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Created by Jessica Metzger

Terms

The following are some of the common terms used in the teaching and practice of ballet. The terms are found at the American Ballet Theatre's Ballet Dictionary. Go there for further study.

Arabesque | Attitude | Côté, de | Développé| Pas de deux | Pirouette (with video)

Arabesque

[a-ra-BESK]

One of the basic poses in ballet, arabesque takes its name from a form of Moorish ornament. In ballet it is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, which can be straight or demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various harmonious positions creating the longest possible line from the fingertips to the toes. The shoulders must be held square to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied to infinity. The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques; the Russian School (Vaganova), four; and the French School, two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps, both in the slow movements of adagio and the brisk, gay movements of allégro.

Attitude

Jessica demonstrating an attitude.

[a-tee-TEWD]

A particular pose in dancing derived by Carlo Blasis from the statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. It is a position on one leg with the other lifted in back, 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. There are a number of attitudes according to the position of the body in relation to the audience.

Côté, de

[duh koh-TAY]

Sideways. Used to indicate that a step is to be made to the side, either to the right or to the left.

Développé

[dayv-law-PAY]

Time developed, developing movement. Through common usage the term has become abridged to développé. A développé is a movement in which the working leg (the leg that is executing a given movement) is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg (leg which supports the body) and slowly extended to an open position en l'air (a movement to be made in the air) and held there with perfect control. The hips are kept level and square to the direction in which the dancer is facing.

Pas de deux

[pah duh duh]

Dance for two.

Pirouette

[peer-WET]

Jessica demonstrating a pirouette.

Whirl or spin. A complete turn of the body on one foot, on point or demi-pointe. Pirouettes are performed en dedans, turning inward toward the supporting leg, or en dehors, turning outward in the direction of the raised leg. The body must be well centered over the supporting leg with the back held strongly and the hips and shoulders aligned. The force of momentum is furnished by the arms, which remain immobile during the turn. The head is the last to move as the body turns away from the spectator and the first to arrive as the body comes around to the spectator, with the eyes focused at a definite point which must be at eye level. This use of the eyes while turning is called "spotting."

Terms continued