Whether you’re new to ballet or a seasoned veteran it’s always good to learn, know and brush up on your basic ballet terms. Knowing these terms will help you to understand what your instructor is asking for during rehearsals without having to guess or wait to see what the other ballerinas are doing to follow. We have compiled a list of some solid beginner terms that every new ballerina should familiarize herself with.
Adagio: Slow, continuous, and gentle movements. It is meant to improve a dancer’s balance, strength, and lines. It is also the opening sequence of a two-person dance that includes one partner lifting the other.
Allegro: Fast and energetic movements, usually associated with jumps.
Arabesque: When the dancer stands on one leg with the other leg raised behind the body and extended in a straight line.
Barre: A horizontal wooden bar attached to the walls of the room. The barre is there to support the dancers and barre exercises are part of every ballet class.
Battement tendu: Extending your leg, brushing the leg along the floor and pointing your foot.
En pointe: Balancing on the very tips of your toes. En pointe is achieved with pointe shoes and only students that have advanced to a higher skill level will do this.
Grand jete: A forward jump with a split.
Pas de deux: A dance for two people.
Pirouette: A complete turn or series of turns on one foot, usually en pointe or demi-pointe.
Plié: Knees are bent while the legs and feet are turned out.
Ronde de Jambe: “Round of the leg.” When the dancer rests on one leg and makes a circular movement with the other leg.
Sauté: A small jump on two legs, landing on both legs.