Meanings of Selected Ballet Steps

14 August 2015

Ballet consists of 7 basic movements:

  1. Plier (to bend)
  2. Étendre (to stretch)
  3. Relever (to rise)
  4. Glisser (to slide or glide)
  5. Sauter (to jump)
  6. Élancer (to dart)
  7. Tourner (to turn)

At the Barre

Terminology Meaning Link
Plie Bend How to execute Plie correctly
Tendu Stretch How to execute Tendu correctly
Jete Throw
Rond de Jambe a Terre Circling of Leg on the Floor
Frappe Strike
Fondu Melt
Petit Battement Small Beating
Adagio At ease, Leisure
Rond de Jambe en L’air Circling of the Leg in the Air
Grand Battement Big Beating
A la Seconde To the Side
Changer Change / Switch
Devant Front / In Front
En Avant Forward / To The Front
Derriere Back / Behind
En Arriere Backward / To The Back
En Croix In the Shape of a Cross
En Dehors Outwards, Away from Supporting Leg
En Dedans Inwards, Towards Supporting Leg

In the Centre

Terminology Meaning
Allegro Brisk, Lively Movement
Arabesque In Arabic fashion
Brise Broken / Breeze
Cambre Arched
Chaine Chain
Changement de pied Change of foot
Ciseaux Scissors
Cou de pied Neck of the foot, meaning ankle
Coupe Cutting
Croise Crossed
Ecarte Wide apart
Efface Shaded
En face In front
Epaulement Shouldering, with shoulder forward
Pirouette Twirl, Turn on one leg
Port de bras Carriage of arms
Promenade A walk. Abbreviated wording of Tour de promenade
Releve lent Slow lift or raise
Retire Withdrawn
Saute Jump
Sissonne Name of the person who invented this step
Tour de promenade Turn in a walk
Tour en l'air Turn in the air
Tour lent Slow turn (Vaganova terminology for Promenade or Tour de promenade.)