How did balançoire get its name? The answer lies in visualizing the movement and the line created by the swing of the upper and lower body as it moves on the fulcrum of the supporting hip.

Today balançoire can refer to either a seesaw or a swing, seesaw being the more ancient of these two references, but swing being the more common. In either of these pieces of playground equipment, we can find the line of the ballet balançoire.

Balançoire is prounounced [balɑ̃swaʀ]. Bal- is pronounced like the beginning of the word ballet in English. (The English is not far from the French in this case. The English pronunciation would pull the corners of the mouth back at the vowel, while the French would keep the mouth slightly rounder and more open.) -an- would be like “ah” but with sound passing through both the mouth and nose since this is a nasal vowel (the n not a clear n sound as it would be in English). -çoire is proncounced “sw” + “are.”

The action of balançoire takes place both above and below the waist. As the dancer’s leg brushes forward in a battement (dégagé or grand battement for example) the torso tips back. The dancer’s leg can then pass through first position traveling to the back. As the leg travels back, the dancer’s torso tips forward. The movement of the working leg is similar to that of battement cloche, but balançoire incorporates the tip of the torso.

When the leg is kept at a low height, dancers can visualize a swing on a chain. Imagine the top of the head as the top of the chain and picture the straight line extending down through the working leg to the low extension. Because the upper body moves in opposition of the working foot, a dancer can imagine the swing arcing from front to back. With a high leg, I prefer the image of a seesaw with the supporting hip acting as the fulcrum of the seesaw, but you can certainly keep the swing imagery if you imagine that the leg swings from front to back or back to front or that the body takes the position of a person seated on a swing. As the leg swings forward the leg is outstretched and the upper body tipped back as it would be when seated on a swing, however, I find this imagery less convincing in arabesque.


Sissonne is one of those unique ballet terms that doesn't originate in the movement itself, and yet it is one of the earliest recorded terms. Most commonly attributed to le François César de Roucy, le Comte de Sissonne, sissonne was likely named for its creator and for the simple fact that he excelled at this step. 

The dancers in the court of King Louis XIV were not professional dancers as we think of them today. All noblemen were trained in dance and comportment, and those who happened to be at Versailles often danced in the ballets put on at the court. Le Comte de Sissonne was a page de la grande écurie at the court of Louis XIV so it is highly likely that he participated in the performances and the training.

Sissonne is pronounced [sisɔn].  Si- is pronounced similarly to "see" in English.  -ssonne- sounds like “sun” but the u sound is a cross between the u in “sun” and the o in “on.” The n is pronounced at the end of the word.

A sissonne is performed by jumping off of two feet and landing on one. It can travel in any direction and can finished with the second leg lifted or closing into a crossed position (3rd or 5th). Sissonne can also be performed as a chassé relevé (usually in pointe work). Both forms are darting movements.

NOTE: I’ve often seen sissonne described as or confused with scissors. (Scissors are ciseaux in French). I’ve also read in ballet posts that sissonne means split but I can find no evidence of this. If scissors present good imagery for your dancers, use the idea, but be sure to reinforce that this step is named for a person, rather than for the object.

Pas de cheval

Pas de cheval means the step of the horse.  While a horse might seem an odd creature to emulate, they were an extremely important animal during the period that encompassed the formalization of ballet. Horses were transportation, status, work animals, and warriors. There were royal stables, and le Comte de Sissonne, for whom the step sissonne was named, began as a page of the royal stable (a great honor for him and his family). The rules of l’Équitation classique, classical rules of horse riding and training, were also formalized in the 17th century. In short, the horse and its movements were familiar to all, and the upper classes were trained in all of the arts: fencing, dance, music, oratory, horseback riding, and more.

Our modern translation of pas comes from the common usage.  Un pas is a step of the foot or a figurative step.  In ballet pas is slightly more complicated as it indicates the ensemble of small movements that make up a "step," as we now call it.  In other words, pas de cheval is not a single movement but an ensemble of movements.  Cheval means horse.

