Terms & Definitions:


First position: 

  The heels are together with the toes of each foot pointed out toward either side, with legs straight and turned out, following the position of the feet.

Second position: 

  Legs are straight and the feet are turned out to each side like in first position, but the difference is that the heels do not touch and are instead about hip-width apart.

Third position: 

  This position is rarely used, since it can be mistaken for a sloppy first or fifth position, but it is still important to learn. Begin in first position, and then slide the heel of one foot so it lines up with the middle of the other foot, keeping both feet pointing out in opposite directions.

Fourth position:

   Stand with one foot about a foot’s length in front of your other foot. Each foot should be pointing in an opposite direction, and the toes of the back foot should line up with the heel of the front foot.

Fifth position:

   This position is the most difficult one. It’s like fourth position, but there is no gap between your feet. The toes of each foot should be directly in front of the heel of the other foot, and make sure your legs are turned out and straight.


  Arabesque is one of the most popular basic Ballet moves. It is a position supported on one leg, which can be straight or in demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various positions creating the longest possible lines from the fingertips outward. It can be found in almost every classical and modern Ballet today.



  It is a standing position on one leg with the other leg lifted in the front or the back with 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.


  Means “beating”. There are two types of battements, grands battements and petits battements. It is when a dancer extends his/her leg to the front, back or side.


Rocking step. The weight is shifted from one foot to the other.


  This is a move that is performed on your half-toe, whereby the first leg pulls the other leg in tightly - in very small and quick steps.


  Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other out of its position. (shaSay)


  Means “Chains, links”. This is the most simple term for “turns”. The dancer performs a series of traveling turns by quick steps that involve alternating feet.


  Means “Change of feet”. After a jump, the dancer will change feet in the air and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot in the front. They are done petit and grand.


  Means “to chase”. It is where one foot extends out in front and then the back foot chases the front foot and very quickly the front foot shoots out again forward. They are usually done in series.



  To escape - moving from 5th to 2nd position by sliding the feet to the ball of the foot - or as a jump.

Pas de chat

  Means “Cat’s-step”. It is a step resembling how a cat jumps. First one foot jumps up and then the other one immediately follows into a jump as well. For a moment both legs in the air are in passés before coming down.


  Means “Bent, bending”. One of the most famous moves in Ballet. It refers to the bending of the knee or knees with strong turn out from feet, knees and hips. They are typically done in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th positions in classical ballet, both at the barre and center in classes.

Port de bras

  Means “movement of the arms”. A movement or series of movements made by passing the arm or arms through various positions. Usually there are many exercises to help dancers master graceful arm movements. For example, if a ballerina moves her arms from first position to fifth position, that is considered a port de bras.


  Means “rising”. It is the rising on the toes or the balls of feet (on point or demi pointe). Relevé may be done in the first, second, fourth or fifth position and many other positions. Releves can be done very quickly with sharp springs or with slow graceful style.

Ront de jambe

  It is the circle of the leg. Ronds de jambe are used as an exercise at the bar and in the center. It is when the weight is on one leg and the working leg makes a circle inward or outward.


 To extend the leg straight out from supporting leg with foot fully pointed - front, side or back.