Ballet Position for the Foot
Ballet positions are very important to understand as they are what your ballet students are going to use when they are learning the many dance positions. In ballet, the positions of each foot on the ballet floor is an essential component of basic ballet technique which defines standard floor positions for each leg. There are only five basic positions in contemporary ballet, designated as the upper fifth through seventh positions. The positions are commonly referred to as first, second, third, fourth and fifth on the floor. This is followed by the remaining positions known as off points.
The positions on the floor are not the only thing that ballet learners need to be aware of. Ballet students need to also be aware of which leg they are in front of when they are in a standing position, or whether they are in the center of the dancing floor with their legs straight (called a standing position) or at a side table with their legs bent (called a scotch fold). In a standing position, the dancer’s toes are along the floor directly under the body in front of them. Their hands may be spread widely or close to their sides.
All Ballet students must learn the basic positions through repetition. Repeated ballet movements should form a well-defined routine throughout the ballet student’s ballet training. These positions will then be used in ballet movements that further develop these positions. Some of these positions throughout ballet are used for different purposes such as a solo dance, a partner dance or as a class movement.
The first two positions, the first leg in front and the second leg in back, are called on point positions. The on point position is when the dancer’s leg is extended straight up in the air. This creates a perfect foundation for most dances. The back leg is then in a position halfway between the head and the knee. The ballet dancer’s foot should be placed flat on the ground half a foot in front of the other foot.
The second leg in back is the off point position where the foot is not extended. This position creates an opportunity for dancers to develop their footwork and technique. The student should remember, though, that the foot in this position does not necessarily mean that the ballet dancer is not in a straight line but this can be used to help determine which foot is to be placed first in a move later in a ballet performance.
The third leg in back is the up point position where the leg is fully extended. This is a good position to begin with ballet movements as it allows for the dancer to ease into them and get comfortable with the movement. In all positions, the foot should be placed flat on the ground. Ballet teachers also note that the footwork in these positions will require extra strength in the ankle and knees. They also suggest that ballet learners work on strong muscles in the calves and feet to make the movements more fluid.