Ballet is such a special gift. It gives us the tools to communicate our thoughts with anyone. It is a universal language, one that can be understood by all. Of course, that is not the case with the language of ballet terms. The French terminology give us a hint about ballet’s ornate history.
This can be hard. Like, really hard. Learning what all of these words mean in French and which steps they refer to can be a huge challenge. One of the most difficult things, at least for me, was learning how to spell them. So, in order to help with others quest to spelling victory, I have compiled a list of the most easily misspelled ballet words.
allongé (aa-lohn-jay’) When I first spelled this one out I was quite certain there was an “e” at the beginning there. This word, which means, “to draw out” can refer to a port de bra or to a penche (at least I can spell those words right.)
chaîné (shah-nay’) Surprisingly enough I don’t think we ever learned the definition for this word which means “to link together.” But please tell me I wasn’t the only one who thought that we could spell this one with an “s.”
cinq (sank) By the spelling you probably have no idea what this word is, I certainly didn’t, but I’ll give you a hint it means “five.” Yes you read that correctly, there is a “q” at the end there. It’s like they’re purposefully making this as hard as possible for us.
croisé (krawh-zay’) When I initially attempted to spell this one I came up with something like “quaze”…? I wasn’t even close. Croisé, which means, “to cross” is the position where your legs appear to be crossed from the front. At least the definition is easy to remember.
entrelacé (ahn-truh-lah-say’) This word is barely used around the Cal Bal studios but I thought it was worthy of the list. It means, “to criss-cross” and is basically a fancy word for a tour jeté.
saute (soh-tay) And bringing up the rear is my all time favorite. This one, which means “to jump”, is just confusing. Why couldn’t they have gone with a simple “sotay”?
I hope these definitions and spelling tips will help you to better understand the steps and the heritage of our great art.