More Fun with Ballet Terminology

I really did want to put more of the “useful” French I learned in ballet in my last post, but the writer in me insisted on making the post more readable. Silly inner writer. Anyway, if you think I have a lot of stories about Rome, you should remember that my time at the Rome Center was only 9 months. My time studying ballet? Yeah, that was almost 9 years. (Okay, it was really more like 8, but again, that silly inner writer insisted it would sound better if I used the same number in both sentences.) My point is that if you think I have a lot of stories about Rome, the number pales in comparison to the how many stories I have about ballet.

So here are some of the terms I thought about sharing in my previous post as well as what I was taught they mean:

Battement – beat

Plié – bend

En croix – in the shape of a cross, which is to say that the step is performed to the front, side, back, and then side again

Croisé – standing on an angle so that legs are crossed as seen by the audience; not to be confused with en croix

En de dans – inside, because we dance (dans looks like dance) inside

En de hors – outside, because we ride our horses (hors, horse, get it?) outside

Jêté – kick

Petit jêté – little kick

Grand jêté – a leap that can be performed straight or stag, which is to say the leading leg is either straight the entire time or begins bent and straightens as one leaps; yes, apparently the meaning of jêté changes once grand is put in front of it

Tour jêté – a turning leap, traditionally done while standing between the mirror and one’s teacher and cursed be the dancer whose leg swings to the side for she will inevitably kick one of them although slightly less cursed be the dancer who kicks the mirror and not her teacher

Saut de Basque – jump of the Basque, three words, not two even though it’s pronounced like “soda Basque”

Attitude – the position the god Mercury holds in the FTD logo

Arabesque – a position with arms held at shoulder level, one to the side and one to the front, the one to the front very carefully positioned so as not too look like a Heil Hitler; did I not mention that my teacher survived the London Biltz?*

*Yes, my teacher did live through the London Blitz. You now may understand why I have lots of stories about ballet. Several of them aren’t so much about ballet as about the things we learned due to the fact that our teacher grew up in World War II London.


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