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  • Writer's pictureSassySouthernBalletMama

You Said You’d Like to Know-Part I (Basic Ballet Terminology, Etc.)

Hi Everyone! Sssssoooo-I’m wrapping up my first week of class and there’s been one continuing thread: What are the ins and outs of Ballet Terminology?! What ARE all of those words that are coming out of your mouth during class, Sassy Mama? What do they all mean and how can I keep them all straight?!

Typically, I ask my students to bring in notebooks (or phones in a pinch), so we can take a couple of minutes of each class to work through some basic vocabulary. BUT, one of my Adult Ballet Beginner students had a brilliant idea (shout out, Kourtney!): put what I want everyone to know up on a blog post! Now, why didn’t I think of that?!? 🤷🏼‍♀️

So here we go! I hope you find this useful!!!

First: Ballet Etiquette 101:

Ballet has a lineage stretching WAY back to the Italian Court of Catherine de Medici. When she married, she brought Ballet with her to France, where it exploded as a practice and art form in the French Courts, which is why all of our ballet terminology is in French. But besides the language, the etiquette that started in the royal court systems, has stretched over time to reach us. Here are a few simple ”rules” to remember:

1) Be to class on time. If you are running late, wait outside of the door until you hear a break in the music, which indicates an exercise is over and you will not be disruptive upon entering;

2) If the music is playing or the teacher is speaking, you should not be talking or in any way disrupting the flow of class (ya don’t want to be THAT student!); and

3) At the end of class, please be sure to physically go to your accompanist, if you are lucky enough to have live accompaniment!, and to show her your appreciation with a personal thank you. Same goes for thanking your teacher!

Second: Basic Class Structure

Class structure is going to fluctuate a bit from teacher to teacher and from level to level. But the basics are as follows, typically:

-Reverence (How we Say Hello at the top of Class)

-Barre (Exercises meant to warm up the whole body in a pieces and parts fashion to make sure the whole is ready for what’s coming in center! (The physical Barre is a ballet dancer’s first tool of the trade!)

-Center (Everything done at barre is now down in center, so this part of class will have Adagio (slow and controlled) movements as well as Allegro (big and bright) movements.

-Pointe and/or Men’s Work

-Reverence (See above)

Tune in for the Next Blog post that will cover the Ballet Basic vocabulary! See you then!

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