Ballet Theory

These are the words you should learn for each grade. As you progress through the grades you should also learn the previous ones.

Remember learning your theory is very important as Graded examinations count towards a GCSE equivalent on reaching a Grade Five!

Introduction to Grade One

Bras bas Low position of both arms to form an oval action
Battement A beating action of the working leg
Tendu To stretch-an outstretched position or action
Grand Large or Big
Devant In front
Derriere Behind or at the back
Petit Small
Jete To throw
Degage To disengage or move apart

Grade One

Demi bras Half way arms. Halfway between bras bas and 1st position
En croix In the shape of a cross
Adage Slow graceful co-ordinated movements
Glissade Gliding or sliding movement along the floor
Changement To change. A changing of the feet whilst in the air
Pose To step- poised
Temps leve A lifted movement
En face Facing the front (downstage)


Grade Two

Enchainment Steps linked together to form a short sequence
Assemble To assemble, to join feet together
Soutenu To sustain or hold
Fondu To melt- a smooth bending movement of the supporting leg
Echappe To escape- a movement of legs from a closed to an open position
Releve A strong rise or snatch onto demi point keeping toes in contact with the floor
Croise Crossed(body alignment),the front foot is nearest to the audience
Ouvert Open(body alignment)
Arabesque A balanced pose on one leg with the other leg extended behind (a terre or en l’air) in ouvert
A’terre The working foot remains on the ground
En l’air In the air. The working foot is off the ground
Pas de chat Step of the cat


Grade Four

Frappe To strike
Sur le cou de pied On the neck of the foot. Phrase used to describe placement of the working foot on the supporting leg
Developpe A sustained unfolding action of the working leg
Fouette To whip
Epaulement A use of the shoulders in relation to the body
A deux bras (Two) with both arms
Temp lie Time- Linked – a linking movement incorporating a transference of weight
Pirouette A whirl – spinning action performed on one leg

Grade Three

Glisse A glide or slide
Ronds de jambe A circling or rounding of the working leg
En dehors Outward action of the working leg
En dedans Inward action of the working leg
Retire A drawing up action of the working leg
Attitude A pose- a contained position based on curves
Chasse To chase – a linking movement with a sliding action
En avant To the front-movements travelling forward
En arriere To the back-movements travelling backwards
Balance To rock A balanced step set to waltz time with accent of the first step
De cote To travel sideways
Soubresaut A spring in the air in 3rd or 5th position without changing feet on landing
Pas de bourree A running step. Step of the bourree, an old French dance
Sur Place An action performed without travelling


Grade Five

Sissonne Scissor action – a jump from two feet to one foot
Ferme To close – an action which ends with the feet together in a closed position
Battu To beat – a beating action of the legs
Entrechat To interweave or braid – a jump in which the feet cross and the legs beat in the air
Quatre Four – four interweaving action, two with each leg