Beginner Ballet

in Advanced Ballet, Ballet tips, Beginner Ballet, Intermediate Ballet, Uncategorized


I was helping my friend with her pirouette that day. She is a beginner adult ballet dancer, with probably about 10 months in with twice-a-week classes. Understandably, almost every adult ballet dancer I meet are obsessed, or rather, pre-occupied with how to improve their turns.

There is just that something about turns. Even professional dancers and semi-professionals themselves are always working out how to improve them in both quantity and quality.

Unfortunately in the adult ballet dancer’s world, we don’t really get access to slow, repetitious teaching thus, adult ballet dancers are seldom great turners, unless they have been recreational ballet dancers since young. I’m referring to those who has only picked up ballet during their adult years. That’s not to say that I’ve not seen adult ballet dancers nail their turns, doubles even. It is just that majority seldom went beyond a single pirouette. And they generally don’t execute them with quality.

As I was figuring out how to teach turns, I recalled my journey in learning how to do a single pirouette, how I did my first doubles and my accidental triples.

Then I had to do doubles, landing in an open position in an attitude, and how I learned to fouette.

I also remembered how I learned how to do a pique turn, and a lame duck, then all that in a maneage and eventually, I had to do all that en pointe.

I wouldn’t say I am a great turner or I have the most perfect pirouettes. I’m just sharing with you what I have learned, and what helped. I will also share the areas that I’m still struggling in.


Strengthen your ankles

In my first few weeks of learning ballet, I couldn’t releve (stand on demi-pointe/toes) very high. I would get cramps in calves. My ankles will give way. My heel only slightly lifted off the floor. There is no way you can do a pirouette with your heels just slightly off the floor, unless it isn’t a ballet pirouette. There is a big sense of “up” and “high” in a ballet turn. How to strengthen your ankle? Do a lot of ironing-tendus – tendus where you iron your foot through demi-pointe with a straight knee.

Practice Balance

Exercise 1

My first ballet teacher would make us do a tombe or chasse pas de bouree diagonally across the floor into pirouette preparatory position in 4th, then releve with leg in retire. We did that repeatedly for 6 months. This balance is the crux of the turn. Thus, we should focus on the balancing on that leg for a long time, instead of focusing on the turning motion

Exercise 2

An exercise that really helped take away the intimidation of a turn is to do a quarter turn, then plie releve into another quarter turn and stay up as long as possible on demi pointe. Eventually, I would do a larger turning circle, like half, then full circle, then maybe full circle and a bit more, and eventually double turns.

Exercise 3

Start from 5th or 4th position, plie and then releve into pirouette position. Repeat on both sides for as many times as you can. This will help your body enforce that pirouette position into muscle memory.

How PULLED UP are you on your leg?

Be conscious of the pulled-up- torso from leg all the way to the hips to the head. Are you ‘sitting’ on your leg? I I thought I should explain what does this ‘sitting’ mean, since I’ve heard more than one ballet teacher yelling at their students. This ‘sitting’ means ‘slouching of the torso into the hip’. It is more common place than we think. I often like to look around at regular people (non dancers) in the train as I travel home, at how many people are ‘sitting/slouching’ into their hips on the top of their legs. The answer is – almost everyone. I blame our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Many adult ballet dancers were once these regular folks too – thus, there’s a lot of ‘sitting’/slouching action going on in ballet class, and they don’t know it. Who can blame them?

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a teacher who would shout “Supporting leg – MORE UP!!!!” which essentially translates to “STAND TALLER ON YOUR SUPPORTING LEG”. Your supporting leg has to feel as though it is drilling into the ground, and the result of that is the opposing action of your torso, a sense of pull up, and ‘growth’/growing taller, thus, you are more taut in that position.

NOW LISTEN, the pull up action of the torso has to be initiated by the pressing downwards pressure of the foot and the leg. The action of pressing down will cause the torso to grow upwards or what is known as pull up. If you think just about pulling up from the torso, without considering your leg, then what you get is that common ribs out look (sticking your ribs out), or an extremely tensed look with a raised shoulder and stiff neck.

