Développé Your Knowledge of Dance

Ballet Lingo

As you may have noticed from my previous blogs, I have a “term of the blog” at the very end of each. These are relatively popular terms used in ballet and choreography that I thought would be a good intro for today’s blog which is going to talk all about the ballet terminology origin and why dancers or teachers use it.

If you’ve taken a ballet class for a long period of time, one could say you are a little fluent in french. The ballet lingo is translated from french to describe movements, directions, placements, jumps, leaps, etc. It is all referred to as the ballet vocabulary.

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These are some of the more common vocab words that you’d hear most often

Ballet originally started in Italy, but was regularized in France in the 17th century. Therefore, the ballet vocabulary is mainly in french. In ballet class, you have to expect to know the common words and phrases in french in order to keep up. Your teacher might give you a combination consisting of several movements. One example would be a teacher saying “start devant and rombe jambe en dehors for eight counts”. This means “start to the front and ‘ronde jambe’ (a movement where you take your foot from the front and slide it around to the back) from the front to the back for eight counts”. If you don’t know what certain things mean, you will have trouble trying to figure it out as you go. 

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The link below is a link to a very reliable ballet dictionary

Being able to quickly translate the french movements into the english that we all know is important because once you’ve taken ballet for a long period of time and you continue to become more advanced, the movements will become more advanced as well. French is what makes ballet the sophisticated, fancy, and proper dance form as we know it today.


Fondu – literally meaning “to melt”, when a dancer bends the knee of one supporting leg, causing the upper body to lower, or melt