Ballet For Dummies
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Whether you're practicing ballet in the studio or dancing ballet for a performance, it's important to know the lingo. The following list shows some basic ballet terms with pronunciation guides, as well, because almost all of them are French:
  • Battement tendu (bat-MAHN tahn-DUE): Brushing out your leg along the floor and pointing your foot. It also can be done lifting your legs to various heights, to the front, side, and back (also known as arabesque).

  • En pointe (ahn PWANT or on point): Balancing on the tips of your toes (for women only). This is achieved by wearing special pointe shoes.

  • Grand jeté (GRAHN juh-TAY): A forward jump with a split.

  • Pas de deux (PAH duh DEUH): A dance for two.

  • Pirouette (pee-roo-ET): A turn or series of multiple turns.

  • Plié (plee-AY): Bending your knees. This can be a small or big bend, on one leg or two.

  • Port de bras (POR duh BRAH): Movement of your arms and upper body.

  • Sauté (soh-TAY): A small jump on two legs, landing on both legs.

  • Tutu: A ballerina's skirt, sticking straight out from the hips like a pizza.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Scott Speck has conducted hundreds of ballet performances throughout the United States and Europe. He is music director of the Joffrey Ballet, artistic director of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, and former conductor of the San Francisco Ballet. Evelyn Cisneros danced for the San Francisco Ballet for 23 years and is the artistic director of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

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