This page lists basic terminology used in the teaching of classical dance. Note that some terms originating in French may also be found with an added -e at the end.


  • Á deux bras [a de bra] – Indicates a pose in which both arms are stretched forward or raised upwards. For example arabesque à deux bras and attitude à deux bras.
  • Á la seconde [a la sekond] – to the side.
  • Abaisser [abasé] – Drop, lower, descend. After standing on tiptoe or halfway on tiptoe, you are returning to standing on your whole foot.
  • Abstract ballet – Ballet without a plot; a composition that is purely dance
  • Adagio [adážo] – A term taken from the musical term of the same name. It means: lightly, freely, slowly, calmly. In dance it means something very slow and graceful.
  • Ailes de pigeon [aj d piňo] = also “pistolet” – this movement’s name means “pigeon’s wings.” A jump in which the dancer performs a cabriole with a triple leg crossing and then lands on the leg that they leaped from and leaves their other leg stretched in the air.
  • Air, en l’ [ánlér] – In the air. An element or motion in the air—usually one where the working leg is in the air. For example rond de jambe en l’air.
  • Allegro – A term taken from the Italian musical term meaning quick or lively. It is used for brisk and lively movements. All jumps fall within this category.
  • Alongé [alonžé] – Stretching out, stretching apart, straightened, or stretched. E.g. the hands or wrists, or an entire element or pose. A specific arm and leg motion.
  • Arabesque – [arabeska]– A pose on one leg where the other leg is extended backwards and forms a graceful curve with the body. There are several types.
  • Arriére, en [ánarijér] – rearward. The dancer takes a step away from the audience.
  • Arrondi/e [arondi] – Rounded. Most frequently used to refer to an arm that forms a gentle arch from the shoulder to the fingers.
  • Assemblé [asamblé] – Joined. A jump in which the legs are joined before falling into the fifth position. A special element assembled from several simple elements.
  • Attitude [atytýda] – A pose on one leg with the other leg stretched forward or backward and bent at the knee. There are several types.
  • Avant, en [ánaván] – To the front, in front. Straightening the working leg in front of oneself. The dancer is taking a step toward the audience.


  • Ballancé [balansé,balance] – A swinging step or swaying motion as is used in e.g. the waltz.
  • Ballerina, prima [prima balerina] – The Italian name for the principal dancer. This name is used to indicate an ensemble’s lead soloist, its head dancer.
  • Ballet blanc –“White ballet.” Any ballet in which the dancers are dressed in the traditional long white dresses designed for Marie Taglioni in 1830 for the ballet La Sylphide..
  • Ballet classique [balet klasik] – Classical ballet – Traditional ballet technique. Also ballet from the second half of the 19th century, from which the traditional technique developed. A ballet based on traditional academic principles.
  • Ballet d’action [balet d aksion] – A ballet with a plot, e.g. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Romeo and Juliet.
  • Ballon [balon] – A jump. More precisely, a springy jump.
  • Ballonné [baloné] – A jump (from the fifth position) in which the dancer lands on one leg in demi-plié with the working leg sur le cou de pied.
  • Barre, á la [a la bar] = (Time spent) at the bar. A fundamental part of each lesson, usually the opening, where individual elements are trained at the bar. This term indicates exercises with support, i.e. holding on to the bar.
  • Battement [batmán] – A beaten step. A quick bending or thrusting and extending of the working leg. A general term; they are many battements, both large and small.
  • Battement développé [batmán developé] – An extensive, developed motion. The working leg is lifted from the fifth position along the supporting leg, past the cou de pied, past the retiré (the working leg placed next to the supporting knee), and then is opened, stretched forward (en avant), and to the side (à la seconde) or the back (en arrière); it ends in the air, at various heights at different levels of advancement.
  • Battement fondu [batmán fóndy]– A free-flowing, sweeping motion in which the supporting leg first bends into demi-plié and the supporting leg (also bent) is placed at the cou de pied, and then the dancer begins smoothly straightening both legs at once. The working leg goes forward, to the side, or to the back, and it ends in the air (once again at various heights at different levels of advancement).
  • Battement frappé [batmán frapé] – – An energetic, short, and swift motion by the working leg out of cou de pied into a low stretch toward the front, side, or rear.
  • Battement frappé double [batmán frapé dubl] – Differs from battement frappé in that, before being swung to the side, the dancer’s leg switches out of the sur le cou de pied devant position into the sous le cou de pied position or vice-versa.
  • Battement relevé lent [batmán releve lán] – Slow lifting of a stretched leg to a height of at least 90° to the front, side, or rear.
  • Battement soutenu [batmán suteny] – Like the battement tendu, with the difference that the supporting leg performs a demi-plié along with the stretching of the working leg.
  • Battement tendu [batmán tándy] – A motion in which the working leg is moved along the mat up to a point where the sole of the foot is stretched. It forms the foundation of all battements.
  • Battement tendu jeté [batmán tándy žeté]– A motion in which the working leg is “thrown” into the air under a 45° angle above the mat and stops there for a moment.
  • Batterie [baterí] – A beaten step. A motion in which the legs beat together in the air. There is a number of types. Typically a more masculine element.
  • Battu [baty] – The beating of one leg against the other.
  • Bourrée [buré] – A series of small, swift steps that the dancer performs in the fifth position while standing on tiptoe or demi-pointe.
  • Bras [bra] – Arm.