Of course, this applying-downward-pressure-of-the-foot causes a natural opposing force of a pulled-up torso… has to happen without compromising alignment – i.e. tilt of the pelvis or curvature of the spine. The pelvis should be held strongly at neutral (with a lifted feeling off the legs) and you should think about making the spine as long as possible. TIRE BOUCHON, as teacher yells at me. It means corkscrew in french. These are the same opposing forces that happen as you open a champagne bottle.

You can practice this – ensuring that you are extremely pulled up in correct alignment in all 3 exercises for improving pirouettes suggested in the previous section.

Weight Placement

As a beginner dancer, we are less conscious of where we are placing our weight in. If you have just started ballet, you may not understand what I mean by “weight placement”. However, that is essential to ballet. It is one of the most important lessons we have to master, all the way up to advanced levels. Even the professionals are consciously feeling and searching for their weight placement.

What it is referring to – in layman terms, is where is most of your body weight is. If you’re wearing high heels, your weight is actually ‘back’ on the heels of the shoe. Thus, it actually throws your body alignment into a ‘sexier’ pose – your breast are pushed forward, bottom is stuck out, and you have a bigger curve of your lower back. If you’ve been wearing heels for a long time, then kicked them off in exchange for some nice comfy bedroom slippers, you’ll realize that you have to adjust your weight. Initially, you might feel your heels feeling sore, from too much pressing – a muscle memory carried over from high heels. As you adjust your pelvis and alignment naturally, your body is re-calibrating to put more weight over the whole spread of the foot.

In ballet, we must try to put our weight over the ball of our foot as much as possible. This will ensure a more taut body, and one that is more responsive to a wider range of dance movements and quick footwork.

We will also grow more sensitive to where we “place our weight” during movement in dancing, as we advance in technique. The more sensitive you are, the more you can control your body.

Similarly, we have to be more conscious of our weight placement in pirouettes, especially in the beginning, because we’re not so sensitive to our body yet. Ensure that most of your weight is at the ball of the foot before you releve.

The quicker your body understands how to place your weight dynamically, the quicker you will master your turns.


Spotting is not a technique isolated to dancers. Ballroom dancers and other types of dancers have to have a good spot too, otherwise they look and are amateurs. Even ice skaters.

Spotting may be defined ‘whip of the head to the front, before the body turns to that facing’. It helps you prevent dizziness.

In my experience, learning how to spot correctly takes a long time. Or maybe I just didn’t get it as quickly as I should have. My spot is sufficient for a single pirouette, but insufficient for 2 or 3. My ‘2nd’ head is slow and my teacher nags and complains at me all day.

There is also spotting for Chaine, pique turns and lame duck.

There are several theories of how to learn to spot. I’m not sure which ones will work for you but you can try all of them!

Exercise 1

Stand in parallel position with hands on hips and face the mirror. Keep looking at yourself and slowly shuffle your feet as you turn your body away from the mirror. Keep looking at the mirror for as long as you can, then quickly shuffle back to face the front. So in other words, you ‘leave your head/face’ behind and then whip your head quickly to the front.

I had one teacher who told me to tie a pony tail then think about slapping my own face with my pony tail.

Some asked me to imagine being slapped as I turned around.

(Just a note: Some teachers disagree with the above methods and then to start arguing – but I’m not here to argue.)

Exercise 2

Look for a focal point and focus your eyes at that point as you turn. You don’t have to think about anything, you just are dancing and moving and trying to keep your eyes on that point at all times. Sometimes it could be a piano, or a water bottle on top of a piano.

Exercise 3

Look for a general large area, it could be a big grey door. Just remember to keep your face towards the door. I like to imagine that I have to show my face for the photographer to take a picture of. So if I’m doing 3 turns, I need to show my face towards his lens 3 times (I know, it’s so dumb but it works SOMETIMES).


Placement of the arms is important, not just to aid the turn, but it is also for visual aesthetics. Shoulders should be pressed down, elbows lifted, and hands at first position.

