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On Pointe (Adagio) - Glossary

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Adagio - A slow passage, movement, or work. A section of a pas de deux in which the ballet dancer and partner perform steps requiring lyricism and great skill in lifting, balancing, and turning.


Pas de deux - A dance duet in which two dancers, typically a male and a female, perform ballet steps together.



Pointe technique- The part of classical ballet technique that concerns pointe work, in which a ballet dancer supports all body weight on the tips of fully extended feet. A dancer is said to be en pointe when the dancer's body is supported in this manner, and a fully extended vertical foot is said to be en pointe when touching the floor, even when not bearing weight. Pointe technique resulted from a desire for female dancers to appear weightless and sylph-like. Although both men and women are capable of pointe work, it is most often performed by women. Typically, years of training and practice are required to develop the strength and technique needed to perform pointe work.


Arabesque - A body position in which a dancer stands on one leg (the supporting leg) with the other leg (the working leg) turned out and extended behind the body, with both legs held straight. In classical ballet, an arabesque can be executed with the supporting leg en pointe or demi pointe or with foot flat on the floor.



Fouetté - Meaning literally "whipped". A turn executed in conjunction with a rapid change in the shape and direction of the working leg as it passes in front of or behind the supporting leg. Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant -  For each turn the dancer stands momentarily on flat foot and in plié, as the working leg is extended then whipped around to the side as the working foot is pulled in to touch behind the supporting knee. That creates the impetus to spin one turn as the dancer executes a relevé, rising onto pointe. Done properly, the dancer remains in place and spins.



Oversplit - In which the angle between the legs exceeds 180 degrees.



Standing split - In which the leg lines are oriented vertically either to the side or to the front. This can also be an oversplit and a front oversplit with the back arched backwards.