Dictionary of Ballet & Dance Terms

A–B   |  C–D  |  E–L  |  M–P   |  Q–Z

Cabriole

An allegro step in which the extended legs are beaten in the air

Cabriole, double

a cabriole in which one leg strikes the other in the air two or more times before landing.

Cavalier

The male partner of the ballerina

Centre practice

a group of exercises similar to those à la barre but performed in the centre of the room without the support of the barre. These exercises are usually performed with alternate feet and are invaluable for obtaining good balance and control

Chaînés

a series of rapid turns on the points or demi-pointes done in a straight line or in a circle.

Changement

springing steps in the fifth position, the dancer changing feet in the air and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot in the front

Chassé

step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series.

Choreographer

term applied to one who composes or invents ballets or dances

Choreography

term used to describe the actual steps, groupings and patterns of a ballet or dance composition

Cinq

five

Cinquiéme

fifth

Classical ballet

traditional style of ballet, which stresses the academic technique developed through the centuries of the existence of ballet

Coda

the finale of a classical ballet in which all the principal dancers appear separately or with their partners.

Corps

body

Corps de ballet

The dancers in a ballet who do not appear as soloists

Côté, de

indicates that a step is to be made to the side, either to the right or to the left.

Cou-de-pied position

working foot is placed on the part of the leg between the base of the calf and the beginning of the ankle

Coupé jeté en tournant

compound step consisting of a coupé dessous making a three-quarter turn and a grand jeté en avant to complete the turn. The step is usually done in a series either en manège or en diagonale

Couru

running

Croise', croisée

pose in which a dancer stands with legs crossed at an angle to the audience. The disengaged leg may be crossed in the front or in the back

Croix, en

the shape of a cross. Indicates that an exercise is to be executed to the fourth position front, to the second position and to the fourth position back, or vice versa

Danse

dance

Danse de caractère

dance of character, character dance

Dedans, en

inward - indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air , moves in a circular direction, counterclockwise from back to front. In pirouettes it indicates that a pirouette is made inward toward the supporting leg

Dehors, en

outward - indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air, moves in a circular direction, clockwise. In pirouettes it indicates that a pirouette is made outward toward the working leg

Demi-plié

Half-bend of the knees. All steps of elevation begin and end with a demi-plié

Demi-pointes, sur les

On the half-points. Indicates that the dancer is to stand high on the balls of the feet and under part of the toes. Also used in the singular, "sur la demi-pointe."

Derrière

refers to a movement, step or placing of a limb in back of the body. In reference to a particular step, the addition of derrière implies that the working foot is closed at the back

Dessous (duh-Soo)

Under. Indicates that the working foot passes behind the supporting foot

Dessus (duh -Sew)

Over. Indicates that the working foot passes in front of the supporting foot

Deux

two

Deuxième

second

Devant

in front - refers to a step, movement or the placing of a limb in front of the body. In reference to a particular step the addition of the word "devant" implies that the working foot is closed in the front

Développé

is a movement in which the working leg is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg and slowly extended to an open position en l'air and held there with perfect control. The hips are kept level and square to the direction in which the dancer is facing.

Diagonale, en

a step is to be done traveling in a diagonal direction

Divertissement

diversion, enjoyment; short dances calculated to display the talents of individuals or groups of dancers.

Double

double

A–B   |  C–D  |  E–L  |  M–P   |  Q–Z