Pas de cheval is pronounced [pɑ də ʃ(ə)val].  Pas is pronounced like "pa" in the first syllable of the English papa. De is pronounced like you're practicing the sound a D makes in English.  And cheval - sounds like "sh" + “vol” put together (“vol” as in the beginning of the word volleyball in English - our English vowels are a bit different but this is the closest equivalent).

Pas de cheval is a scooping movement often performed at the barre in conjunction with dégagé.  The movement can begin in a crossed position (3rd or 5th) or from a battement that passes through a crossed position, the dancer’s working foot will slide further into a crossed position, with the ball of the working foot approaching the arch of the supporting foot as the heel of the lifted foot peels of the ground. The working foot moves through a cou-de-pied position (devant or derrière depending on the direction that the movement will travel and the pattern of the combination). Following this scoop to cou-de-pied, the working leg extends out from the cou-de-pied, touches the floor with a fully extended leg, and draws back into a crossed position (3rd or 5th) to close.

Even your youngest dancer can usually picture the way a horse paws at the ground, and this is excellent imagery for pas de cheval.

See the video below of a horse pawing at the ground.

En croix

En croix, meaning in the shape of a cross, has become the modern foundation of barre work patterning, but it actually rests on the vestiges of an ancient cultural foundation.  La croix means the cross, a timeless symbol, but can one be en croix?  Does the origin of this term go beyond the basic symbol of a cross?

En croix is pronounced [ɑ̃ kʀwa].  En- sounds almost like "on" in English except that the n isn't pronounced and the vowel sound comes through both the nose and the mouth.  -croix- sounds like the combination of k + w followed by an open "ah" sound.

Any type of battement can be performed en croix meaning that the action of the working leg traces the outline of a cross, moving devant, à la seconde, derrière or derrière, à la seconde, devant.

The movement is simple so let's get back to those ancient foundations.  By laying a cross flat, you can imagine the action of following the lines of the cross with the working leg, but as a dancer and as a teacher, this always seemed contrived to me.  It wasn't until much later that I realized how en croix could be interpreted in a different, more physical way.  La croix also means the point where the nave and the transept of the church or cathedral meet.  If one were standing en croix, one would be standing in the middle of a giant cross intentionally laid flat through architectural design.

Whether the original intention was a simple cross or the architectural intersection of the church, the cross and cathedral were familiar to all classes in France from the time of the first cathedrals (long before the codification of ballet), which were built by the faithful who believed their back breaking work on these structures brought them closer to God.  It's unclear during which time period en croix was brought into ballet vocabulary, it is likely that it was used long before it was ever officially defined or included in the dictionaries of dance that were created.  It was an idea and a shape so common that definition likely remained unnecessary for a great number of years.

Pas de chat

Pas de chat means simply the step of the cat.  Relatively speaking, pas de chat is a more modern step in the ensemble of ballet history.  Generally speaking, the steps became larger and bouncier as time went on.  As late as 1895, there is no trace of this now common step in the Dictionnaire de la danse by G. Desrat, which is a very detailed guide delving into the history, theory, practice, and bibliography of dance.

Our modern translation of pas comes from the common usage.  Un pas is a step of the foot or a figurative step.  In ballet pas is slightly more complicated as it indicates the ensemble of small movements that make up a "step," as we now call it.  In other words, pas de chat is not a single movement but an ensemble of movements.  Chat means cat, as in your ordinary house cat.

G. Desrat.   Dictionnaire de la danse.  [Pas - theoretically, we call  pas  the combination of several movements of the foot.]

G. Desrat.  Dictionnaire de la danse.
[Pas - theoretically, we call pas the combination of several movements of the foot.]


Pas de chat is pronounced [pɑ də ʃa].  Pas is pronounced like "pa" in the first syllable of the English papa. De is pronounced like you're practicing the sound a D makes in English.  And chat - sounds like "sh" and "ah" put together.  Resist the American temptation to add a W sound to the end of chat. 

Pas de chat is a bounding movement often performed in petit and grand allegro and is similar in movement to the pounce of a cat.  Beginning in a crossed position (3rd or 5th), the dancer performs a demi plié, the leading foot pulls up and through retiré as the dancer springs off the supporting foot.  The supporting foot also pulls up and through a retiré position allowing both feet to be lifted underneath the dancer in a retiré position simultaneously.  The first foot to lift is also the first foot to land in demi plié and the second foot follows the first back into a crossed position in demi plié.

