7 Key Insights into Ballet Terminology Guide with Visuals

Exploring Ballet Lexicon

The elegant art form of ballet is synonymous with its unique lexicon, derived from French origins. This specialized vocabulary is pivotal for dancers to master the nuances and for connoisseurs to fully appreciate the delicate maneuvers presented in performances.

Core Ballet Lexicon

Fundamental to ballet are specific terminologies that describe each meticulous movement:

  • Plié: The foundational act of bending one’s knees gracefully, serving as a precursor to more dynamic movements.
  • Tendu: A deliberate stretch of the leg and foot away from the body, still in contact with the ground.
  • Jeté: A leap starting with one leg ‘thrown’ forward, landing gracefully on the same leg.
  • Pirouette: A whirl or spin around on a single foot, usually with the free leg lifted in retiré position.

Essential Foot Positions

The foundational five positions of the feet serve as the basis for ballet’s intricate movements:

  • First Position: Heels join with toes pointing outward, creating a line.
  • Second Position: Standing with feet apart, heels in line and toes outstretched, echoing the first.
  • Third Position: One foot positioned in front of the other, heel to arch alignment.
  • Fourth Position: Akin to third but with a foot’s distance between.
  • Fifth Position: The most tightened stance, with one foot’s heel meeting the other’s toe.

Barre Routines and Drills

Barre exercises are essential for warming up and enhancing form:

  • Battement Frappé: A quick striking of the foot, honing precision.
  • Fondue: An expressive bend of both the working and supporting legs.
  • Rond de Jambe: Leg circles performed either on the ground or mid-air.

Ballet Terminology Guide

Adagio Versus Allegro

Ballet distinguishes between the poised adagio movements and the vibrant allegro steps:

  • Adagio: A showcase of fluidity, control, requiring poise and strength.
  • Allegro: In contrast, allegro signifies spirited actions, encompassing various jumps like Assemblé, Sissonne, and Entrelacé.

Spins and Twirls

Turning figures prominently in choreography, demanding finesse and accuracy:

  • Chaînés: A sequence of swift spins performed en pointe or demi-pointe.
  • Piqué Turn: A turn initiated by stepping sharply onto one elevated foot.

Elevated Jumps and Jetés

Leaps lend an exhilarating aspect to ballet numbers:

  • Grand Jeté: An extensive jump featuring a mid-air split.
  • Cabriole: A jump where the dancer’s legs beat together above the ground.

The Art of Pointe

Dancers revel in pointe work, executing moves on their toes with the aid of specialized footwear:

  • Sous-sus: A precise relevé in fifth position on pointe, showcasing crossed legs.
  • Échappé Sur Les Pointes: Transitioning from closed to open stance while en pointe.

Collaborative Pas De Deux

Ballet also encompasses pas de deux, in which typically two dancers engage in partner work:

  • Promenade: A gradual rotation supporting a partner in a static pose.
  • Lift: The act of one dancer raising another off the stage.

In the middle of our exploration, we find essential ballet spin terms and their mastery to be a crucial element for dancers to refine their artistry.


This comprehensive Ballet Terminology Guide with visual accompaniments is crafted to enrich the understanding of ballet’s rich vocabulary, assisting dancers in their training and helping audiences to value the complex artistry showcased during performances.

Discover more about ballet terms through this Wikipedia page.

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