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

List below is not exhaustive.

Terminology
(in French)
Meaning Link
Plié Bend How to execute Plie correctly
Tendu Stretch How to execute Tendu correctly
Dégagé Disengage
Jeté Throw
Piqué / Piquer Prick
Rond de Jambe à Terre Circling of Leg on the Floor
Frappé / Frappée) Strike
Fondu Melt
Petit Battement Small Beat
Adagio At ease, Leisure
Rond de Jambe en L’air Circling of the Leg in the Air
Grand Battement Big Beat
Allongé Elongate
à la Seconde To the Second (position)
Changer Change / Switch
Devant Front / In Front
En Avant Forward / To The Front
Derriére Back / Behind
En Arriére 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

List below is not exhaustive.

Terminology
(in French)
Meaning
Allégro Brisk, Lively Movement
Arabesque In Arabic fashion
Brisé Broken / Breeze
Cambré Arched
Chainé Chain
Changement de pied Change of foot
Ciseaux Scissors
Cou de pied Neck of the foot, meaning ankle
Coupé Cutting
Croisé Crossed
Écarté Wide apart
Éffacé Shaded
En face In front
Épaulement 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
Reléve lent Slow lift or raise
Retiré Withdrawn
Sauté Jump Up
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.)