I've heard several different explanations of cat imagery associated with pas de chat.  The two most frequent are that the thighs in mid-jump create the arched back of an angry cat and that the jump itself is similar to the pounce of a cat.  I've always preferred the imagery of a pounce.  The initial plié representing the low twitchy preparation of the cat, the up and over the cat's flight through the air, and the landing the success of the attack.  I often imagine the landing plié as the cat's effort to keep that little mouse under its paws.

See the videos below for the physical similarities between the dancer's pas de chat and the pounce of the cat.

Find more videos on the Royal Ballet's feed on Youtube.


Chaîné in modern French means chained or bound, and the origin of châiné in dance seems to come from very early social dances.  What we know as chaîné (or chaîné déboulé) today may have been highly influenced by one of these social dances in particular.

Chaîné is pronounced [ʃɛne].  Ch- is pronounced like "shhh" in English. -ai is pronounced like "e" in dress.  And -né - sounds like "nay" but without the final y sound being pronounced.

Chaîné is performed by taking two steps to complete one full revolution of a turn, each step resulting in a half turn, and generally continues for multiple revolutions.  The speed of chaîné turns is highly variable and, as such, the turns are generally assigned a length of music (or time) rather than a number of steps.  The steps should remain of equal size.

It is often helpful for the dancer to imagine that he/she is stepping on the links of a chain or that the ankles are chained together to achieve the short even steps necessary for a series of chaîné turns.

Looking backwards on chaîné turns, we find two entries in the 1787 Dictionnaire de danse defining chaîné as "contredanse,"  which is basically social dance performed in groups of 4s and 8s, and "Danse ancienne qui se faisait en tenant une corde, ou en se tenant par la main, ce qui faisait une sorte de chaîne."  Imagine first a social dance where the participants change place, taking and releasing hands as they move weave through each other.  If observed from above, the crossing of bodies would create the shape of a chain.  The second entry translates to an "old dance that is done while holding a cord (or string) or holding hands which makes a sort of chain."  The first part of this entry is quite interesting as one imagines either weaving or turning while holding a string.  I have seen teachers introduce chaîné in exactly this fashion, asking dancers to hold one end of a string and to roll towards the fastened end and then unroll. 


Échappé means to escape OR to no longer be held back/restrained.  Both variations of the definition fit the movement perfectly and the variation can even be helpful in distinguishing between échappé sauté and échappé sur les pointes. 

Échappé is pronounced [eʃape].  É sounds like the pronunciation of the letter A (be sure not to include a y sound on the end), ch sounds like shhh, a sounds like a soft open A sound, ppé sounds like pay (without the final y).

Échappé whether performed as a sauté or sur les pointes is a movement beginning in a closed, crossed position such as 5th or 3rd position, opening to fourth or second position, and returning to a closed, crossed position.

Échappé sauté fits perfectly with the simple definition "to escape."  The feet jump apart and then back together.  Your littlest dancers will love the idea that the feet escape their 5th position to land in second and then get "caught" again back in 5th, and your older dancers will hold on to this image as a way to retain the vocabulary.  Imagine that each foot is a friend who got caught being naughty, both friends run in different directions, but both get caught again.  The movement is quick and and exciting.  This movement can also be performed with the feet jumping to fourth.

I love to relate échappé sur les pointes to the second variation of the definition.  The dancer performs a plié in the closed position, releases the feet that then slide apart to second or fourth, and then, with control, pulls the two escapees back in to the closed position.  The idea that the dancer is holding the feet back in fifth and allowing them to slide apart to the open position creates a better action for pointe work and helps avoid the pounce that often happens with dancers new to pointe.


Cabriole in modern French means simple an agile jump, however this could apply to most jumps in ballet.  The origin of the cabriole creates a great mental image for your dancers and may even elicit a few giggles.

Cabriole is pronounced [kabʀijɔl].  Cab- is pronounced similarly to "cab" in English except that the A sound is slightly softened by opening the mouth wider.  -bri- sounds like the bree of "breeze." And -iolesounds like "yull."