What is common in adult ballet dancers are – dropped elbows, arms not held by the back (thus wobbly), and also sometimes, the arms are not central to the body but lopsided to one side.  

I try to think about keeping my hands in front of my belly button. I still don’t have the arms I want in turns.

There are also different theories of how to use the arms in pirouettes.

Theory #1

From 3rd position arms, open to 2nd then bring both arms back to first as you execute the turn.

Theory #2

While the arm is in 3rd position, say, the right hand is in front of belly button, and the left hand is in 2nd position, move arm, leading from elbow, and keep it “moving” along with your body, and share that force with that left hand as you close into 1st position during the turn.

Theory #3

Assuming same arms in 3rd position, the right hand does not move at all, and the left hand is the one that uses force as you bring it into first during the execution of the turn

Regardless of which theory you use, if you can execute a nice looking pirouette, that is really all that matters.

The problem of too much arms

Some dancers use too much arms to force the turn, and as a result, the torso is twisted and the correct ballet alignment cannot be maintained. The twist in the torso works against you. It is almost be impossible to be pulled up correctly. If you do it this way, you might get by with one turn, but not with 2 or 3.

In that few occasions that I teach, I tell these dancers to turn without the arms. Then they are forced to compensate using other muscles (and break their bad habit) , and initiate the turn with their legs. In doing so, they sometimes find the correct pull up. The arms are really used for balance and some force for the turns, but most of the power of the turns come from the legs.

Advanced Technique

The nice turns are UNLIKE SPINNING. Spinning looks like when you successfully spin a coin, it goes round and round evenly.

Beautiful pirouettes have a nice ‘whip’ feeling to it. Like when you whip the air with a piece of ribbon. There is a kind of a stretch before it comes back.

Also, advanced dancers are not just pulled up and on high demi-pointe, their core is strong, arms are held, and their head and neck relaxed.

Before their final turn (say in doubles or trips or quadruples), they tend to pause for a moment in the air, and grow even taller, with a slightly lift with their entire body, hold their for half a second, before landing nicely.

Just something to think about.

My Pirouette Story

How I went from single to doubles to triples and landing in all kinds of positions

After about 4 months of ballet classes, my ankles were stronger, and I could do a sufficiently-high demi pointe during releve.

I was really confused by pirouettes from fifth position, the preparatory position from fourth, closing in 4th or 5th and of course was really confused by en dehor and en dedan. I remember trying desperately trying to figure it out at home. My advice: ASK A FRIEND in the studio! Some time will be needed for the coordination to kick in.


I remember my first attempt to turn. Of course, I didn’t spot, so I turned like a zombie (as though I had no neck and I was a big block of wood). That doesn’t matter, if you can sustain an UP, on your leg, I believe you’re halfway there.

My Japanese teacher I remember would stand at the corner and wave at me, smiling and calling my name. I would respond by looking at him and as a result, I learned to spot. HAHA! (Maybe you could get a friend to try that for you).

There was once on a very very good day, I was turning and nailing my single pirouettes. Your body will just know that it was a good one. My German teacher was proud of me and asked me, “do you know why you are turning well today?” I shrugged my shoulders. He said something that I would never forget. “It is because during the barre, you were on your leg (which means my weight placement was good and correct)”.


But he was also crazy. He would constantly ask me to do doubles, even though my single still kinda sucked. Looking back now. I didn’t agree with most of the things he taught me, but one thing I have to credit him is that he forced me to do doubles, no matter how bad they were, or how I fell and sat on my bum while trying. He made me overcome the fear of doing doubles. After a few dramatic and spectacular falls, I quickly realized I was still alive. Still, I would caution you to be careful, especially those who have weak and extremely flexible ankles (lest you have a strain).

I remember the class where I did doubles. He purposely gave me a combination to extremely fast music, and in concentration to keep up with the music, I had no time to fear, and I just whipped around rather effortlessly. (Maybe that could work for you too.)

I smiled for the whole week long after that. Before bed, I would replay that moment and feeling where I first did my doubles.


