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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Basic Positions of the Feet in Ballet Dancing

In Ballet Dancing, there are 5 basic positions of the feet, which anybody doing ballet should be able to demonstrate for you.  These positions are the foundation positions from which you will always start or end a step or series of steps in your ballet dancing.  The basic positions of the feet are all turned out positions, as you will see below.

The basic positions of the feet for ballet were not invented by any one person at any particular time.  The basic positions grew from the steps of court dances all those years ago, when it was agreed upon that a delicately pointed and turned out foot looked attractive.

The turned out positions developed gradually and they were first written about in France in the seventeenth century, but the full turn out that we recognise today didn’t come about until the following century.  Before that dancers had realised the importance of beautiful line, but did not have the necessary technique to achieve those lines.  Some even used artificial aids to keep them turned out.  Turning out from the hips allows dancers far more freedom to develop the steps into beautiful lines and dances.

First Position of the Feet:
In this basic position of the feet, your legs are together with the heels touching. The feet aim to form a straight line.  In this position the dancer must be conscious of her posture.  Weight should be evenly balanced between the feet, and dancer must stand tall and straight with head held.  The body should have the feeling of lifting from the hips, and there should be no sense of strain.  Breathing should remain even and deep from your diaphragm, as you will be using a lot of extra oxygen during your ballet dancing.

Second Position of the Feet:
Your feet should be in the same shape as your first position, but spaced about one and a half lengths of your foot apart.  The weight of your body must be shifted to balance over your feet evenly.

Third Position of the Feet:
The turned out feet are partly crossed so that the heel of the front foot fits into the hollow of the instep of the back foot.  You don’t see this position very often during performances, but it is a stepping stone for ballet pupils towards the much more difficult fifth position.

Fourth Position of the Feet:
There are two versions of the fourth position.  Firstly you will learn open fourth position.  This looks a lot like first position, but the one foot is about 12 inches in front of the other.  Crossed fourth position looks like fifth position with one foot in front of the other, also about 12 inches apart.  Fourth position is used a lot to precede strong turning movements.

Fifth Position of the Feet:
This is by far the most difficult position to achieve, but if you master a good third position, fifth position will be a natural progression forwards.  The ballet dancer aims to get the heel of the front foot against the toe of the back foot, while maintaining full turnout from the hips.


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