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Ballet Dictionary Adagio ADAGE (French), ADAGIO (Italian) Adage is a French word derived from the Italian ad agio,

meaning at ease or leisure. English ballet teachers use "adage," the French adaptation, while Americans prefer the original Italian. In dancing it has two meanings: (1) A series of exercises following the centre practice, consisting of a succession of slow and graceful movements which may be simple or of the most complex character, performed with fluidity and apparent ease. These exercises develop a sustaining power, sense of line, balance and the beautiful poise. The principal steps of adagio are plis, dvelopps, grand fouett en tournant, dgags, grand rond de jambe, rond de jambe en l'air, coups, battements tendus, attitudes, arabesques, preparations for pirouettes and all types of pirouettes. (2) The opening section of the classical pas de deux, in which the ballerina assisted by her male partner, performs the slow movements and enlvements in which the danseur lifts, supports or carries the danseuse. Allegro The third part of a ballet class: fast work, jumps, turns. Usually divided into petit (little) allegro and grand (big)allegro. elongated. With the arms stretched out as far as possible. One of the basic poses in ballet. A pose with one leg stretched straight out to the back and one arm usually stretched out to the front. 1st arabesque

Allong Arabesque

2nd arabesque

3rd arabesque

4th arabesque


Assembled, also called Pas Assembl. A jump: pli, brushing working leg out. Bring both legs together ("assemble" them) while in midair; land on both feet. The brush can be to the front, the side, or the back.


A pose. The working leg is raised. In attitude to the front or the back, if the angle is 90 degrees, the calf should be as nearly horizontal as possible. The supporting foot may be 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. There are a number of attitudes according to the position of the body in relation to the audience. 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. For a balanc to the right, start in fifth position. On count of 1-2-3, right foot goes out to the side and the weight is transferred to it (1). Immediately bring left foot behind right and and transfer the weight to the ball of the left foot while rising up on it (2). Put your weight back on the right foot flat on the floor (not raised up) (3). A balanc to one side is almost always followed by a balanc to the other side. Balancs can also be done to the front and back or turning. Short for battements en balanoire. The dancer swings the working leg vigorously back and forth between fourth position front and fourth back, through first position. Unlike grand battements en cloche, balanoires do not require that



the body be held straight. Ballon A jump. From 5th position, right foot front, demi-pli while the right foot glides n to 2nd position at 45 degrees. Jump with left while traveling in the air towards the right foot. Land on left foot with the right having come in to the position sur le cou-de-pied front. Repeat by throwing the right foot out to the side again from the position sur le cou-de-pied. Can be done in many different directions.

Ballo A jump. Begin in 5th, right leg front. Spring straight upward with both legs held tt tightly together, as the body begins to tilt slightly backward at the apex of the jump. The body lands on the left foot while the right is thrown open to the front. Repeat backwards, with a slight tilt to the front at the apex of the jump.


battement - beating. A generic term for various movements in

which the leg is extended and then returned. See grand battement and petit battement. This is also one of those words (like pas and temps) that are frequently omitted and understood; thus, for example, frapp is short for battement frapp, etc. In this list, look under the second word (e.g.,, under frapp, not under battement frapp. The only exception to this is battement tendu. Tendu battement tendu - stretched beat. ("Tendu" for short.) Slide the working foot out until only the toes are touching the floor; then slide it back. An important exercise for learning to move the foot quickly and gracefully while maintaining placement. Balanchine considered it the most important exercise in all of ballet. A position on stage in which the dancer faces one of the front corners with the legs crossed. The disengaged leg may be crossed in the front or in the back. One of the directions of paulement. Escaping or slipping movement. An chapp is a level opening of both feet from a closed to an open position. There are two kinds of chapps: chapp saut, which is done with a spring from the fifth position and finishes in a demi-pli in the open position, and chapp sur les pointes, or demipointes, which is done with a relev and has straight knees when in the open position. In each case chapps are done to the second or fourth position, both feet traveling an equal distance from the original center of gravity. A jump in which the dancer's legs cross each other--from fifth in front to fifth in back--several times in the air. The number of crossings is indicated by a number after the word, and each crossing is counted twice (once for going out from fifth and once for returning to fifth). In even-numbered entrechats, the dancer lands on both feet, in fifth. In odd- numbered ones, the dancer lands with one foot sur le cou-de-pied. For example, in entrechat quatre the dancer starts in fifth position. If the right foot is in front, he jumps, changes his feet to left foot in front and back, and lands with the right foot in front again. 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 fouetts: petit

Crois, croise (crossed)


Entrechat (braided, interwoven)


fouett, which may be devant, la seconde or derrire and executed terre, sur la demi-pointe or saut; and grand fouett, which may be saut, relev and en tournant. Frapp (struck) or battement frapp, "struck beat". Working foot rests lightly on the ankle of the supporting foot. Throw the working leg forcefully out to a dgag position so that it strikes the floor 1/3 of the way out. Hold the leg out as long as possible, returning it to its initial position at the last moment. (Russian frapps start in tendu, darting to the supporting leg and back out again.) Can be done to the front, side, or back. 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 terre step and is used to link other steps. After a demi-pli 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-pli. 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-pli. There are six glissades: devant, derrire, dessous, dessus, en avant, en arrire, the difference between them depending on the starting and finishing positions as well as the direction. Glissade may also be done sur les pointes.

