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10 Most Important Ballet Terms


The pointes are the tips of the toes. Female dancers, especially, may be trained to dance sur les pointes or on point. Young students are usually not allowed to dance on point until they have completed two or three years of intensive training. They also should be old enough -- at least 11 or 12 years of age -- so that the bones of their feet are fully developed [source:]. If a dancer is sur les demi-pointes, he or she is standing high on the balls of his or her feet.

Dancers may get onto their pointes or demi-pointes in three ways.

  • Piqué (pee-KAY): Pricked, or pricking. The dancer steps directly onto the toe or ball of the working foot, with the other foot raised in the air.
  • Relevé (ruhl-le-VAY): The dancer rises up on the toes or balls of the feet.
  • Sauté (soh-TAY): The dancer jumps and lands on the toes or balls of the feet.

Dancers on point wear pointe shoes, or satin shoes with reinforced toes.

Find more of the language of ballet on the next page.