BALLET VOCABULARY

A

À la seconde To the side 

Adagio Slow movements

Allegro Brisk, lively

Allongé Stretched out or made longer.

Aplomb Stability of the position.

Arabesque The body supported on one leg with the other leg extended behind.

Assemblé Assembled, A jump which is launched from one foot and landed on both feet.

Attitude The dancer stands on supporting leg while the other leg is lifted with the knee bent.

Avant “Forwards”, to the front

 

B

Balancé Executed in three counts “down, up, down” fondu, relevé, fondu.

Balançoire “Seesaw”, with grands battements or attitudes, a dancer swings a leg front and back.

Ballabile “Danceable”, a dance performed by the corps de ballet.

Ballerina Italian for “Female dancer”

Ballerino Italian for “Male dancer”.

Balletomane A ballet fan or enthusiast.

Ballon “To bounce”

Barre Bar

Battement A beating movement

battement développé the leg is first lifted to retiré position, then fully extended passing through attitude position.

battement fondu is a battement from a fondu both knees bent, working foot on the cou-de-pied and extends until both legs are straight..

battement frappé is a battement where the foot moves from a flexed or ‘cou-de-pied’ position before striking out.

battement glissé rapid battement normally taken to 3 centimeters off the floor

battement lent is a slow battement, normally taken as high as possible

battement tendu is a battement where the extended foot never leaves the floor.

battement tendu jeté is a battement normally taken to anywhere from 2 cm off the floor up to 45 degrees.

grand battement “throws” the leg as high as possible, keeping it straight, while the supporting leg also remains straight.

grand battement en cloche is a grand battement which continuously forwards and backwards passing through the first position.

petit battement is a battement action where the bending action is at the knee, while the upper leg and thigh remain still.

Batterie steps involving turns and jumps

Battu To beat, Any step that adds an extra beat before finishing is considered battu.

Brisé “Broken” A jump of one leg is thrust from the fifth position to the second position in the air; the second leg reaches the first in mid-air executing a beat.

Bras Croisé “Crossed arms” one arm is extended the second position away from the audience and the other is curved in first position front.

Bravura An elaborate style of dance that involves a lot of showy steps during a key solo.

Bourrée Often done on pointe, the movement gives the look of gliding

 

C

Cabriole “Caper”, An allegro step in which the extended legs are beaten in the air.

Chaînés is a series of quick turns on alternating feet with progression, or chain.

Changement “Changing”, A jump in which the feet change positions in the air.

Chassé “To chase”, A slide forwards, backwards, or sideways with both legs bent, then springing into the air with legs meeting and straightened.

Cloche, en “As a bell”, To grand battements executed continuously devant and derrière through the first position

Coda “Tail”, As in music, a Coda is a passage which brings a movement or a separate piece to a conclusion usually the “Finale”.

Côté, de Sideways

Coupé “To cut” from a sur le cou de pied front to sur le cou de pied back or vice versa.

Couru “To run” small quick steps; in most cases calves are kept together and feet are in a tight fifth.

Corps de ballet The ensemble of a ballet company.

Croisé, croisée “Crossed” The body is placed at an oblique angle to the audience. The leg crossed to the front.

 

D

Danseur The official term for a male ballet dancer.

Danseur noble A highly accomplished male ballet dancer.

Danseuse The official term for female ballet dancers. The term for just any general female ballet dancers is mostly ballerinas, even though it is technically inaccurate.

Deboulé A fast sequence of half turns performed by stepping onto one leg, and completing the turn by stepping onto the other.

Demi Detourné A half turn executed on both feet.

Degagé To disengage. The foot slightly leaves the floor.

Demi “Half”, Applied to plié and pointe.

Derrière To the back side

Dessous “Under”

Dessus “Over”

Devant “Front”

Développé The leg is first lifted to retiré position, then fully extended passing through attitude position.

Double Making two of the movement.

 

E

Écarté “Discard”, the body facing downstage on a diagonal and points the downstage leg in second position.

Échappé “Escaped”. A movement done from a closed position to an open (second or fourth) position.

Effacé, efface “Erased” or “Obscured”, One of the directions of épaulement in which the dancer stands at an oblique angle to the audience .

Elevé “Rise”

En “In”

En croix “In the shape of a cross”

En dedans Movement within a circle so that the leg starts at the back or the side and moves towards the front.

En dehors “Outwards”. Movement within a circle so that the leg starts at the front or the side and moves towards the back.

Entrechat A step of beating in which the dancer jumps into the air and rapidly crosses the legs before and behind.”

Entrée can refer to the opening number in a suite of dances known as the Grand Pas

Épaulement “Shouldering” Rotation of the shoulders and head relative to the hips in a pose or a step.

 

F

Faille The dancer springs into the air, landing on the front foot with the back foot raised. The back foot then slides through to the front.

