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Lesson 3

Barre Positions & Terms

Commonly Used Ballet Terms

À terre - flat-footed. (As opposed to demi-pointe or pointe).

Attitude - in classical ballet, this is a position where the dancer is standing on one leg with the other lifted, usually to the front (devant) or back (derrière). The leg in the air is bent at the knee in turn out (external rotation) so that it forms roughly a 45 degree angle.

Arabesque - is a position where the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended directly behind the body with a straight knee. 

Battement - is an alternating side-to-side movement of the working leg. Battements are typically performed in multiples, quickly, and in rapid succession so that the working foot appears to be fluttering or vibrating. They are usually executed in front, to the side or to the back.

Coupé - is a classical ballet term meaning “cut” or “cutting.” In ballet, the coupé is a transitional position. From first position, one leg is lifted and brought to the midline of the calf. In barre class, the lifted foot lands either in front of the calf or behind it. We can then perform many different movements from here.  

Derrière - behind

Devant -  in front

Dorsi-flexion - when the heel is pressed forward and the foot is perpendicular to the leg. Lengthens the back of the leg (flex the foot).

Extension -  raise and hold a leg extended in the air. Extend through the knee, extend into arabesque.

Fire hydrant - not a ballet term, but a Barre term we use often. Knee will be bent at 90 degrees or more and move away from the body laterally.

Frappé - is a classical ballet term meaning “struck.” A frappé is a step almost always done at the barre as an exercise to improve quick and precise movement of the legs and feet. To do a frappé, the student usually starts with the outside leg in a flexed, turned out position lifted off the floor with the heel placed slightly above the ankle bone of the standing leg.  The student then extends their leg and points their foot towards the floor and out, causing the “strike” on the floor. The strike on the floor is exactly how the step got its name, since frappé actually means “struck” or “to strike.”

Fondu - is a classical ballet term meaning “sinking down," where the student is doing a plié on a single leg. If you think of a plié being for two legs, a fondu is the same, just for one.

Passé -  is a classical ballet term meaning “passed.”  A movement that requires the working leg to bend so it looks like a triangle with the foot placed near the other supporting leg’s knee without placing pressure.

Plantar-flexion - when the toes are pointed, lengthens the front of the leg (point the toe).

Plié -  a bending of the knees in turnout with the back held straight.

Pulse - a movement encompassing a very small range of motion. Pulses occur either at the top or at the bottom of a range of motion.

Relevé - in any position, the heels lift away from the floor, balancing on the toes and toe mound of the foot.

Rond de Jambe -  is a classical ballet term meaning “round of the leg” or “circular movements of the leg."

Supporting Leg - is a classical ballet term that describes a student's leg that is supporting their whole body while the other leg is free to do another step.  A student's supporting leg is often called a “standing leg.”

Tendu - the act of sliding the toes along the floor, literally means “stretched.”

Turnout - the placement of the feet with the heels together and the toes pointed outward, in any of the five positions of the feet.

Working Leg - this is the leg that will be in motion, opposite from the supporting leg. Usually the working leg is the furthest away from the barre.


Basic Start Positions


First, Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Position


Parallel, Froggy & Horsey


Arm Position


First, Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth


Arm Movements



Test Questions

Lesson 3 Wrap up

1. What is a relevé and in what position can you use it?

2. Name the movement when your knee is bent and leg is moving laterally.

3. What is a fondu?

4. Name eight starting feet positions.

5. What are the three most common feet positions in barre?

6. Name five arm positions.

7. If arms are getting fatigued during Barre, how do you modify?

8. How can you make arms more challenging?

9. What is the difference between Standing and Working leg?

10. Name the term for heels together, toes outward and hips externally rotated.

Submit Your Answers Here

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