In ballet, there are eight (8) body positions that dancers must know and are executed prior to any other steps. The 8 body positions in ballet are common and used in every ballet school. Here are the 8 positions in order:

  1. Croisé Devant
  2. Quatrième Devant
  3. Effacé Devant
  4. à la Seconde
  5. Croisé Derriere
  6. Ecarté
  7. Epaulé
  8. Quatrième Derrière

Now, if you’re looking for some more detail on these 8 body positions, then you’ll find it below.

The 8 body positions stem from the French language, and learning exactly what they mean requires a little brush up on the old French vocabulary (you can find more ballet terms and definitions here).

Devant: To the front
Derrière: To the back (close to the rear)
Croisé: Crossed alignment
Seconde: To the second position (lateral)
Ècarté: Separated or thrown wide apart
Effacé: Shaded
Epaulé: Shouldered

You’re probably saying to yourself, “But these definitions aren’t the 8 body positions!”

And yes. You’re right. That’s because you create the positions from mixing different terms, which we’ll explain below.

8 Body Positions in Ballet in Order, Explained.1. Croisé Devant

Croisé Devant is a position where the dancer stands facing a corner at an angle to the audience. The dancer’s leg closer to the audience is known as the working leg, and is extended in the fourth position, pointing on tendu to the front. The dancer’s arms are in the fourth position, with the lower arm on the same side as the extended leg.

2. Quatrième Devant

Quatrième Devant is where the dancer faces the audience with the working leg extended in the fourth position. The working leg is pointing on tendú to the front with the arms in second position and head facing the audience.

3. Effacé Devant

Effacé Devant is when the dancer stands angled to the audience, facing a corner. From this position, part of the dancer’s body is hidden. The leg further from the audience is the working leg and extended in the fourth position. The working leg is pointing on tendú to the front. In this position, the dancer’s arms are places in fourth position with the lower arm on the same side as the extended leg.

4. à la Seconde

à la Seconde is when the dancer is facing the audience with the working leg extended in the second position. The working leg will be pointing on tendú to the side with the arms in second position, and the dancer’s head facing the audience.

5. Croisé Derriere

Croisé Derriere is when the dancer is facing a corner at an angle to the audience. The dancer’s leg further from the audience will become the working leg and will be extended in the fourth position. The working leg will be pointing on tendú to the back with the arms placed in fourth position. The lower arm will be on the same side as the extended leg.

6. Ecarté

Ecarté is when the dancer is facing any corner, and the leg closer to the audience becomes the working leg. The working leg will be extended in second position, pointing to the side on tendú. The dancer’s arms will be open in the fourth position so the highest arm is on the same side as the extended leg. The dancer’s head will be slightly raised, turned to the raised arm with the eyes looking at the hand of the raised arm.

7. Epaulé

Epaulé is when the dancer stands at an oblique angle to the audience. While at this angle, the dancer will be standing in arabesque facing a corner. The working leg is the one closest to the audience. The dancer’s working leg will extended to the back in fourth position, and the arm closes to the audience will be extended to the front, and the head will be raised and turned slightly towards the audience.

8. Quatrième Derrière

Quatrième Derrière is when the dancer faces the audience with the working leg extended to the fourth position. The working leg in fourth position will be pointing on tendú to the back, and the arms will be in second position, while the head faces the audience.

These are the 8 body positions in ballet, and they can also be done with the working leg en l’air. This may all seem confusing to beginners but with experience it will become like second nature. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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