Dance Team – Dance Dictionary

Dance Team – Dance Dictionary

If you’re new to dance or coaching dance and you have trouble keeping your terminology straight, check out our Dance Dictionary!

ADAGIO: Any dance to slow music; also, part of the classical pas de deux in ballet.

AIR, ENL’: In ballet, a step done off the ground - for instance, tour en l’air, round de jambe en l’air. It is the opposite of par terre.

ALLEGRO: A dance with a fast or moderate tempo.

ALLONGE: In ballet, an elongated line; in particular, the horizontal line of an arabesque with one arm stretched front and the other back.

ARABESQUE: Position on one leg, with the other leg raised straight behind the body.

ASSEMBLE: In ballet, a jump from one to both feet, usually landing in fifth position.

ATTITUDE: In ballet, a pose in which one leg is raised in back or in front with knee bent, usually with one arm raised.

AXEL: A tuck jump turning outward leaving and landing on the same foot.

BALANCE: A step that rocks from one foot to the other, usually in 3/4 time.

BALLET: From the Italian balletto, diminutive of ballo, “dance.” Classical theatrical dancing based on the danse d’ecole, the rules and vocabulary that were codified around 1700 in France.

BALL CHANGE: Consisting of 2 steps; rocking on the ball of one foot and stepping on the other.

BALLON: In ballet, the ability of a dancer to remain suspended in air during a jump; elasticity in jumping.

BASIC MOVEMENT: In ballroom dance, a characteristic figure that remains constant.

A beating movement of the legs.

A series of small, fast steps executed with the feet very close together.

In ballet, a jump off one foot that is “broken” by a beating of the legs in the air.

CABRIOLE: In ballet, a leap in which the lower leg beats against the upper one at an angle, before the dancer lands again on the lower leg.

CAMBRE: In ballet, a bend from the waist to the side or to the back.

A sliding step in which one foot “chases” and displaces the other.

PAS DECHAT: Catlike leap in which one foot follows the other into the air, knees bent; the landing is in the fifth position.

CISEAUZ: A jump in which the legs open in second position in the air, resembling a scissors.

CONTAGION(RIPPLE): The repetition of a movement from one person to the next.

CONTRACTION: A basic movement in the technique of Marth Graham, based on breath inhalation and exhalation.

DEGAGE: In ballet, shifting weight from one foot to the other.

DEVELOPPE: An unfolding of the leg in the air.

ECARTE: In ballet, a position with one leg extended at an oblique angle while the body is also at an oblique angle.

In ballet, a position of the body at an oblique angle and partly hidden.

ENTRECHAT: A ballet movement in which the dancer repeatedly crosses his or her legs in the air.

EPAULEMENT: In ballet, the position of the torso from the waist-up.

FANDANGO: A lively Spanish dance in triple time performed with castanets or tambourines.

FERME: In ballet, a closed position of the feet.

In ballet, the basic positions of the feet. First position: feet in a straight line, heels touching. Second position: feet in a straight line, heels apart. Third position: one foot in front of the other, parallel to it, with heel of front foot in hollow instep of back foot. Fourth position: one foot in front of the other, parallel, but apart. Fifth position: One foot in front of the other, parallel, with heel of front foot touching toe of back foot.

FONDU: In ballet, a lowering of the body by bending the knee.

FOUETTE EN TOURNANT: leg with rapid circular movements of the other leg while remaining in a fixed spot.

GLISSADE: In ballet, a gliding step which usually connects two steps.

ENHAUT: In ballet, a position of the arms above the head.

ISOLATION: A movement separating one part of the body from the other parts (most common are rib isolations).

JETE: Leap from one leg to the other in which one leg is thrown to the side, front, or back.

GRAND JETE: A large leap forward.

MINUET: A slow and graceful dance that is the most popular dance of the eighteenth century, characterized by symmetrical figures and elaborate curtseys and bows.

MORRIS DANCE: An English folk dance that appeared in the fifteenth century, in which dancers wore bells on their legs and characters, included a fool, a boy on a hobby horse, and a man in blackface.

OUVERT: In ballet, an open position of the feet.

PARTERRE: Steps performed on the floor. It is the opposite of en l’air.

PAS DEDEAUX: A dance for two, usually a woman and a man. In its traditional form, it begins with an entree and adagio, followed by solo variations for each dancer, and a coda.

PASSE: leg is raised with a bent knee with the foot placed on the opposite leg, just below the patella. This may be either parallel or turned out.

PENCHE: In ballet, leaning forward.

Stepping directly onto the point of a foot.

PIROUETTE: A turn performed on one foot. This turn is done in place.

A bending of the knees in any of the five positions. Demi plie: a half bending of the knees, with heels on the floor. Grand plie: a full bending of the knees.

POINT: A position on the tip of the toes.

PORTDEBRAS: In ballet, the positions of the arms.

PROMENADE: In ballet, a slow turn of the body on the whole foot.

RELEVE: In ballet, a rising with a spring movement to point or demi-point.

REVERENCE: A ballet bow or curtsey in which one foot is pointed in front and the body leans forward.

“Round the leg,” the working leg draws a circular path. This may be executed on the floor or in an extended position.

The fixing of the eyes on one spot as long as possible during turns to avoid dizziness and to keep one’s orientation.

SWITCH LEAP: Swing one leg forward then back, lifting into a split leap.

TOURENL’AIR: A turn while jumping straight up in the air.