Ballet Vocabulary – October 2013

Arabesque – One of the classic poses in ballet, arabesque takes its name from a form of Moorish ornament. It is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg which can be straight or demi plie with the other leg extended behind and the arms held in various positions. The shoulders must be held squared to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied. The Ceccetti method uses five principal arabesques. The Russian or Vaganova method uses four and the French method only two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps both in the slow movement of adagio and the brisk movements of allegro.

Fouette – (fweh-tay) Whipped. A term applied to a whipping movement.

Por de bras -(pour-duh-bra) carriage of the arms

Retire – (reh-tee-ray) retired, withdrawn

Chasse – (sha-say)chased

Derriere – (deh-ree-yair) behind, back

Pique – (pee-kay) Pricked, pricking. Executed by stepping directly on the point or demi point of the working foot in any desired direction or position with the other foot raised in the air. Such as pique arabesque.

Battement -(bat-maw) beating. A beating action of the bent or extended leg

Ecarte – (ay-car-tay) separated, thrown wide apart. One of the 8 body positions

Sous-sus – (soo-sew) Under over. Sous-sus is a releve in the 5th position traveled forward, backward or to the side. The dancer springs onto the pointes, or demi pointe, drawing the legs and feet tightly together with the heel forced forward so that they give the impression of one foot.

 Assemble – (ah-sahn-blay) Assembled or joined together A step in which the working foot slides well along the ground before being swept in to the air. As the foot goes in the air the dancer pushes off the floor with the supporting leg, extending the toes. Both legs come to the ground at the same time in fifth position

Plie – (plee-ay)to bend

Ronde jambe – (ron-duh-zham) round of the leg, that is a circular movement of the leg

Changement – (shahnzh-maw) to change

En dehors – (ahn duh-oar) outward

Jete – (zheh-tay) thrown. A leap from one leg to the other in which the working leg is brushed into the air and appears to be thrown
Pas de chat – (pah-duh-sha) step of the cat

Ferme – (fehr-may) Closed. Indicates that both feet are in a closed position or that the feet at the end of a step are brought to a closed position.

Chaines -(sheh-nay) Chains, links. This is an abbreviation of the term “tours chaines deboules“: a series of rapid turns on the pointes or demi pointe done in a straight line or in a circle

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