Fish dive The danseuse is supported by the danseur in a poisson position. He may hold her above his head in a horizontal fish dive or she may fall from a sitting position on his shoulder and be caught in a fish dive.

Fondu “To melt”, Bending the knee of the supporting leg.

Fouetté “Whipped”, The term indicates either a turn with a quick change in the direction of the working leg as it passes in front of or behind the supporting leg.

Fouetté jeté “Whipped throw”. A leap which starts as a fouetté and then the second leg also kicks in front.

Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant A turn made by using a fouetté.

Frappé “Strike”

 

G

Glissade “To glide”

Grand écart “Great gap”

Grand plié A full plié, or bending of the knees.

Grand jeté A jump making the splits in the air.

Grand Pas and Grand Pas d’action “Big or large step” consists of the Entreé, the Grand adage, occasionally a dance for the corps de ballet. Grand pas de deux: a Grand pas which serves as the Pièce de résistance for the principal male and female characters.

 

H

Hortensia Saut-de-chat in Checchetti. The dancer while in mid-air, bends both legs up two retires bringing the feet up as high as possible, with knees apart sideways forming a diamond shape.

 

J

Jeté is a jump from one foot to the other similar to a leap.

 

O

Ouvert, ouverte “Open”

 

P

Partnering pas de deux, or dance for two.

Pas “Step”

Pas de basque “Step of the Basques”. Halfway between a step and a leap, taken on the floor (glissé) or with a jump.

Pas de bourrée Behind, side, front

Pas de chat “The step of the cat”, The dancer jumps sideways, and while in mid-air, bends both legs up (two retirés) bringing the feet up as high as possible, with knees apart.

Italian pas de chat Also called grand pas de chat, where the front leg extends with a developpé and the back remains in passé until landing.

Pas de cheval “Step of the horse”

Pas de deux “Step of two”

Pas de poisson “Step of the fish”

Pas de valse “Waltz step”

Passé “To pass”

Petit saut A small jump.

Piqué “Pricked”, A movement in which the toe of the lifted and extended leg sharply lowers to hit the floor then rebounds.

Pirouette “Turn”

Plié “Bent”

Pointe technique or Pointe work Performing steps while on the tips of the toes

Port de bras “Carriage of the arms”

Posé A term of the Cecchetti school. From a fondu, the dancer steps with a straight leg into demi-pointe or pointe, then brings the working leg into a coupé, so that, if the step is repeated, the leg will execute a petit developpé.

Pulling Up A dancer lift the ribcage and sternum but keeps the shoulders relaxed and centered over the hips using abdominal muscles.

 

Q

Quatre  “Four”

Quatrième “Fourth”                                                                                                            

 

R

Renversé An attitude presented on a turn.

Relevé “Lifted”

Retiré position The working leg is raised to the side.

Retiré devant The working leg is raised just in front of the knee cap and bent and to the side.

Revoltade A bravura jump in which one lands on the leg from which one pushes off after that leg travels around the other leg lifted to 90 degrees.

Rond de jambe “Circle of the leg”

Rond de jambe à terre Straightened leg with pointed toe remaining on the ground to sweep around.

Rond de jambe en l’air In the air, the leg is lifted to the side, movement is only below the knee draws an oval approximately between the knee of the support leg and the second position in the air.

Rond de jambe attitude The leg is swung around from the front around to the side into attitude position behind as the supporting foot goes en pointe.

Demi-grand rond de jambe The leg is straightened and sustained horizontal to make the circle to the side. If not reversed, foot returns past the knee.

Grand rond de jambe The leg is straightened and sustained at grand battement height, with the foot making the circle high

 

S

Sauté “Jump”

Saut de chat A jump splits with the front leg extends with a développé.

Second position, seconde Second position of the leg

Serré

Sissonne A jump done from two feet to one foot. Named after the originator of the step.

Sissonne doublée

Sissonne fermée

Sissonne ouverte

Soutenu en tournant Similar to tours chaînés, a soutenu is a series of turns in quick succession

Soubresaut A jump from both feet.

Sous sous “Under”

Split A split of the legs to a straight 180 degree.

Sur le cou-de-pied “On the neck of the foot”

 

T

Tendu “Stretched”

Temps levé From the Cecchetti vocabulary, meaning “Time raised”.

Temps levé sauté From the Russian vocabulary, meaning “Time raised jumped”.

Temps lié The transfer of weight from one leg to another.

Temps de cuisse

Temps de fleche

Tours en l’air “Turn in the air”

Tombé The act of falling.

Triple Runs One big step, followed by two little steps.

Turn-out, turnout A rotation of the leg from the hips causing the knee and foot to turn outward.

Tutu The classic ballet skirt.

 

U–Z

Waltz Involves three steps each count of the “and one, two, three”. The step begins on the right foot and brushing the left forward into degagé then stepping left, right in demi-pointe .