10 Most Important Ballet Terms


No listing of important ballet terms could omit the lovely pirouette, another of the images that leap to mind when most people think of ballet.

A pirouette (peer-ooh-WET) is a spin or whirl. Starting in one of many positions -- attitude, arabesque or numerous others -- the dancer makes at least one complete turn. Usually more than one turn is involved. The dancer is on one foot, on pointe or demi-pointe. The position of the arms will vary with the type of pirouette, but the arms remain still to provide the force of the momentum. The dancer's head is the last part of the body to move away from the audience and the first to arrive as the dancer twirls back around toward the audience.

The dancer is usually twirling rapidly in a pirouette. An exception is the supported pirouette. In a supported pirouette, a partner steadies the dancer, and the pirouette may be quite slow.

For more information on classical dance, leap over to the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Ballet Theatre. "American Ballet Theatre Ballet Dictionary." (April 10, 2010) http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html
  • ArtofBallet.com. "Beginners Ballet" (April 19, 2010)http://www.artofballet.com/class2.html
  • DanceHelp.com "Ballet Terminology A-Z." (April 8, 2010)http://www.dancehelp.com/articles/dance-dictionary/ballet-dictionary.aspx
  • George Mason University. "Suzanne K's Ballet Terms. Classical Ballet Terms and Definitions for Beginning Ballet." (April 13, 2010)http://www.dance.gmu.edu
  • Lincoln, Kirsten and Stuart, Muriel. "The Classic Ballet: Basic Technique & Terminology." Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2008.
  • South Dakota State University. "Ballet Terms/Definitions." (April 13, 2010)http://learn.sdstate.edu/melissa_mork/balletterms.htm
  • The World Book Encyclopedia. "Ballet." Vol. 2. World Book, Inc. Chicago, 1984.


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