Ballet Positions Of The Body

There are eight positions of the body in the Cecchetti method and there are eleven in the French and Russian (Vaganova) methods. The difference is that in the French and Russian methods,  Ecarte Devant and Derrierre, Efface Devant and efface Derriere and Epaule Devante and Epaule Derriere and considered separate positions where as in the Cecchetti method they are considered one position in themselves. We will be discussing the body positions in the Cecchetti method.

These positions are in themselves a study in line and point of  audience view and those correct executions should be applied to all steps in ballet combinations. All of the body positions may be taken a terre (touching the floor) or en l’air (raised)

Basic body positions Cecchetti method
Croise devant  – crossed in front  (krwah-ZAY  duh-VANH)
A la quartieme devant – to the fourth front (ah la ka-tree-EM  duh-VAHN)
Ecarte – thrown wide apart, separated (ay-kar-TAY)
Efface – shaded (eh -fa -SAY)
A la seconde – to the second (ah la suh-GAWND)
Epaule – shouldered (ay-poh- LAY)
A  la quatrieme derriere – to the fourth back (ah la ka-tree-EM  deh-RYEHR)
Croise derriere -crossed in back (krwah-ZAH  deh-RYEHR)

In the descriptions below all walls and corners are in the Cecchetti method a well as reference to arabesques.

1. Croise Devant
The dancer stands facing either corner 1 or corner 2.  The leg nearer to the audience is pointed in the fourth position front either a terre or en l’ air with the arm on the same side as that the leg that is extended  in in a low second and the arm on the same side as the supporting leg is lifted en haut (ahn oh) high, rounded above the head. The body and head are slightly inclined toward the low arm

 

 

 

2. Quatrieme Devant
A term that is implying that the foot is to be pointed in fourth position front. The dancer stands facing the audience, wall 5.The arms out outstretched at the sides in second position and either leg is pointed to fourth position, either a terre or en l’air front.

 

 

 

3. Efface
The dancer stands facing either corner 1 or 2.  The leg further from the audience is pointed in fourth position front, toward the corner, this is working leg. The arm on the same side as the supporting leg is lifted en haut (ahn oh) high, rounded above the head. The other arm is in low second  being on the same side as the working leg. The body leans lightly back from the waist and head is inclined toward the high arm. 

 

 

 4. a la Seconde
The dancer is facing the audience, wall 5. The working leg is extended and pointed to second position, with the arms in second position (open) and the head facing the audience. This position  is also referred as a la seconde en face.

 

 

 

5. Croise Derriere
The dancer stands facing either corner 1 or corner 2. The leg further from the audience is pointed in fourth position back either a terre or en l’ air with the arm that is in low second  being on the same side as the leg that is extended and the arm on the same side as the supporting leg is lifted en haut (ahn oh) high, rounded above the head. The body and head are slightly inclined toward the low arm

 

 

6. Ecarte
The dancer is facing corner 1 or 2. The leg nearer to the audience (wall 5) is the working leg and is pointed in second position. The arm on the same side as the supporting leg that is in low second  and the arm on the same side as the working leg is lifted en haut (ahn oh) high, rounded above the head. The head is raised slightly and turned towards the rised arm so that the eyes look in the the palm of the hand.

 

 

 

7. Epaule
The dancer is standing facing corner 1 or 2  and is actually in second arabesque. The shoulders are held square to the corner and the arm nearer the audience is extended forward and the corresponding leg is extended to the fourth position back a terre or en l’a ir. The head is inclined and turned toward the audience. 

 

 

8. Quatrieme Derriere
A term that is implying that the foot is to be placed in fourth position back. The dancer stands facing the audience, wall 5. The arms out outstretched at the sides in second position and either leg is pointed to fourth position either a terre or en l’air back.

A larger diagram is included in the pages section of the Balletclassroom blog for easy reference. All ballet students, need to memorize and know these positions for ease in learning choreography.

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