Learn the Basics for Ballet

If you are starting your ballet dance practice, here are some tips that will help you build the basic foundation. The basics are important for progressing into intermediate and advanced dance combinations. However, no matter how advanced a dancer’s technique becomes returning to basics will always continually improve your practice.

Plies – This is a French term for the bending of the knee. It is important when performing plies that the knee goes directly over the big and second toes during the bending of the knee. We perform plies in all foot positions.

Foot positions – We stand in these positions in ballet:

  • First Position – Heels together, toes pointed out in a V position. Very flexible dancers who are turned out at the hip can stand in a 180 degree angle.
  • Second position – Where the heels are positioned under the hips or wider than the hips in a larger V position. The heels are not touching at all.
  • Third position – This position is done separately on each side. On the right side, the right heel is placed adjacent to the middle of the left foot. The toes on each foot are pointed outwardly on both sides. The left side is exactly the same except the left heel is adjacent and touching the middle of the right foot.
  • Fourth position – From third position the toe points straight forward (but in a turned out position). When the foot lands naturally flat on the floor, this becomes fourth position. The same is done on the other side. This is like third position except the feet are not touching.
  • Fifth position – The opposite heel comes to touch the toe of the opposite foot. Both feet are turned out.

Arm positions. Depending on the style of ballet you are studying, their may be variations. For most, including American Ballet, these are the basic arm positions.

  • En bas – Meaning down low. Arms are slightly curved and hands face each other but not touching. The arms are down and curved and hands low by the lower belly.
  • First position – The hands move in front of the chest with arms curved as if you are holding a small ball.
  • Second position – Now we are holding a large beach ball. From first position separate the arms so they are to the sides. The arms are not splayed, the arms are still curved.
  • Third position – From second position raise one arm over head. Do the same on the other side.
  • Fourth position – From third position reach the top arm out to the front of the chest.
  • Fifth position – Both hands are reaching above the head with a slight curve in the arms.

For an at-home practice, consider purchasing my online dance video, “Ballet Practice with Kinikia” available on Vimeo.

Ballet Practice available on Vimeo from only $4.99

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