Ballet - Advanced Positions Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Ballet - Advanced Positions

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This entry continues from the basic ballet positions (recommended reading) and describes the various stationary positions or poses of the Russian Method. They can be combined with various basic, and more advanced, movements, including turns, to create the beautiful choreography that you see in ballet.


An arabesque is where the dancer is posed stood on one leg with the other extended to the rear. There are several different ways the arms can be held and they are described below.


First arabesque is in effacé (see directions of the body), the near leg is the working leg and the back leg is the supporting leg. For this arabesque the opposite arm to the supporting leg is extended to the front and the other arm is in second position.


Second arabesque is again in effacé, this time same arm as the supporting leg is forward, and the other arm is extended to the rear.


Third arabesque is in croisé, near leg is the supporting leg and the back leg is the working leg (lifted/extended). In this arabesque the same arm as supporting leg is extended forward and the other is in second position.


Fourth arabesque is again in croisé, this time the opposite arm to the supporting leg is forward and the other arm is extended to the rear.


In attitude the working leg is raised, either devant or derriére, with a 90 degree bend (as opposed to an arabesque where the leg is straight). Care should be taken to ensure that the line of the leg is level and that the knee does not drop below the toes.

Attitude Ordinare

Ordinare or opposition refers to the positions of the arms when in attitude. For this case the opposite arm to supporting leg is raised in fifth position and the other arm is held in second position.

Attitude Opposition

In this case the same are as supporting leg is held in fifth position and the other in second position.

Passé Position

In this position the supporting leg is straight and the working leg is held so that the knee is out to the side and the foot is to the side of the supporting knee.

Pirouette Position

This position is similar to the passé position but in this case the foot is held just below and in front of the supporting knee. Pirouettes are a type of turn but the pirouette position can also be used when not turning.


To relevé is more of a movement then a pose but it isn't really a step so it is probably best mentioned here. A relevé is generally preceded by a plié and then the foot is snatched up on to demi or full pointe. This movement is quite important to get up on to the toes in full pointe and also to turn well.

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