Carol's Ballet Practice

Jump right to the exercises!
I started learning social dance in Summer 2011. Indeed, I met my current husband through dancing!

In an effort to improve my balance and gain more grace and flexibility, I enrolled in (Spring 2013) an introductory ballet class. I'm sharing my notes in the hope that others with similar goals may find some usefulness from the information on this page. Enjoy!

General Requirements

How to hold your hands in ballet


foot and arm positions (photos and written instruction)

upper left: first
upper right: second
lower left: third
lower middle: fourth
lower right: fifth

WARM-UP EXERCISES at the barre

[Prep: feet parallel]
  1. raise right heel high off floor off floor with ball of foot pushing into floor; feel stretch in legs
  2. as right heel lowers, raise left heel high off floor with ball of foot pushing into floor
  3. repeat to complete 8 beats: right, left, right, left, right, left
[Note: a forced arch is a demi-plié with heels up]
Each line item is a beat.
  1. demi-plié
  2. heels up
  3. relevé (to straight legs)
  4. heels down
  5. relevé
  6. forced arch (demi-plié with heels up)
  7. heels down
  8. straight
Repeat both exercises in first position.
Repeat both exercises in second position.
Repeat both exercises in fifth position.

VOCABULARY (definitions from class handout)

You can get pronunciations at

at the Barre

  1. demi-plié     (DEH-mi plee-AY)
    bending of the knee or knees with the legs well turned out
    good instruction for beginners (2:58) (no arms; video begins at 0:30)
    shown in different positions, with arms (2:13)
  2. grand plié     (grawn plee-AY)
    full bending of the knee
  3. battement     (BAH-te-mon)
    the extension of the leg and its return to the previous position
    [Note: the French word ‘battement’ means beating, as in a heart beat or drum beat]
  4. battement tendu     (BAH-te-mon tawn-DEW)
    stretched battement
    battement tendu devant (1:36)
  5. battement dégagé     (BAH-te-mon DAY-gah-zhay)
    similar to battement tendu, with the working foot rising about 3 inches off the floor
    young learners (2:32) (instruction starts at 0:19)
  6. rond de jambe     (ROAN de(r) ZHAM-ba)
    circular movement of the leg
  7. battement fondu     (BAH-te-mon FAWN-due)
    sinking down, melting action of the legs
    good basic instruction (1:50)
  8. battement développé     (BAH-te-mon DAY-veh-low-pay)
    developed battement
    no verbal instruction, but beautiful (0:43)
  9. grand battement     (grawn BAH-te-mon)
    (large beating) the working leg reaches a 90 degree angle or higher, both knees are straight
    good instruction (2:29) (instruction starts at 0:27)

General Important Ballet Terms

  1. en dehors     (awn de(r)-OR)
  2. en dedans     (awn de(r)-DAWN)
  3. devant     (de(r)-VAWN)
    to the front
  4. à la seconde     (ah la seh-CAWN-de)
    to the side
  5. derriére     (dare-ree-AIR)
    to the back
  6. en croix     (awn QUA)
    in the shape of a cross
  7. croisé     (QUA-say)
    crossed—position of the body in relation to space
  8. port de bras     (pore de(r) BWA)
    carriage of the arms
  9. arabesque     (are-a-BESQUE)
    ballet position; one leg is extended behind, knee is straight
    excellent instruction (3:32) (second arabesque; instruction starts at 0:36)
  10. attitude     (AT-ti-toode)
    ballet position; one knee joint forms a 90 degree angle, and well turned out
  11. cambré
    arching of the back
  12. élevé     (AA-la-VAY)
    to rise to demi-pointe
  13. relevé     (RE(r)-la-VAY)
    to plié before rising to demi-pointe
  14. sous-sus     (SUE-see)
    under-over; it is a relevé in fifth position
  15. soutenu (also referred to as détouré)     (SUE-teh-new)
    sustained; at the barre to turn around;
    it is a pivot turn on both demi-pointes
  16. révérence     (RAY-vay-rawn-ce)
    an elaborate curtsey

at the Center

  1. balancé     (BAHL-own-say)
    (rocking step)   Waltz!
    shifting the weight from one foot to another
  2. pas de bourrée     (pah de(r) boo-RAY)
    a three step combination
    an advanced dancer (1:54; instruction starts at 0:27)
  3. tombeé     (TOME-bay)
    a fall shifting the weight from one foot to another
  4. chassé     (SHAH-say)
    one foot chasing another in plié
    young learners (4:07)
  5. pirouette     (PEER-oh-ETTE)
    (to whirl, spin)   a turn in any position springing from relevé
  6. sauté     (SO-tay)
    a jump that starts and ends in plié, usually in first position
  7. échappé     (AY-sho-pay)
    (escaping) begins and ends in plié
  8. glissade     (GLEE-sod)
    (to glide)   begins and ends in plié with knees extending in between
    young learners (3:44)
  9. pas de chat     (PAH de(r) SHA)
    cat-like step
  10. changement     (SHAWNGE-mahn)
    to change feet in the air
  11. soubresaut     (SUE-breh-SO)
    a jump starting and ending in fifth position
  12. temps levé     (TAHN le-VAY)
    a sauté in any position springing from one foot and landing on the same foot
  13. saut de chat     (SEW-do-SHA)
    cat's jump


On this exercise, you will not key in your answer.
However, you can check to see if your answer is correct.
For native pronunciations, type in the desired phrase here.