  • Cabriole [kabriol]– From the Italian capriole – goat jump. A jump made forward, backward, to croisé, effacé or écarté, into arabesque, from the fifth position or some kind of preparatory step. The leap is made on one leg, and the supporting leg beats the stretched free leg.
  • Cloche, en [an kloš] – Like a bell, bell-style. The leg crosses over from a position in front past the first position in back and vice-versa.
  • Corps – The body.
  • Cou de pied [ku-d/e-pie] – Literally “the neck of the foot.” A position with the working foot on the other leg at the ankle or around the ankle. A positioning of the legs in which the working leg is supported on the ankle or nearby the ankle of the supporting leg.
  • Coupé [kupé] – A small, linking motion enabling the commencement of another step. Made forward or backward.
  • Couru, pas [pa kury] – Running on tiptoe or demi-pointe in a parallel stance with small, swift steps forward or backward.
  • Croisé [kroazé] – Crossed. A position where the dancer’s trunk is turned slightly, and the line of the legs is shown to the audience crossed. The trunk is turned to point 2 or point 8, and the head toward the audience.
  • Croix, en [án kroá] – Into a cross shape, i.e. performing an element forward, to the side, backward, and to the side.
  • Free excercise (Cvičení na volnosti) – An exercise done in free space without support from a bar.


  • Danse [dáns] – Dance.
  • Danse de caractere [dans de karaktar] – A character dance: a dance based on national and folk dances adapted for ballet performances; both original and classical steps and motions are used within it.
  • Danseur [dánrs] – Male dancer.
  • Danseuse – Female dancer.
  • Dedans, en [ándedán] – Inward. A motion, step, or turn of the body toward the supporting leg. A direction of circling motion of the leg from the back to the front or a direction of rotation while pirouetting on the side of the lifted leg.
  • Dégagé [degažé] – Relaxed. The foot in an open position with a bent instep.
  • Dehors, en [ándeór] – Outward. A motion, step, or turn of the body is moving away from the supporting leg. A direction of circling motion of the leg from the front to the back or a direction of rotation while pirouetting on the side of the lifted leg.
  • Demi – Half, halfway. E.g. demi-tour – half-turn, turning by 180°.
  • Demi-plié – Half-squat. A position with halfway bent knees.
  • Demi-pointes [demi poánt] – Halfway on tiptoe. The dancer is standing on the pads beneath their toes.
  • Derriére [deriér] – Behind. A motion, step, or placement of an arm or leg behind the body.
  • Dessous – Under. The working leg is moved behind the supporting leg.
  • Dessus – Over. The working leg is moved in front of the supporting leg.
  • Détiré [détyré] – An exercise in which the dancer grasps the leg, bent at the knee, with the hand on the same side; grasping it at the foot, they lift it up high, until it is tensed, and then move the leg forward to the side.
  • Devant [deván] – In front. A motion, step, or placement of an arm or leg in front of the body.
  • Développé [developé] – Unfolded. A motion in which the lifted working leg opens up. E.g. battement développé. The motion of the dancer’s turned-out leg past the cou de pied upward out into tension and as high as the their range allows.
  • Diagonal, en [an diagonal] – VIn a diagonal; a motion made diagonally.
  • Divertissement [divertisment] – Distraction, amusement. Short dances placed on the program of a classical ballet to enable individuals and groups to show off their skills.
  • Posture (Držení těla) – A posture technique based on the rules of classical ballet.


