Ballet is a classic art form which dates back for centuries and has entertained royalty and common folks both young and old. The basic ballet steps look deceptively simple, but that is only because of the highly skilled dancers who devote many hours to perfecting their art. Ballet is beautiful and graceful to watch and many young girls have dreamed of growing up to be one of the lovely ballerinas upon the stage. It all starts however, with the basic ballet steps which must be mastered to perfection before advanced moves and ballerina stardom can be achieved. Modern ballet was popularized in France by King Louis XIV, and many ballet terms are referred to by their French name to this day.
The basic ballet positions:
First Position – Premiere
The toes point out to make a V shape while the feet are in a straight line at the heels. Heels together. Knees together. Arms form a soft curve out in front of the body. The spine is kept straight with the back, pelvis, and the head in alignment.
Second Position – Second
The feet are shoulder width apart and the legs are turned out. The arms are kept rounded and out to the side.
Third Position – Troisieme
Maintain the out turned legs and cross the leg placing the heel on the middle of the other foot. If the right foot is on top then the right arm is raised in a semi circle above the head and the left arm is out to the side. Reverse the arm positions when the left foot is on top.
Fourth Position – Quatrieme
Maintain outward leg position and put the right foot in front of the left leaving about 12 inches in between. Raise the right arm over the head and curve it into a semi circle. Reverse arms if the left foot is placed in front.
Fifth Position – Cinquieme
Legs are out turned at the hips and the heel of the right foot is placed against the big toe of the left foot at the position of the first joint. The arms are formed into a circle over the head.
Below are some of the basic ballet steps:
- Arabesque Stand on the right leg while the left leg is raised straight out behind
- Chasse A galloping motion where one leg appears to chase the other.
- Emboite Move forward while jumping on alternate toes.
- Jete Leaping from one leg to another.
- Piroutte To turn, or spin.
- Passe To pass the leg into a new position.
- Pas de chat A jump to the side.
- Plie To bend down the knees.
- Releve To rise upon the tiptoes.
- Port de Bras Moving the arms through various positions.
- Saute To jump.
- Tendu To stretch the leg while maintaining a pointed toe.
The positions and steps above are the basic building blocks of ballet upon which all else is built. These movements are practiced by beginners and professionals alike until they become second nature.