I remember both separate days where I did a triple pirouette. As usual, NOBODY SAW. It both happened in a small studio when we had a couple of minutes of our own to practice our turns. For one of the turns, I was at the right corner of the studio, in front of the mirror. I launched into a pirouette and then kept going and realized I turned 3 times. The same thing happened to me doing a double pirouette en pointe.


Spotting and facing/position of the body was very important. I will elaborate on what helped me technically another time. But , I remember watching a random video of a professional over and over again until I could figure out what his legs were doing. Same advice as above, as a friend to show you! At least, nail the coordination down so that the technique can settle in (or concurrently). Eventually I got this. In fact, I felt these turns are the EASIEST TURNS.


I needed a strong releve leg, a pulled up body, and correct placement. I needed to come back to the pirouette position, then lifting before ending it nicely, otherwise I can’t do all the above. Once I understood the technical requirements, and built up sufficient strength. It is all about practicing it carefully, not being slipshod in my work.


I’m generally not afraid of turns, though am nervous with triples with different levels of comfort on different studios. I don’t beat myself up if I can’t turn because turning is not everything! As a beginner adult ballet dancer, I used to judge how good a dancer is by their turns. Now, being a little further along the way, I realize there is so much more to dancing and so much more being a beautiful adult ballet dancer than turns.

However, it is always fun to work on turns.

Lastly, to comfort and encourage all of you who might have a bit of trouble with turns, don’t worry! If you’re a female dancer, all you need are double turns. It is the men who are expected to do 4 and above!


HAPPY TURNING! Hope that my article helped a bit  🙂


Love, Seira

Choosing a suitable ballet class for adult ballet dancers
in Beginner Ballet

How to Choose an Adult Ballet Class

Choosing a suitable ballet class for adult ballet dancers

Choosing a suitable ballet class for adult ballet dancers

And why I prefer the small studio

Not sure which adult ballet class to take? Here is how to choose an adult ballet beginners class. I’ve also shared why I prefer the small studio.”

There are many places to learn ballet or take ballet class. When you first start out, of course, it is good to give every possible class a try. There are many factors to consider when you start to commit to  a class. For most beginners, schedule and location (and sometimes cost) is probably the top priority.

However, as you progress, factors like type of teaching, who is teacher, or studio flooring, type of class, opportunities to perform, the number of students in each class, become more important. Ultimately, everyone decides based on their priorities for ballet.

There is no wrong or right way to choose the right ballet class for you because everyone has different priorities. I can only share with you how I choose my ballet classes.

Factors to consider when choosing a ballet class

These are in no particular order or priority. I will later share about my personal preference.

1. Schedule

As adults, we all have varied and busy lives. It has to fit our schedule. Thus, what you can do is set aside time for class, for instance, I can dance Monday, Thurs nights and Saturday mornings. Then look for classes in your area that fit those times. If ballet becomes higher in your priority, you may find yourself adjusting your schedule to the classes you want to take.

2. Location

Though it is increasingly convenient for us to take class, I’ve noticed that people in my country wouldn’t travel for more than 40 minutes for a class. I’ve traveled up to an hour for each class but I stopped especially for a class I think that is not that worth my time. This is especially for a 1 hour class, the studio flooring and teaching is not that good. Plus, if I did take this class, it would take me 3 hours of my time, 1 hour class + 1 hour there and back. The teacher has to be really good for me to consider travelling really far.

3. Types of teaching

Teaching method differs. Some teachers focus on posture, some tend to focus on expression, some placement, and others position, muscles, musicality and other technicalities of learning ballet. They are all important. However, some may be more important than others depending on what stage you are in learning ballet. Other teaching styles includes a more encouraging atmosphere, a fun environment, or serious and strict style. You may blossom under one teacher or feel down and out with another….it really depends on your learning style.

Generally, teacher that gives you personal corrections are the best. That is of course, unless the teacher is not that good or is sloppy.