A cabriole is performed when a dancer jumps off the supporting leg, bringing it up to beat against the lifted leg.  It is very commonly performed when the dancer executes a temps levé en arabesque and the supporting leg does a sauté, lifting to beat against the leg that is already lifted in arabesque.

While cabriole is an agile jump and is often translated by the word caper, few teachers know its origins.  Cabriole is borrowed from Italian and related to the word capra, which means goat.  Imagine goats bounding into the air.  Their legs often seem to tuck up underneath them or even to touch each other.  Encourage your dancers to have fun with cabriole as it is associated with the joyous bounds of goats and in modern French and Italian is considered a playful movement.

Temps de Flèche

Temps de flèche is the ensemble of movements that come together to mimic its name.  (If you haven't read the entry on the different meanings of temps, click HERE to catch up.)  Flèche, meaning arrow, represents the bow and arrow illusion created by the movement of the dancer's legs.

Temps de flèche pronounced [tɑ̃ d flɛʃ].  Temps is pronounced like "ta," with an open-mouthed ah sound which comes out of both the nose and mouth.  De sounds as if you're practicing the sound of the letter D.  Flèche is pronounced similarly to the word "Flesh" in English.

The quick action as the dancer's legs pass each other in the air creates both the arc of the bow and the spring of the arrow.  The dancers first leg brushes out and up in an arc as he or she performs a grand battement devant.  The impetus of this action begins the dancer's ascent and the swoop of the leg creates the image of the archer's bow.  At the height of the battement the dancer draws the working leg back toward retirée as the supporting leg simultaneously springs up and past the descending foot, performing a développé devant.  The developpé of the second leg represents the archer's arrow as it flies from his bow. 

Imagine the archer's action as he fires a bow.  The archer raises the bow with the curve facing away from the body, pulls back with the firing arm, and lets the arrow fly.  The dancer "raises the bow" with the battement, pulls back the firing arm by pulling back the first leg, and fires the arrow by "shooting" the second leg up and through développé. 


Temps levé, temps de cuisse, contretemps:  What does temps mean in ballet?  The short answer is that it's not a short answer.

Generally temps means time in French, but when applied to music, temps deals with rhythm.  For example, un rythme à deux temps would be a steady even rhythm, and in some cases, this is how we use the word temps in ballet.  A contretemps falls into this category, being literally a step that goes against the beat.

But temps can also mean a movement that makes up part of a whole.  As defined in the Trésor de la langue française, temps can refer to "chacun des mouvements qui s'enchaînement pour former un mouvement complexe." [Translation:  each of the movements that link together to form a complex movement.]  It seems clear how this applies to temps de cuisse or temps de flèche where several small movements come together to form a whole step. (These terms will be explored further in upcoming posts)

But what about temps levé or temps lié?  Often temps when used in this way is defined as time.  Temps levé: time lifted.  Temps lié: time linked.  These definitions do give an idea of the lifting and linking of steps, but we also have to take into consideration that temps can mean a movement of the leg.  Temps levé en arabesque could mean the ensemble of movements that make up that action or the lift of the leg.  As we know though, temps levé can be performed in multiple positions. 

Referring back to the Dictionnaire de danse from 1787, we can see the origins of this term which has clearly evolved in meaning and movement into our modern variations.  I give you here a modern French translation "En matière de danse, il se fait des pas qu'on appelle Temps, mais qui ne doivent pas être confonus avec les pas de bourrée.  Quoique leurs premiers mouvements se prennent de même, ils ne se terminent pas de la même manière; ce temps est plié et levé, et on porte le pied à côté sans le glisser, ce qui fait la différence de l'un à l'autre; par exemple, ayant le corps posé sur le pied gauche, à la quatrième position, vous pliez dessus, et vous vous relevez en portant le pied droit à côté , à la deuxième position, en ne posant que la pointe du pied, et vous restez un temps pour reprendre un autre pas, . . .  on fait ensuite un autre pas qui paraît plus animé"  [Translation:  In dance, there are steps that we call temps, but which must not be confused with the pas de bourrée.  Even if their first movements are the same, they do not end in the same manner, ce temps is bent (or plié) and lifted, and one carries the foot to the side without sliding/brushing, which makes the different between the one and the other; for example, having the weight positioned on the left foot, in fourth position, you plié on it, and you relevé carrying your right foot to the side, to second position, putting only the point of the foot on the floor, and you stay a moment before taking another step, . . . you then do another step that is more animated.]  In modern dance, this strict definition has been incorporated into other movement, but if you visualize early dancers and the evolution from court dances to ballet, you can picture the rise from plié to relevé coming down with a stretched foot before being followed by another movement.


