Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Resource for Dance Vocabulary

One of our readers mentioned that this blog was throwing around a lot of ballet terms that are probably unfamiliar to most people, such as the names of steps and positions. Here's a good place to look up what they mean:

This site gives you the translations of the French terms for many common ballet steps along with a photo or video demonstration of a dancer executing them. There's a lovely picture of Susan Jaffe performing an arabesque and a penche, so you can see what I was trying to describe a couple of days ago.


  1. Thanks,Gavin. I've visited this sight and it is indeed a great resource. Here is another question related to the intricate "secrets" of ballet. As a complete novice, it seems to me that there are steps, and then there are the little bits of fancy footwork dancers to to GET to the steps. Is this a correct observation? If so, Where, how and when do you learn this?

  2. You're right, Susan, there are a lot of what we call "transition steps" that link together many of the more recognizable ballet steps and positions. Some of them have names, like faille, glissade, and temps de cuisse, but a lot of the time we don't even call the transition steps anything at all. There's a lot of plain walking and running, and we learn how to do those things with a balletic style so that they blend in with the rest of the choreography.