4. Teacher

Some teachers are deemed really good that students follow them, even if they switch studios or schools or even levels (beginners/intermediate/advanced)! If that works for you, why not? If you feel that you really enjoy the class or you really progress, this is a good thing. I have two teachers that I follow.

5. Studio flooring

Some studios are really slippery (and you can carry a small bottle of rosin for that), some are not sprung floors, which I feel are important as you progress – because you’ll be doing more jumps and even pointe work. Those are harmful for the knees if the studio does not have a sprung floor.

Other studios may not have sufficient space, either they are too small or they are too small because there are too many students. It can be frustrating to dance in a too small studio.

6. Opportunities to perform

I’ve known some friends who dance at the big open studios but take one class per week at a small ballet school. This is so that they get to participate in the year end concert. Eventually I did that too. Performing is something hard to describe unless you have done it before. As adults, we rarely get this chance to unless we have convince our church/workplace to let us put up a dance at events. One of the ways to get a chance to perform is through your ballet school/studio.

Plus, you’ll get to dress up and wear costumes. Imagine all the photo taking possibilities! (Although, I’m well aware not all adult ballet dancers look forward to this. )

7. Number of students in the class

In general, less students is better because you’ll get more attention, space etc. However, sometimes the teacher is worth squeezing in the class for.

Why I Prefer the Small Studio

When I first started, I went for lots of open classes. These are usually adult ballet classes. It is rare to see anyone younger than 16 and if there are some of those, they are probably practicing learning combinations or doing extra conditioning for their bodies for an exam/performance, OR that their usual studio/ballet school is closed for the holidays.

These classes are good to perhaps introduce you to ballet, learning its terms and steps. It may be a less intimidating environment because almost everyone is a beginner. It is also a less intimate situation where you can just walk in, pay for class, not build any relationship with anybody and walk out if you don’t like the class.

That ‘invisibility’ may make it less intimidating to get started to learn ballet.

After a while, as I progressed, I realized I could progress faster through a small studio (and private lessons).

Benefits of a small studio

1. You are more committed to learning ballet

You pay by term, not by per class

Though this is less flexible for the busy adult, it forces you to make a commitment to going to class, even when you’re feeling lazy. This crucial to your progress in learning ballet.

2. Progressing in class together + extra motivation

Also, because as your classmates are term-payers, you’ll see the same people in class again and again. You’ll learn to build a good working relationship in terms of progressing together. Not to say that it isn’t competitive, but most likely in a good way, especially when everyone is grown up and mature, and that can give extra motivation to work harder in class.

If you have progressed, but because of the new faces in class each week the teacher has to slow down and not teach new steps because of them, you won’t be able to progress either.

3. Teacher is more likely to ‘invest’ in you

The teacher will probably take a more vested interest in you, as she sees you twice a week or every week. She/he gets to know all your habits, limitations, strengths and weaknesses. This is beneficial for you, because the teacher is more adept to see and push your progress. If the teacher sees new faces every week, he/she will not ‘invest’ in their students since they’re not sure how committed – and it would be a waste of time and energy, thus they tend to only correct familiar faces (if you haven’t noticed that already.)

If an open studio is only the choice available for you, try to attend class by the same teacher more regularly, ask questions after class. When the teacher sees you being committed, they tend to give you more personal corrections. (Of course, there are some lazy teachers who still don’t – and only focus on general corrections in class. Then, what you’ll do is personalize those general corrections. Imagine that the teacher is talking to you.)

4. Opportunities to perform + to learn repertoire.

Ballet, after all is a performing art, and if you’re in a small studio, you’ll most likely be roped in for the studio’s year end concert.

In this way, you’ll get to learn repertoire, which are experts from Swan Lake, Coppelia, Sleeping beauty – modified versions but no less, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for these classic ballets. And the next time you watch Swan Lake performed by the Royal Ballet or Bolshoi, you’ll gain such a familiarity with the steps and the music, that you’ll be able to enjoy it at a much greater and sophisticated level.

You most probably won’t get to do this in a large impersonal studio.