Soubresaut in modern French can mean a sudden start, a spike, a jolt, or a blip in data.  When you think of soubresaut as a line of data on a graph, imagine that the data continues in a steady line and then suddenly spikes higher only to fall back to its initial flat line.  Now, picture the dancer springing into the air and landing back in their plié.  The similarity of movement is clear: a forceful spring followed by a descent.

You could also imagine the "sudden start" as the everyday version of the ballet action.  Someone comes up behind you unexpectedly causing you to jump in surprise before realizing that it is an old friend.  The sudden jump is comparable to the springing ballet action.

The origin of soubresaut also helps to describe the movement.  Soubre is the Old French version of sur meaning "on top of."  Saut means to jump.  A soubresaut means a jump on top of itself, which again supports the image of the startle reaction.

Soubresaut pronounced [subʀəso].  "Sou" sounds like the SOU of the English word soup, "bre" sounds like a B + the beginning of the word reverse, "saut" sounds like the English word so but with rounded lips (similar to the word sew but without the final W).

Soubresaut is the action of performing a spring into the air from 5th position and landing in the same 5th position, without changing the feet.  The legs cling together in fifth position in the air.  Imagine that you are standing on top of a spring.  You plié and then shoot into the air, coming back down gently on top of the spring.

A spring from fifth position without a change of feet is commonly agreed upon as a soubresaut, but there is disagreement about the necessity for this movement to travel.  In its simplest form the soubresaut is considered to go up and down on top of itself, landing in the dancer's own footprints.  In some schools of thought, the soubresaut always springs forward, carrying the dancer with straight body and tightly held legs en avant.  Still other schools define the soubresaut as traveling in any direction.  What do you think?  Does the soubresaut have to travel?


Fondu in its purest form is used throughout ballet class and plays an important role in strength and control.

Fondu is often described as a sinking motion, but etymologically, it is more closely related to melting than sinking.  It is the action of transforming a solid into a liquid or of softening both a physical object or a sentiment.  Fondre can represent the melting of an object like cheese or the softening of emotions.

Fondu pronounced [fɔ̃dy].  "Fon" sounds like F + on but the O in "on" is pronounced with an open mouth and the sound comes out of the mouth and nose at the same time (trying not to pronounce the N), "du" sounds like the English word due but the U sound is made with round lips and the lower jaw slightly distended.  (This is a U sound that we don't have in English).

Fondu is the action of performing a plié on the supporting leg or softening the supporting knee, generally while bringing the working leg to a cou-de-pied position.  We often perform this as battement fondu or battement fondu développé in which the supporting leg and the working leg lengthen and straighten simultaneously.  I like to use the imagery of pulling taffy or dipping bread into melted cheese.

It's important to note that although the definitions imply a softening, melting, or sinking, the musculature is constantly engaged in the action of fondu.  The musculature works differently as the dancer performs the plié but fondu can be used to strengthen the dancer's work in general and on a single leg.


Devant/en avant, Derrière/en arrière

Devant versus en avant and derrière versus en arrièreDevant and en avant are sometimes used interchangeably, as are derrière and en arrière.  What's the difference? One is stationary while the other is traveling.

Devant pronounced [d(əә)vɑ̃].  "De" sounds as if practicing the sound a D makes, "vant" sounds like v + the soft open A sound coming through both the nose and mouth at once (trying not to pronounce the "nt" because their presence indicates the nasal sound of the A)

En avant pronounced [ɑ̃ avɑ̃].  "En" sounds almost like "on" in English except that you try not to pronounce the n and you let the sound come out of both your nose and mouth.  The first letter A sound like a soft A in English, "vant" sounds like v + the soft open A sound coming through both the nose and mouth at once (trying not to pronounce the "nt" because their presence indicates the nasal sound of the A).

