You don’t need a background in french or ballet to understand a barre class, but familiarizing yourself with basic ballet barre class terms and vocabulary never hurts! If you are a barre newbie, this guide to basic ballet barre terms will definitely help you keep up in class. If you are a barre enthusiast, maybe you’ll learn something new… like what your instructor means when she exclaims “Tuck, tuck, tuck!” at you 🙂
Barre Class Terms and Vocabulary:
- First, Second, and/or Fifth position: The three most commonly used ballet positions (out of five). Check out this complete guide to the Five Basic Ballet Positions for Barre to get a video and written explanations for each of the positions.
- Plié: Literally translated as “bent”, pliés involve bending at the knees. A “demi plié” means “half bent”, and is a smaller plié movement, while a “grand plié” means “big plié”, and requires you to sink as far down as possible.
- Relevé: Translated to “raised”, a relevé requires one to raise the heels off the floor.
- Tuck: This is not actually french, as you may have realized, but the meaning is rather obscure. When your instructor says “tuck”, she is telling you your back is arched, and to stop sticking out your bum. “Tuck” or rotate your derriere underneath your hips, so that your spine is making a straight line.
- Point: This is an instruction to point your toes. If you’re told to point (which you should be doing constantly), then it means your feet are flexed, which is “ugly” in the ballet world.
- Turn out: Turning out is a whole-leg movement, not just the feet. Easiest to identify in first position, with your heels together and your toes pointed out at opposite diagonals, it requires rotating your legs to the side as much as possible, starting at the hips. Imagine a line is drawn down the center of your thighs, knees, shins, and feet, and extends to the corners of the room.
- Passé: One of the most widely-recognized ballet poses. Meaning “passed”, passé is a position in which you balance on one leg and bend the other leg, bringing the foot up past the standing leg’s knee.
- Arabesque: A balancing pose with one leg stretched back and one arm stretched forward. The extended leg may be on the floor, or at 45, 90, or 135 degrees.