5. Ballet Friendships

While ballet class is not social hour, for many of us, it is in some sense. It is the highlight of our week, where we go and de-stress, enjoy, have fun, see friends! Relationships can be built among your friends. You have a common interest and share tips, ideas and help each other other in stretching or with a difficult step. You may all go together to watch the ballet as well!

This is still achievable in big open studios, especially if you notice who are the regulars (as yourself) and eventually friendships are formed.

The friends I’ve made in class has brought a lot of joy to me. There’s always someone to smile to, giggle or even make a joke like grabbing the barre for dear life when we do double pirouettes at the barre(this is not encouraged, but sometimes I do it because I’m goofy.)

Of course, it’s best not to chat to your friends during class because it is not good ballet classroom etiquette and disrespectful to the teacher. It is also not conducive to your learning.

Through my ballet friendships I’ve:

  • always have had someone to go to the ballet to
  • have had gotten discounts on tickets to the ballet especially because we go in groups
  • traded shoes, tights leotards, given away leotards, received leotards
  • combined dancewear orders to get free shipping
  • physiotherapy contacts
  • dance classes referrals
  • website referrals
  • dance teacher referrals
  • coffees/dinners where we talk endlessly about ballet
  • photography jobs where I get paid to pose as a dancer
  • DVD/Youtube referrals (which ones to watch)
  • stretching partners (to sit on you when you need that extra stretch)
  • someone to take a photo of me posing in your ballet gear (for my eyes only! haha
  • analyze steps, or have someone to ask for help
  • reviews about ballet or anything related to ballet
  • had someone I could borrow from something I forgot to bring

and more!

I hope reading this article will help you pick the right ballet classes for you!

A good teacher's ballet eyes are extremely sharp
in Adult Ballet Diaries, Ballet tips, Beginner Ballet

Ballet Eyes

How to develop a good eye for ballet?

A good teacher's ballet eyes are extremely sharp

What are ballet eyes?

What does it mean to have “ballet eyes”?

This means you are able to see what is correct/incorrect in someone’s dancing as well as find ways to improve their dancing (sometimes it isn’t that it is due to incorrect technique, but there is a way to make it look more beautiful).

Beginners/Regular Audience

When you start out as a adult ballet beginner, you would almost have no ‘ballet eyes’ at all. All you can tell is what is nice and nicer. You go with a gut feeling instead knowing how to describe why. You may not be see the differences between who is a pro dancer or and non-pros!

Intermediate Ballet Eyes

You will be able to spot some obvious mistakes. You may start to figure out who is a good dancer. You will not be able to play “what’s wrong with this picture?” but you will be able to judge quite accurately if it is a good picture or not.

Advanced Ballet Eyes

You’ll be able to see obvious mistakes and subtle ones such as wrong weight placement, slightly turned in feet, release of the pelvis, not completely straight knees etc. You’ll be quite accurate determining who is pro or not.

Pro/Teachers Eyes
A good teacher's ballet eyes are extremely sharp

A good teacher’s ballet eyes are extremely sharp

Almost nothing escapes you. You’ll be able to see all the subtle differences. Small details bother you such as angle of the fingers and position of the neck. You have varied opinions of beauty. You will be able to tell what dance style, and the dancer’s strengths/weaknesses.

As you grow in your journey in learning ballet, you’ll start to develop acute observation skills and start to see. This is not meant for you to be judgmental, but it is to be more aware of your technique and how to make it (your dancing) more beautiful. It is also a more sophisticated skill on how to appreciate ballet.

How to develop ballet eyes?

It usually comes naturally and for some people, it is inborn for them to have a keen eye. The more you watch ballet both live or on your computer or the television, the more consciousness you’ll develop as your brain makes more connections. Meanwhile, trust your teacher’s eye!

Ballet pencil test
in Ballet tips, Beginner Ballet

Ballet Pencil Test (Pelvis Placement)

For years and years, I couldn’t understand why teachers from all the different ballet classes that I had been attending kept harping on my ballet posture placement.

