Basic Positions

In classical ballet all steps and movements begin and end in one of the five positions of the feet. These positions were first established by Pierre Beauchamps of the Académie Royale de Danse, later the Paris Opera Ballet School, during his tenure from 1671 to 1687. The five positions are performed with legs turned out from the hip. Turnout is very important to ballet dancers as it gives a dancer the freedom to move in any direction.  Young dancers may not have 180-degree turnout when they begin, however over time turnout improves with strength and flexibility.

"Port de bras" means the carriage of the arms, which should be performed as a seamless and flowing movement from the shoulder. Arms are softly rounded and are rarely angular in classical ballet. When a dancer moves his or her arms, it is important that the shoulders stay down and the neck stays long.

SF Ballet School students in class. (© Erik Tomasson)