) and slide the R foot forward to the fourth position, pointe tendue (raising the R arm to the first position and inclining the head toward the bar). Chord 2: slide the R toe along the floor, describing an arc and finishing in the second position as the L knee straightens (the R arm opens to the second position and the head turns to the right). On the “upbeat” the R foot is drawn in an arc to the fourth position back (the head turns forward) and the dancer begins a series of ronds de jambe à terre en dehors. For ronds de jambe à terre en dedans, reverse the movements.
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.
Royal. A changement in which the calves are beaten together before the feet change position. Also termed “changement battu.” Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié in preparation for a small spring into the air, opening both legs slightly. Quickly close the legs and beat the calves of the legs together, open slightly to the side, and come to the ground in demi-plié in the fifth position R foot back.
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. See Jeté en tournant en avant, grand (Cecchetti method).
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.
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.
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 arrire and de côté in all directions, such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc. The French School terms this step “faux entrechat cinq ramassé”.
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.
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. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié and push off the floor into the air, turning en dehors (to the right). Land in demi-plié in the fifth position, R foot back. 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.
Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé en tournant.