They either use both hands to adjust my hip, scratch my hip flexor area, or kept shouting at me to keep my stomach in, or ribs in or a “short stomach”.

For many frustrated minutes, I would stare at my other ballet classmates at their torso area. I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one getting this correction. Did all these ballet teachers from different studio have some internal communication network? Why do they all say the same thing to me?

I didn’t have the ballet eyes then (mine has since grown in power in terms of observation skills) so I was baffled.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my placement, I couldn’t figure out what is wrong with me (compared to the rest!).

Until I had the opportunity to be trained by an South African ex-pro-dancer and now mentor senior teacher. She simplifies it down to what she calls the PENCIL TEST.

Ballet pencil test

Ballet pencil test


You should be able to place a pencil flat against your pelvic/hip bone at the area where it is connected to the thigh. Place the middle of the pencil where it bends (like when you sit). So, the test is that the pencil is flat against your body. It should be this shape “|” and not “<“.

Now, some of you may achieve this right away. If you are like me, who kept getting corrected, it could be because you’ve been sitting too much, resulting in a tightness in the pelvis area. I had an anterior pelvic tilt like this picture below.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt  - an incorrect pelvis placement for ballet

Anterior Pelvic Tilt – an incorrect pelvis placement for ballet

You would need to do some stretches, or deep tissue massages, foam rolling to release the tightness in order to have an easier time attaining the right ballet posture.

Hope you find the ballet pencil test tip useful!

in Beginner Ballet, Uncategorized

Basic Ballet Positions

Foundations at the barre – Basic ballet positions of the feet and arms explained.

Poise, line and beauty are developed in the art of classical ballet.

Even for the simplest movements, correct training is essential. Correct training starts from establishing a firm foundation and good ballet habits. This foundation starts from learning these basic ballet positions.

Every new step learned comes from these basic ballet positions of the arms and feet. Learn them properly so you’ll feel more confident learning new steps and dancing. This is to ensure you’ll able to have a secure start and finish for a dance or a movement.

Once these basic positions are performed correctly and precisely and become second nature to you, you’ll be able to focus more on feeling and expression.

Basic Ballet Positions

Different ballet schools call the positions by different names, but here are some basic ballet positions for the arms and feet.

In a beginner’s ballet class, you’ll be expected to know these positions. That is unless of course, you’re taking a ballet basic or foundation class.

Positions of the Feet

In most foundation ballet classes, you’ll start your class learning these basic positions of the feet.

First Position


Turn your toes out to the side with your heels touching. Though, remember to turn out from the hip, not your knees.

At the beginning, you’ll find that you won’t be able to turn out very far, but this will improve over time.
See also how to improve your turn out or Tune up Your Turnout a Dancer’s Guide (The Body Series)

Second Position


Turn out your toes on the same line as first position but stand with your feet apart (about 1.5 length of your foot).
Remember to center your weight equally over each foot.

Third Position


Cross one foot halfway in front of each other. This position is seldom used in adult ballet and used only if you have difficulty
assuming fifth position.

Fourth Position


This is called an open-fourth position


Feet are turned out but apart (length of one foot). If feet are directly opposite each other, it is called a closed fourth position.
If they are not, it is called an open fourth position.

Fifth Position


Your feet should be turned out, fully crossed. Ideally, the goal is to work for each feet to be touching each other firmly.


Picture reference: idaorhythm

Position of the Arms

Bras Bas (Preparatory Position)

Bras bas or preparatory position: both arms are down and rounded with both hands just in front of the hips, fingers almost touching.

The little ones show us Bras bas position.

The little ones show us Bras bas position.

First position: maintaining the curved shape, arms are brought up so that the tips of the fingers are in line with the navel or no higher than the sternum.

Second position: arms are out to the sides, angled down and forward, with palms facing forward. Elbows are slightly lower than the shoulders, and wrists are level with the elbow.

Third position: arms are curved as in first position and raised just above and slightly forward of the head.

Fifth position: arms are extended above your head, slightly frontwards, as arms maintain a gently curved line. Shoulders must be kept down.