  • Ecarté [ekarté] – To separate or cast to the side. One of the basic poses, in which the dancer’s legs are in the second position, but their trunk is perpendicular to the audience.
  • Effacé [efasé] – A pose in which the trunk is slightly turned and the line of the legs is opened up toward the audience. The trunk is turned to point 2 or point 8, the head toward the audience.
  • Echappée [ešapé] – Escape. A motion in which both legs are simultaneously shifted into an open position on the ground or in the air. It is used in connection with changement.
  • Élevation [elevasjon] – Height. The height reached during a jump.
  • Emboité [anbuaté] – A jump performed with a swing of one leg and ending in a pose on that same leg.
  • En promenade [an promnad] – By walking. . This term designates free rotation on one leg in a certain pose, for example in the arabesque.
  • Enchaînment – Connection. A series of interconnected steps.
  • Entrée [ántré]– Entry onto the stage.
  • Entrechat [antrša] – A jump with a bounce of both feet, wherein the feet exchange places in the air. Several types of these jumps exist, depending on the number of exchanges in the air and the method of landing.
  • Epaulement [epolmá] –The positioning of the shoulders, head, and body while moving, through which the dancer slightly turns toward the audience or deflects themselves away.
  • Etuda – A dance focused on practicing a certain technique.
  • Exercises [akzersis] – Exercises, either à la barre (at the bar) or au milieu (in open space, in freedom).


  • Face, en [ánfas] – The dancer turns their eyes directly toward the audience. The dancer is turned directly toward the audience with their whole body, like in front of a mirror.
  • Fermé– Closed, a closed position, closing. The feet are in the closed position. E.g. sissone fermé.
  • Fixace – Strengthening.
  • Flexe – Bending.
  • Fondu [fóndy] – Supple. Flowing, supple motion. E.g. during the battement fondu.
  • Fouetté [foeté]– A type of turn on one leg that passes into demi-pied or tiptoe; during the turn, the working leg is placed sur le cou de pied or au genau.
  • Frappé– A struck beat. E.g. during the battement frappé.


  • Genou [ženu] – Knee.
  • Glissade [glisad] – A slide; a sliding transition from a closed position to an open one, with subsequent closure of this position. A step that proceeds from the demi-plié in the fifth position, past relevé in the second position, back into the fifth position. Passing of weight from one leg onto the other.
  • Grand [grán] – Large. For example grand allegro, grand battement, or grand jeté.
  • Grand allegro [grán alegro] – Large allegro jumps and steps.
  • Grand battement [grán batmán] – Swift and energetic “flinging” of the dancer’s leg into the air. Once again toward the front, side, or back. Energetic motion of the legs past the battement tendu up to whatever height the dancer’s range allows. With the leg either extended or straightened. Intensive stretching of the entire leg. Swinging movements as well.
  • Grand échappée [grán ešapé] – A version of the échappée sautée jump in which the legs are only open at the moment of the jump.
  • Grand jeté [grán žeté]– A large jump in open space from one leg onto the other; the legs are stretched in the air, with one aimed forward and the other backward, or the legs are crossed in the air, and the dancer’s entire trunk turns by 180° during the jump. A peak jump, generally made frontward, but a backward version also exists.
  • Grand plié [grán plié] – A position with fully bent knees.


