Ballet is an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. No matter what age you are, you’re never too old to start learning ballet.
Maybe you’re looking for a fun and healthy activity to do, or maybe you just signed your child up for ballet lessons. When you or your child start ballet, you’ll learn all the basics. That includes everything from the language used, to the correct attire, to basic ballet positions for your arms and feet.
Learning ballet may seem daunting at first. Like any other activity, you’ll slowly learn all there is to know about ballet. With lots of practice on portable ballet barres, you will become a seasoned ballet dancer in no time.
Let’s introduce you to six basics to help you get a feel for what ballet will be like:
1. Learn the Lingo
What is a plié, pirouette, or grand jeté? One of the first things you’ll learn when starting out on your ballet journey is the ballet dancers’ language. Most of the language used in ballet is in French. Having a good handle on the language will allow you to understand what your instructor is saying and will be a good introduction to the world of ballet.
Once you have the language down pat, it will start to feel like second nature. Here are some of the basic words:
- Plié: This refers to bending your knees (something you will be doing a lot of in ballet). This can refer to the use of one or two legs.
- Pirouette: This means executing one or more turns.
- Battement tendu: This means extending your leg and pointing your foot.
- Grand jeté: This is a forward jump accompanied by a split.
- En pointe: This term is used for women and means balancing on the tips of your toes. This is accomplished with the aid of pointe shoes.
2. Wear the Right Shoes
Speaking of shoes, one of the most important things you’ll need when doing ballet is pointe shoes. These shoes will allow you to perfect your new ballet moves. Ballet shoes are designed to fit snugly and made of soft fabric, either from canvas or leather. They will allow you to dance on the tips of your toes comfortably.
At the very beginning of your ballet lessons, you’ll actually start by dancing on your bare feet. As you gain experience, you will then move into ballet shoes once you are more comfortable.
3. Wear the Proper Outfit
In addition to ballet shoes, you’ll also need to wear proper attire. This consists of ballet leotard and tights. Ballet leotards are tight-fitting clothing that pairs with tights. Depending on what your ballet instructor suggests, you can purchase a leotard in various styles, including long or short-sleeved.
You will wear the tights underneath your leotard. As with the leotard, the tights come in a variety of styles and colours. Again, it’s best to speak with your instructor to see which colour and style they suggest.
4. Put Your Hair in an Up-Do
Ballet is all about looking neat, tidy, and graceful. For this reason, ballerinas always wear their hair up and out of their faces. Although there are no guidelines on which type of hairstyle you must wear, a bun is always recommended as it’s easy to achieve.
Plus, a bun does a good job of keeping your hair tied back. It’s a good idea to keep some spare elastics nearby in case yours breaks while you’re trying to fix your hair before class.
5. Ballet Foot Positions
Now that we have the bare basics down, we can move into basic ballet positions. To start, let’s touch on ballet foot positions. There are five basic foot positions that you will learn at the beginning of your instruction. Learning these ballet moves will be the foundation for all of the other techniques you will eventually learn.
You’ll notice that you always begin and end each move with the five basic foot positions. You must practice these moves thoroughly and have a good grasp of them. Many seasoned dancers use ballet barres to perfect their movements and positions. With lots of practice, you will essentially learn how to land gracefully and elegantly on your feet.
6. Ballet Arm Positions
Just like the feet, there are also five basic ballet arm positions. You will also learn these at the beginning of your instruction. You should also practice these moves until you have them down pat. These motions will be the foundation for all of the subsequent ballet moves that you learn.
Be prepared to memorize these basic arm positions and pair them with your basic foot positions. We wish you lots of luck in your ballet career and hope you’ll become an expert in due time. Happy dancing!