SAF Dance Ballet Dictionary

Please continue to check back as more Content will be added
Here is an overall Quick look at some of the ballet Terms and positions as well as how to say them.

Assemble
Assemble
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.
Grand Assemblé en Tournant
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.
avant, en
screenshot-2019-08-04-15-27-06
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.
balancé
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.
BallottéTossed. 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.
Battement, grand
grahn bat-MAHN]- 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.
battement dégagé
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).
battement en cloche, grand. [grahn bat-MAHN ahn klawsh]- 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 développé [bat-MAHN fawn-DEW dayv-law-PAY]-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.
brisé
[bree-ZAY]- 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.
cabriole
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.
chaînés [sheh-NAY]- 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.
changement de pieds
[shahnzh-MAHN duh pyay]- 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.

SAF Dance Ballet Dictionary

Remember to check back each week there will be a new list of terms and exsamples for you to study.

Here is an overall Quick look at some of the ballet Terms and positions as well as how to say them.

Assemble

– 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.

Assemblé en tournant, grand-

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.
Attitude- 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.
avant, en- 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.
balancé-  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.

 

Ballon-

paypal_checkout

 

(No Video Avalible)

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.
Ballotté-  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.
battement. [bat-MAHN] -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

 

.
battement dégagé

[bat-MAHN day-ga-ZHAY]- 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).
battement en cloche, grand. [grahn bat-MAHN ahn klawsh]- 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 développé [bat-MAHN fawn-DEW dayv-law-PAY]-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.

battement tendu

[bat-MAHN tahn-DEW]- 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.

Battement, grand
[grahn bat-MAHN]- 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.

 

brisé

[bree-ZAY]- 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.

brisé volé.

  [bree-ZAY vaw-LAY]- 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.
cabriole [ka-bree-AWL]- 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.
chaînés [sheh-NAY]- 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.
changement de pieds [shahnzh-MAHN duh pyay]- 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.
chassé [sha-SAY]- Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series.
coupé jeté en tournant [koo-PAY zhuh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN]-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.
croisé, croisée [kmJah-ZAY]- 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.

 

croix, en

 

 

[ahn krwah]-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)
dedans, en – [ahn duh-DAHN]-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.
dehors, en [ahn duh-AWR]-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.
demi-plié [duh-MEE-plee-AY]-Half-bend of the knees. All steps of elevation begin and end with a demi-plié. See Plié.
Derrière [deh-RYEHR]- 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.
échappé [ay-sha-PAY]- 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.

fouetté [fweh-TAY]- 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.

glissade -[glee-SAD]-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.
jeté [zhuh-TAY]-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 battu- [zhuh-TAY ba-TEW]- Jeté beaten. Both jeté dessus and jeté dessous may be beaten.
Manèges [ma-NEZH]- Circular. A term applied to steps or enchaînements executed in a circle.

ouvert, ouverte [oo-VEHR, oo-VEHRT]-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 chat [pah duh shah]- Cat’s-step. The step owes its name to the likeness of the movement to a cat’s leap.
Piqué- [pee-KAY]- 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.
plié [plee-AY]- 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.

port de bras [pawr duh brah]: Carriage of the arms
relevé [ruhl-VAY]- 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.
retiré [ruh-tee-RAY]: 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 à terre [rawn duh zhahnb a tehr]: 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.

rond de jambe en l’air [rawn duh zhahnb ahn lehr]: 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.

royale [ruah-YAL]: 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.
saut de basque  [soh duh bask]: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.
sauté, sautée :[soh-TAY]- 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 [see-SAWN]-
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.

tour en l’air- [toor ahn lehr]- 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.

tournant, en [ahn toor-NAHN]-Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé en tournant.

 
 
Join our e-mail list
Get the latest content on Men's Class, Partnering and Jumps and Turns Classes
We respect your privacy.