Ballet Walks…It’s Not Just Walking


Teaching a dancer to walk like a dancer is almost as hard as teaching a toddler to walk….Well at least the dancer has somewhat of an idea of how to stand up in the first place. Beginning to teach a dancer to walk in a portion of choreography, is like trying to break an old habit. The dancer needs to change from heel first walking to toes first walking. They also need to change from a parallel placed step to a turned out place step. The dancer needs to feel, along with proper turn out, their weight distribution, the transfer of weight from one foot to the other and most important, proper body alignment. With all of this, the dancer also needs to know how the choreographer wants the arms, hands and head and the timing to the music. Sounds like a lot of work for just walking.

Walking in dance must begin with the dancer knowing how to correctly pointe and stretch the foot. Dancers attempting to place the foot properly on the floor is actually the second part of the walk. This important part aspect with the knowledge of a correct battement tendu . The beat of the leg with proper turnout from the hip and the stretch of the foot. With out this embedded in the dancer, the result will be just plain walking.

Ballet walks can originate from any position. Many choreographers like to begin with attitude derriere a terre, or B+ position, for a more advanced dancer’s look. For the beginner dancer, when adding ballet walks to a piece of choreography, I like to begin with pointe tendu devant. This position gives the dancer a thought of beginning with the stretch in the foot. The transfer of weight to that working foot is through the toes, ball of the foot (metatarsals) and then heel while the back foot releases the weight though the heel, ball of the foot and toes. The body lifts and hopefully appears floating, above the smooth transfer of weight as the dancer moves though the space that is given.

Port de bras is essential for ballet walks. Without it the step has no creativity. Beginning with arms at 5th en bas and using Cecchetti first port de bras, is a nice beginning appearance.

Cecchetti first port de bras is as such:

     Beginning with arms 5th en bas:

     Raise the arms to 5th position en avant

     Open the arms to 2nd position

From this introductory port de bras, the arms may be brought to various different positions as the dancer is moving across the floor.

Ballet walks can be a great linking step to change a formation when used with correct and graceful arms. To make plain walking beautiful, some things to remember are:

-Extending the leg and turn out the foot before the weight is transferred.

-Walk with correct body alignment, pulled up and lifted

-Walk with one foot in front of the other, so at the foot is place in the 4th position

When you walk like a princess or prince you will appear as one….

5 thoughts on “Ballet Walks…It’s Not Just Walking

  1. I find your blog fascinating. My 7 year old niece just started ballet lessons, and while I was never a dancer, I find the whole world of dance so interesting. I can relate to what you say in this post, though because I sing in my church choir, and our director is always saying that the way you sing things and the way you say things are two completely different things. If you sing like you talk it’s just a bunch of mush, so you almost have to exagerate your enunciation to the point where it sounds silly so the words will sound normal when sung.

  2. I find your blog fascinating. My 7 year old niece just started ballet lessons and she loves them:) I was never a dancer, but as a musician I love the music from all the classical ballets and the stories behind them. This post reminds me of how my choir director is always telling us that singing and talkign are two different things. You don’t sing like you talk or else the words turn to mush. You have to enunciate almost to the point of sounding silly so the words sound normal when you sing them. It does make all the difference, and like you said, it does take retraining your mind a bit so it becomes second nature.

    • jenn, thank you for your kind words and I hope this blog proves of interest to your niece also. if you have the time she may enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing about steps she learns in class.

  3. Oops, sorry for the double post – I thought my computer didn’t post the first one:) Anyway I’ll let my sister and mom know about the blog since they set the rules about her computer use. Still you’d be amazed at how much she relies on computers already – her teachers don’t even give homework assignments anymore. It’s up to the students to check their teacher’s blog and get them. Well at least she has ballet to keep her grounded in the classics.:)

    • No problem on the double post, they were worded differently any way….Computers have their good and bad points. I tryed to keep to “classics” with my own 3 children. We homeschooled, so their education was totally under my wing and my approvals. Classical at its best! : )

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