  • Chainés – literally meaning “chained,” this is a common abbreviation for tours chaînés déboulés, a turn in the first position on tiptoe or demi-pointe, executed by turning in a half-circle while regularly transferring the body’s weight from one leg onto the other, with the distance between the heels remaining the same.
  • Changement de pieds – Switching feet. A small or large jump in which the positions of the legs change in mid-air.
  • Changer – To change, to exchange. A step where one leg is exchanged for the other; the two legs exchange positions. The one that was in front is now in back and vice-versa.
  • Chassé – A chasing, hopping step, during which “one leg chases the other.”
  • Choreographer – The person who devises, assembles, and arranges a series of steps, a dance; performances are made out of these.
  • Choreography – The result of work done by a choreographer; a series of steps and figures in ballet or dance.
  • Choreology – Documentation of ballet using a special notation.


  • Improvisation – Free room left for the dancer’s imagination.


  • Jambe – A leg. Indicates the whole leg rather than the foot, unlike pied.
  • Stag leap (Jelení skok) – A jump in which the take-off leg is bent forward and the rear leg is either left straight or is also bent, e.g into attitude.
  • Jeté – Thrown. E.g. during battement jeté or grand jeté.


  • Rosin (Kalafuna) – Also “resin.” Dancers use powdered pine rosin to coat the tips of their dancing shoes to prevent slipping.
  • Classical ballet (Klasický balet) – Traditional ballet technique. Also ballet from the second half of the 19th century, from which the traditional technique developed.


  • Lecon [lekon] – A lesson.


  • Manage, en – In a circle. Steps or a combination of steps performed into/along a circle in the hall or on the stage.
  • Millieu, au [o-milié] – in freedom, in open space. An exercise in the open space of the hall, without support from the bar.
  • Modern ballet – A ballet style created in the 20th century; it is still being developed. It has developed into Contemporary Ballet. Freer techniques than in classical ballet; the focus is on expressing individual emotions.


  • Instep (Nárt) – The upper part of the foot (in the part from the ankle downward), which is formed by the instep bone. It can be either a “large” or a “small” instep. Dancers with a large instep have an advantage when dancing on tiptoe.
  • Notation – Various systems for the written notation of ballet choreography.


  • Axis (Osa) – An imaginary line passing through the dancer’s body (from the top of the head through the feet) that helps them to maintain their balance in every pose. Important for correct posture.
  • Roll (Otočka) – A characteristic head movement during pirouettes and other rotating motions. An important element that helps dancers to maintain their balance. It is based on the dancer finding a fixed point in the hall at which they gaze continuously during their spin and, at the end of the spin/motion, turning their head and looking back at that point, thereby maintaining correct body positioning.
  • Ouvert – Open. The dancer’s legs are in an open position toward the audience.