Glissade (glide)

Rond de jambe

Round of the leg, a circular movement of the leg. Ronds de jambe are used as an exercise at the bar, in the centre and in the adage, and are done a terre or en l'air. When used as a

step, ronds de jambe are done en l'air and may be saute or releve. All are done clockwise (en dehors) and counterclockwise (en dedans). Rond de jambe a terre Rond de jambe on the ground. An exercise at the bar 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 a terre: those done en dedans (inward) and those done en dehors (outward). Rond de jambe en l'air Rond de jambe in the air. 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.

Port de bras
"Carriage of the arms and head." Movement of the arms in a motion around the body. The basic port de bras moves from bras bas to first position of the arms, to second position of the arms, then back down to bras bas. A full port de bras moves from bras bas to first to fifth, down through second and back to bras bas.


The movement, pass, usually refers to the working foot passing close to the knee of the standing leg and can be done by the front or back foot withdrawing from the floor, as in fifth position, and performing the retir movement(this movement is literally the 'withdrawing') and when the foot arrives by the knee of the standing leg it passes and continues its movement either to return to the floor by sliding down the back (or front depending on where it started the movement) of the standing leg or into an arabesque or attitude or variations thereof depending if the pass foot is coming from the back or front. The term, pass, has also come into popular usage for the position in which the foot is placed near or on the knee.

One of the most famous ballet movements; this is where the dancer spins around on demi-pointe or pointe on one leg. The other leg can be in various different positions; the standard one being retir. Others include the leg in attitude, and grand battement level, second position. They can also finish in arabesque or attitude positions. A pirouette can be en dehors - turning outwards, starting with both legs in plie, or en dedans - turning inwards.

Literally, movement or a step. A pas d'une is a dance for one, a pas de deux is a dance for two.

Pas de chat - "step of the cat". This involves the dancer jumping sideways, and whilst in mid-air, bending both legs back up to touch the top of their buttocks while the knees are apart. The position sustained in mid-air is similar to the "butterfly" stretching position. The Dance of the Cygnets from Swan Lake involves sixteen pas de chat, performed by four dancers holding hands with their arms interlaced. Pas de basque - a grand movement ("step of the Basques") which is halfway between a step and a leap, and can be taken strictly on the floor (gliss) or with a jump (saut)and can be done moving toward the front or toward the back. Pas de bourre - three quick steps, when done to the a la seconde the feet usually switch derrier positions (right left right). Pas de cheval- (literally: step of the horse) where the dancer does a coup then a small developp and tendus back into starting position. Pas de poisson- (literally: step of the fish) requires the dancer to begin from two feet in fifth position, and jump, arching the back with the legs straightened behind, so that the body resembles a fish jumping out of water. This position may also be used in partnering work. Pas de valse - waltz step. A travelling step done to music in 3/4 time, which can be done either straight or turning (en tournant).


Literal meaning: changing, or, to change. A jump in which the feet change positions in the air. For example, beginning in the fifth position with the right foot front, pli and jump, switching the left foot into the front and the right to the back, landing with the left foot in front, fifth position.

Chass, literal meaning - to chase or to hunt. A slide with both legs bent either forwards, backwards or sideways and meeting in the air straightened. It can be done either in a gallop (like children pretending to ride a horse) or by pushing the first foot along the floor in a plie' and springing into the air where both legs meet stretched.

This is a common abbreviation for "tours chans dbouls", which is a series of quick turns on alternating feet with progression along a straight line or circle. In classical ballet it is done on the pointes or demi-pointes (on the balls of the feet).

This is a kicking movement of the working leg (i.e. the leg that is performing a technique)

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battement tendu jet (Russian school) is a battement normally taken to anywhere from 2 cm off the floor up to 45 degrees, depending on the style. It is the same as battement dgag (Cecchetti) or battement gliss (French school). battement fondu is a battement (usually slower) from a fondu (both knees bent) position and extends until both legs are straight. battement frapp is a battement where the foot moves from a flexed position next to the other ankle, and extends out to a straight position, by doing so hitting the floor (the so-called frapp). In the Russian school the foot is wrapped around the ankle, rather than flexed and does not strike the floor. battement gliss is a rapid battement normally taken to 2-3 centimeters off the floor (literally means a gliding battement). See battement tendu jet. battement lent a slow battement, normally taken as high as possible, which involves considerable control and strength. battement tendu is a battement where the extended foot never leaves the floor. The working foot slides forward or sideways from the fifth or first position to reach the forth or second position, lifting the heel off the floor and stretching the instep. It forms the preparation for many other positions, such as the ronds de jambe and pirouette positions.

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petit battement, a battement action where the bending action is at the knee, while the upper leg and thigh remain still. grande battement, a powerful battement action where the dancer takes the leg as high as they can, while the supporting leg remains straight. grande battement en cloche, a grande battement which continuously "swishes" forwards and backwards (literally in large battement with pendulum movement)It still has to turn out in ballet unless the instructor prefers not for you to turn-out.

This is the French word for a jump. Sauts include:

Petits sauts - these are small jumps where the feet don't change positions mid-air. Echapps sauts - (literally a ripping jump) these are jumps where the legs jump up together, but split apart mid-air and land in second position. Changements - these are sauts where the feet change position, i.e. front and back feet swap, whilst still very close together, mid air. Entrechats quatres - this is like a changement but involves a rapid beating of the feet, where the front leg moves to the back and then moves back to the front, creating a rapid, blurring effect of the feet mid-air.