Classical Ballet Reference Dictionary

• a la seconde
To the side or in the second position.
A la seconde usually means a movement done by the feet to the side such as a 'tendu', 'glisse' or 'grand battement.
Technically challenging type of turn is a pirouette a la seconde, where the dancer spins with the working leg in second position in a la hauteur.
This turn is typically performed by male dancers because of the advanced skills required to perform it correctly. It is seen as the male counterpart of fouettes en tournant.

• a terre ah tehr'
On or to the floor; the earth.

• adagio ah-dazj'-eh-oh
Slow. A slow, sustained movement.
dagio (Italian), adage (French), meaning "at ease", refers to slow, enfolding movements, performed with great fluidity and grace.
In a grand pas (or classical pas de deux, grand pas d'action, etc.), the adagio is usually referred to as the grand adage, and often follows the entree. This adage is typically the outward movement of the grand pas where the female dancer is partnered by the lead male dancer, or one or more suitors, or both.
In ballet, adagio does not refer to the music accompanying the dance but rather the type of balletic movement being performed. For example, in Swan Lake the grand adage of the Black Swan Pas de deux is musically andante, whereas the movement is adagio.
In a classical ballet class, the adagio part of the lesson concentrates on slow movements to improve dancers' ability to control the leg and increase extension (i.e., to bring the leg into high positions with control and ease).
Adagio combinations typically occur in the centre following exercises at the barre, and consist of principal steps such as plie, developpe, attitude, arabesque, and grande rond de jambe.

• allegro ah-leh-groh'
Fast. Jumps performed to a quick, sharp tempo.
Grand allegro: large jumps.
Petite allegro: small jumps.
Meaning brisk, lively.
A term applied to all bright, fast, or brisk movements. ll steps of elevation in ballet fall under the term 'allegro' such as sautes, soubresauts, changement, echappe, assmeble, jete, assemble, sissone, entrechat, and so on.
The majority of dances, both solo and group, are built on allegro.
The most important qualities to aim at in allegro are lightness, smoothness and ballon.

• allonge aa-lohn-jay'
To elongate; to stretch.
Means to "ellongate" adjective describing a position as stretched out or made longer, often used with arabesque.

• plomb
Refers to stability of the position.

• arabesque ah-rah-besk
A pose on one leg with the other leg extended to the back; originally, a flourished, curved line used in Arabic motifs.
Arabesque is the position of the body supported on one leg, with the other leg extended behind the body with the knee straight. The standing leg may be either bent, in plie, or straight.
Arabesque is used in both allegro and adagio choreography.
The working leg is placed in 4th open, a terre (on the ground) or en l'air (raised).
Armline defines whether this is 1st, 2nd or 3rd Arabesque.

• assemble ah-sahm-blay'
To assemble; a jump from one foot landing on two feet.
Example: from 5th position brush the back leg to the side 45° as the supporting leg bends at the knee, then jump off the floor, land on both legs in 5th position at the same time.
Sometimes also pas assemble.
Literally "assembled". jump from two feet to two feet, where the working leg performs a battement glisse/degage, "swishing" out.
With the dancer launching into a jump, the second foot then swishes up under the first foot.

• attitude
Position in which the dancer stands on one leg (known as the supporting leg) while the other leg (working leg) is lifted and well turned out with the knee bent at approximately 90-degree angle.
The lifted or working leg can be behind (derriere), in front (devant), or on the side (a la seconde) of the body.
In some styles of ballet, such as RD, the foot should be below the knee, creating an obtuse angle at the knee.
In others, such as the Balanchine and Russian styles, the foot must be in line with the knee or above it, creating an angle that is 90-degrees or less.
The attitude position can be performed with the supporting leg and foot either en pointe, demi pointe or on a flat foot.

• a vant
"Forwards", to the front, as opposed to arriere.
A step travelling en avant moves forwards, towards the audience.