  • Par terre [pártér] – On the ground. For example in rond de jambe parterre.
  • Pas [pa] – Step. For example in pas de chat, pas de deux.
  • Pas allé [pa alé] – Walking.
  • Pas coupé [pa kupé] – Taking off from one leg along with landing on the other.
  • Pas couru – Running. A technique assembled from different variants of swift, small steps.
  • Pas de bourrée – A step from the Bourrée. This is an old French baroque dance that has become a part of classical ballet. It has a number of forms, but all of them include several crossings from one leg onto to the other. [3]
  • Pas de deux [pa-d-dö/é] – A dance for a pair of dancers, e.g. a man and a woman. It is a part of, or the climactic number in, many classical ballets.
  • Pas de deux, grand – A finishing touch, a performance by the dancers for both of a ballet’s leading roles. It has three parts: entré – entry, adagio – solo variation by the male and female dancer, and coda – once again with both of them dancing and usually performing difficult and impressive jumps, spins and virtuoso step combinations.
  • Pas de deux, grand – A finishing touch, a performance by the dancers for both of a ballet’s leading roles. It has three parts: entré – entry, adagio – solo variation by the male and female dancer, and coda – once again with both of them dancing and usually performing difficult and impressive jumps, spins and virtuoso step combinations.
  • Pas de quatre [pa de katr] –“Step for four,” a dance for four dancers, e.g. the dance of the small swans in the second act of Swan Lake.
  • Pas de trois [pa de trua] – “Step for three,” a dance for three dancers, found in e.g. The Nutcracker.
  • Pas de valse [pa de vals] – “Waltz step.”
  • Pas glisade [pa de glisad] – A gliding step made either as a jump or on tiptoe.
  • Passé [pasé] – Go by, pass by, transfer. A motion by the working leg, which passes the supporting leg either horizontally or vertically while performing an exercise; alternatively, transferring a leg from one position to another.
  • Penché [penšé] – Inclined. For example during the arabesque penchée, the leg is lifted high and the trunk is tilted forward.
  • Petit [pti/peti/t/ti] – Small. E.g. petit battement.
  • Petit allegro [peti alegro] – Small jumps and steps from allegro.
  • Petit battement [pti/ti batmán]– Swift, small beats by the working leg in front of or behind the supporting leg in the cou de pied position. The leg is turned to the side and moves only from the knee downward; it opens up into a right angle.
  • Petit échappée [peti ešapé] – One of the versions of the échapée sautée jump, in which the legs open up prior to landing.
  • Pied [pie] – The foot. Found in e.g. pied à terre (the whole foot is on the ground), pied à quart (the heel is lightly lifted off the ground), pied à pointe (on tiptoe), pied à demi (on the pads of the toes).
  • Piqué [piké] – A position in which the working leg is in the pointe tendue position, i.e. straightened, and is touching the floor with its tip.
  • Pirouette [piruet] – Spinning. A technique of spinning on one foot. An advanced element. In classical dance it is divided into large pirouettes (done in a pose with the working leg lifted up to 90°) and small pirouettes (the working leg takes the sur le cou de pied position during rotation).
  • Pistolet – another name for ailes de pigeon
  • Ballet slippers (Piškoty) – Soft dancing shoes. They are produced in many designs; the most popular are leather or satin slippers in salmon, white, or black.
  • Place, sur [sur plas] – In place.
  • Plié – Bending. Bending of one or both knees.
  • Pointe, en – On tiptoe. Swinging the body onto the tips of the toes. Dancing en pointe is the peak form of ballet. It is very physically demanding and requires preparation lasting several years.
  • Pointes, sur les [su le poán] – Likewise on tiptoe. Swinging the body up onto the tips of the toes.
  • Pointe tendue [poan tándy] – Stretched out. The extended leg is stretched in a way that leaves only the tip of the big toe on the ground.
  • Port de bras [pór-d-brá] – Work with the arms. Motion of the arms through various positions. Leading the upper limbs based on the principles of classical dance, with coordination of the movement of the head, trunk, and legs. Teaching practice utilizes six firmly defined forms for this element.
  • Porté/e [porté]– Bringing a leg over from one position to another (by one half or one quarter of a circle).
  • Pose [póza] – A static pose or position in classical ballet. A precisely defined placement of each part of the body. For example the arabesque or attitude.
  • Préparation [preparasjón] – Preparation. A motion through which the dancer prepares to dance. Depending on the nature of the element that follows it, it may be an arm motion, sometimes an arm and leg motion, lasting two or four musical beats.
  • Principal [principál] – The ensemble’s main dancer.