Derrière pronounced [dɛʀjɛʀ].  "Derr" sounds similar to "dare" in English but the r is pronounced in the back of mouth and with a more open mouth, "ière" sound like y+air with an open mouthed A and R.

En arrière pronounced [ɑ̃ aʀjɛʀ].  En" sounds almost like "on" in English except that you try not to pronounce the n and you let the sound come out of both your nose and mouth.  "Arr" sounds like the English word "are" but with a more open mouthed R, "i" in French sounds like "ee" in English, "ère" sound like y+air in English but the R is pronounced without closing and rounding the lips as we would in English. 

Devant means in front, meaning a movement where your supporting leg is planted and your working leg moves in front of your stationary body.  You could also use devant to refer to where a movement closes but not to a movement that travels forward.  Think assemblé going up and down in one spot but closing in front.  If that same assemblé were used to travel forward, you would use en avant.

En avant is used for movement that is traveling forward.  In other words, your entire body is moving towards the "front."  Sissone for example can be done en avant.

Derrière means in back (the opposite of devant), meaning a movement where your supporting leg is planted and your working leg moves behind your stationary body. Like devant, derrière can be used to describe where an action closes.

En arrière is used for movement that is traveling backward.  Your entire body is moving toward the "back."

I've put "front" and "back" in quotations when writing about en avant and en arrière because these are sometimes referred to as toward the audience and away from the audience, but I can also think of many instances where it more accurately means forward toward your own front wherever that might be or backwards traveling toward your own back.



Flic-Flac - Hypotheses

The flic-flac is often performed as part of intermediate to advanced barre work.  It often functions as a connector step in barre work with a quick tempo, such as frappé or petit battement.  What are the origins of this term?  While most ballet words relate to their terminology through meaning, flic-flac relates movement to sound. 

Flic-flac pronounced [flik flæk] or fleek, flack.

In French, flic-flac is an onomatopoeia often used to represent the sound of the rain splashing onto the ground (think drip-drop, drip-drop), but it can also represent the sound of a whip, which ties in well with the motion of the flic-flac.

Turning en dedans, the dancer brushes the working foot in front of the supporting foot, crossing past 5th and stretching the foot, creating an over-crossed cou-de-pied as the supporting foot rises to demi-point.  The toes of the working foot brush the floor again as the body turns toward the barre and the working foot lifts to cou-de-pied derrière.  The turn can also be executed en dehors by first brushing behind the working leg, turning away from the barre, and finishing with the working foot in cou-de-pied devant.

You can certainly imagine the whipping action of the body as the dancer turns and also the whip of the leg as it brushed down and through fifth.  While flic-flac doesn't directly mean a whipping movement, it is the way the sound of the whip is represented orally and in writing.

In older texts, you may also find flic-flac representing the sound of a dancer's feet (remember that they were wearing healed shoes) during an entrance or while performing a step.  Before flic-flac came to represent a specific step, it meant only the click-clack of the dancers heels on the floor.

En cloche

Most commonly used with a tendu, dégagé, or grand battement, en cloche refers to the movement of the leg swinging from front to back (or back to front) without complimentary involvement in the upper body.  (En balançoire represents a similar movement but includes complimentary movement in the upper body)

The concept of en cloche is used frequently in barre work, but knowing the origins can provide a great teaching tool for you since the movement mimics so closely imagery of the object.

Cloche is the French word for bell.  Imagine a hand bell sitting in place on the floor.  The dancer's head and torso make up the handle of the bell, and an imaginary bell envelops the body of the dancer from the waist down.  The dancer's working leg serves as the bell's clapper, swinging front and back to ring the bell.

En cloche - pronounced [klɔʃ] "en" sounds like the English word on but trying not to pronounce the final n, "cl" sounds like the cl in "clap," "o" sound like the o of the word long in English except that it is pronounced with an open mouth instead of rounded lips, and "che" sounds like the shhhh used to shush someone.