  • Relevé– Raised. A motion in which the body is lifted up onto tiptoe or demi-pointes.
  • Relevé lent [releve lán] – A motion in which the working leg is smoothly and gracefully moved first along the mat until the instep is straightened (tip of the foot on the mat) and then is further smoothly lifted into the air. E.g. battement relevé lent.
  • Relevér – To lift.
  • Romantic ballet– A ballet style from the Romantic period in the first half of the 19th century.
  • Rond de Jambe [rón-d-žámb] – A circle, a circular motion, described by the leg, the tip of the foot. The leg’s motion is from the hip, the leg is straightened, the upper half of the body does not move. This can be e.g. rond de jambe parterre – a circle described by the leg on the ground, or rond de jambe en l’air – a circle described by the leg in the air.
  • Renversé/e [ranverze] – A backward bend while rotating.
  • Répétition [repetision] – A practice session; repeating the exercises.
  • Retiré – Lifted. The tip of the working leg is lifted from the closed position up to just under the knee.
  • Révérence [reveráns] – A bow. The bow at the end of a lesson or performance. A relaxed tempo; the emphasis is on the gracefulness of motion. Grand révérence – a large bow – exists as well.
  • Range – The edge position of a particular element performable by a given dancer; it is dependent on their disposition, but can be trained.


  • Salle, autour de la [otůr de la sal]– Around the hall. A series of steps or spins performed along the circumference of the hall or stage. This expression comes from the Cecchetti method.
  • Saut [sot] – A jump.
  • Sauté [soté] – Jumped. The motion is performed as a jump, for example échappée sautée.
  • Seconde, á la [ala seko/ónd] – Into the second position. A high side leg lift in the second position en l’air. If the leg (on the ground or in the air) or the arm is in the second position.
  • Seul, pas [pa sol]– Solo, a solo performance by one dancer.
  • Simple [sempl] – Simple, ordinary. For example sissonne simple.
  • Sissorule [sisorul]– A type of jump from both legs, which can be performed in many ways.
  • Sissonne [sison]– A type of jump from both legs and landing on one leg.
  • Sissonne fermé [sison fermé] – A jump from both legs; the legs are rejoined while landing; the dancer finishes in the closed position.
  • Sissonne ouvert [sison o/uvér] – A jump from both legs; while landing the legs are in an open position toward the audience.
  • Sissone simple [sisón sémpl] – A jump from both legs with a landing into cou de pied devant or derrière.
  • Sólista – A dancer who dances alone. There can be several soloists in one ensemble, selected from its best.
  • Ensemble (Soubor) – A group of dancers that typically dances as a group with the support of soloists.
  • Contemporary dance (Současný tanec) – A modern dance style that is freer than classical ballet.
  • Soulevé, soulevée [sulevé] = see Piqué.
  • Soutenu [sotenu] – With support.
  • Suite, de [de suit] – In series.
  • Sur – On. For example “sur 1es pointes.”
  • Sur place [sur plac] – In place.
  • Synkopy – The emphasizing of the rhythmic portion of a composition.


  • Rope (Šňůra) – A pose in which the dancer is sitting on the ground or flying in the air and has both legs extended and straightened, one in front and the other in back.
  • Ballet shoes (Špičky)– The dancing shoes that are characteristic for classical ballet. They are distinctive for their hard tips and soles, thanks to which a dancer can stand “on their toes” – en pointes. Primarily used by women.


  • “Stop” (Tečka)– A stopping of motion, enduring in a certain position or pose.
  • Temps levé [támp levé] – Swinging up. A hop on one leg.
  • Temps lié [témp lié] – Connection. A series of smoothly connected motions.
  • Tendu [tándy] – Extended, stretched. E.g. during the battement tendu.
  • Terre, par nebo a [partér, a tér] – On or along the ground.
  • Tête [tet] – Head.
  • Tour en l’air [túr-ánlér] – Spinning around in the air.
  • Tournant, en [an turná] – While turning. A step performed while spinning, in connection with spinning.
  • Tutu [tyty] – the name for the ballerina’s horizontally standing skirt that stiffly retains its shape.
  • Bar (Tyč) – A bar affixed at waist height that helps dancers to maintain their balance while doing their exercises. Exercises at the bar usually start out each lesson.


  • Variation – A stylized dance by a single person.
  • Turn out (Vytočení) – A technique that includes twisting the leg from the hip joints, which offers sufficient space for the steps of classical ballet. It is largely trainable, but it has some dependence on the dancer’s individual disposition. Also spelled as “turnout.”


  • Lift (Zvedačka) – A figure in which the dancer lifts their partner off the ground.