In an interesting side note, à cloche-pied is a French expression meaning "on one foot."  Sauter à cloche-pied would be to jump up and down on the same foot.  The expression has existed since as early as the 14th century and could certainly be related to the origins of en cloche as well.

En manège

Most dancers and teachers understand the concept of performing a step en manège, or in a circle, but do you know where this term comes from and how it's related to its origins?

Take note that many teachers and choreographers mistakenly use en ménage.  It's a simple vowel swap and rolls off the tongue more easily for English speakers, but there is a difference.  Ménage is the French word for "household, " while manège refers to the ring used in equestrian training and competition.  

En manège - pronounced[manɛʒ] "en" sounds almost like the English word on, except that vowel sound comes form both the nose and mouth simultaneously and the "n" is not pronounced,  "ma" is pronounced similarly to the ma in mama in English with the mouth wide open, "nè" is pronounced like the Ne in the name Ned, and "ge" is pronounced similarly to the S in the English word measure.

Ballet was only one of Louis XIV's interests.  He also kept a large stable of horses and horsemen.  Since all young noblemen were expected to learn skills such as music, dance, and horsemanship as part of their education, there was certainly some overlap between the horsemen and the dancers in Louis XIV's court.  We know for a fact that the count credited with inventing the step sissonne was listed as one of the Louis XIV's Cinquante pages de la grande écurie (50 Pages of the Great Stable).  It is logical that this overlap would occur with terminology as well. 

Imagine a dancer doing tour piqués en manège.  The dancer performs a series of piqué turns while traveling in a circular path.  Now transfer this image to the equestrian arena: imagine the rider galloping the horse around the ring or even guiding the horse through specific footwork in a circular path.

Another good image is the carousel (in modern French manège can also mean carousel) with which even the youngest dancers are familiar.  Help your dancers to maintain their circular motion and to keep their circle wide in group work by imagining that they are on a carousel horse. 




Grand Jeté and Saut de chat

Leaping language!  Grand jeté and saut de chat are the two major ballet leaps, and each movement is directly tied to the meaning of the term representing it.  In a nutshell, the grand jeté is performed with a straight take-off leg, and in the saut de chat, the front leg performs a développé.

First things first:  What's a leap? Outside of the dance world, a leap can be any wide or long jump, often traveling over or across something, but within the dance world, there is a consensus that a leap transitions from one foot to the other.

Grand jeté - [gʀɑ̃ ʒ(ə)te] pronounced "gr" as in the first two letters of great, "and" combines to make only the sound of an open-mouthed ahhh with the sound coming out of both the mouth and nose at the same time.  Avoid pronouncing the "nd" because jeté is masculine.  (Note:  For feminine terms, the adjective would be changed to grande and the "d" would be pronounced). "je" sounds like the S in measure, (the "e" can be pronounced or swallowed), "té" sound like tay, trying not to pronounce the final Y

The verb jeter means to throw or toss and grand, meaning large, indicates the expansive size of the movement.  Jeté, as a step that changes from one foot to the other, exists in even the earliest dance dictionaries, but the use of the term grand jeté becomes much more frequent in the first half of the 20th century.  A grand jeté is a large throw from one leg to the other, specifically with the legs straight in the air.  The movement begins with a plié of the supporting leg and a grand battement of the working leg.  As the back leg leaves the floor, it straightens as well.  The legs are straight at all times in the air and only bend when in contact with the floor.

Saut de chat - [so dә ʃa] pronounced "saut" like the English word so, "de" as if you were practicing the sound the letter D makes, and "chat" like the English word shah.

Saut de chat translated literally means the jump or leap (think of a bound) of the cat.  The ballet movement mimics almost exactly the motion of the cat's leap.  (Check out the video below).  The cat moves from a deep bend of the legs, lifts the front paws bending them at the "knee," springs off the back legs, and stretches long in the air.  The ballet movement comes from a deep plié with the front leg leaving the floor in a pathway that extends through a développé to a straight position, and pushing off the back leg, which will straighten as it does in a grand jeté.