Glossary

Ad Lib

Improvisation

Adage

A slow section of a pas de deux consiting of slow, controlled movements that highlight balance, extension and poise.

Adagio

A dance to slow music. Also, in ballet, part of a classical pas de deux.

Allegro

A dance with a fast or moderately fast tempo. A part of a ballet comprised of fast turning or jumping, particularly beaten steps. It is often follows the adagio.

Arabesque

A dance position in which a dancer stands on one leg, whether straight or bent, with the other leg extended to the back at 90 degrees.

Axel

A tuck jump that turns outward, leaping from and landing on the same foot.

Backflip

A dancer flips over backwards. This move is ometimes followed by a frontflip.

Backspin

A dancer balances his or her weight on the upper back and spins by thrusting with the hands or swinging the legs across the body.

Ballerina

A female ballet dancer. A lead dancer, or first dancer, is known as a Prima Ballerina.

Ballet

A form of dance - longer

Ballroom Dances

Social dances usually performed by couples. Such dances include the waltz, fox-trot, tango, rumba, foxtrot, cha cha, mambo, and samba.

Break Boy

A male breakdancer

Break Girl

A female breakdancer

Cabriole

In ballet, a leap in which a dancer's lower leg beats at an angle against the upper one before the dancer lands on the lower leg.

Calypso

The Can Can may have been an off-shoot of either the Polka or Quadrille, or even of both. It originated as a social dance but evolved into a raucous dance performed principally in French music halls. The women dancers wore black silk stockings and kicked their legs high into the air.

Cambre

In ballet, a bend from the waist to either the side or back.

Ceili

This is a gathering of people for music and dance.

Cha Cha

This is basically a triple mambo that emerged from the less inhibited night clubs. The dance then evolved into a genre of its own.

Counterpoint

A word used to describe the action of a dancer performing different phrases simultaneously.

Danceur

A male ballet dancer.

Dancewear

The items of clothing worn by a dancer for class or rehearsal.

Danseuse

A female ballet dancer.

Demi-Arabesque

Half arabesque

Direction

The facing of a particular movement.

Drop

A theatrical type of movement in which a dancer's body weight is completely or partially supported by a leader, while at least one part of the dancer's body remains in contact with the floor.

Efface

A dance position where one leg is extended at an oblique angle while the dancer's body is also held at an oblique angle.

Elevation

The propulsion of a dancer's body into the air and away from thedance floor - eg a leap, jump or hop.

En l'air

Steps performed above the floor. It is the opposite of par terre.

Epaulement

The position of a dancer's torso from the waist up.

Episodic

A choreography with several sections that are linked by a single theme.

Etoile

Literally, a star dancer. The word comes from the Paris Opera where it means a dancer of the highest rank.

Expressive skills

The various aspects that contribute to performance artistry, and that engage the audience - such as musicality and focus.

Feis

An Irish festival or competition that a mixture of dancing instrumental, vocal elements and Gaelic language competitions. The plural term is feisianna. A n event with just dancing is knownas  a feile.

Ferme

A closed position of the feet.

Focus

The use of a dancer's eyes to enhance performance or interpretative qualities.

Fondu

A lowering of a dancer's body brought about by bending a knee.

Form

The overall shape and structure of a dance performance.

Formation

A shape or pattern created in a performance space by dancers.

Freeze

Stopping a dance movement and holding a fixed position. It may involve balancing on the head, or a shoulder, or on the hands.

Giro

A turn

Glissade

A gliding step which normally connects two other steps.

Heel Pivot

A turn, with no weight change, on the heel of a dancer's supporting foot.

House

This term, used strictly, refers to the theatre itself. However, it is commonly used in a looser sense to refer to the audience or to the number of seats sold.

Ideational

Relating to the ideas or concepts of dance.

Interpretation

Movement that is created by a dancer spontaneously It may ibe highly structured or free-form, but it always has an element of chance and presonal expression. Improvisation is generally demanding because it requires a dancer to think quickly while concentrating and focusing to produce instant and simultaneous choreography and performance.

Jete

A leap from one leg to the other in which one leg is thrown to the front, side or back.

Kick

The raising of a dancer's knee straight up, followed by a straightening of the leg with toe extended. There should be no weight change.

Line

The full-length length and stretch of the body from head to toe.

Modern Dance

A form of dance as developed as an expresses complex emotions and abstract ideas.

Another form of dance

Motif

A movement phrase encapsulating an idea that is then repeated and developed throughout a dance.

Movement Theme

The expression of a complete idea in movement developed within a dance.

Musicality

Attention and sensitivity to musical elements of dance while performing or creating.

Natural

A turn made right face, in a clockwise direction.

Outside Foot

A dancer's foot furthest from their partner when facing away, or when not directly facing their partner.

Par Terre

Dance steps performed on the floor. It is the opposite of en l'air.

Penche

In ballet, a dancer leaning forward.

Petite

Small

Pique

A step made directly onto the point of one foot.

Pirouette

To turn

Pointe

The tip of a dancer's toe. Women, and occasionally men, dance sur les pointes (on points) in specially-made blocked shoes. Dancer's also perform "full point", "three-quarter point" or "half point". These terms describe the actions of a dancer standing with toes spread flat on the floor and the rest of the foot raised from the metatarsal joint.

Quick

A step taken on a single beat, or fraction of a beat, followed by a further step without a pause. The term is also used to describe a figure performed more rapidly, and perhaps with one step more than is standard.

Reverse

A dancer's turn left face, or in a counter-clockwise direction.

Spin

Rotation on the ball of a dancer's supporting foot. The non-supporting leg is normally held under the body. The extent of a turn may vary considerably. Pivots and spins carry more momentum, potentially increasing the extent of rotation achieved, when the dancer's upper body is extended,

Spot

A figure danced with one point on the floor, and with no progression.

Tempo

The speed at which music is played - the number of measures, beats, or bars per minute.

Understudy

A member of a company who has a minor role, or someone who is able to cover for one or more larger roles when required.

Underturn

Less than the normal extent of a dancer's turn.

Variation

A change made to a standard figure or dance sequence.

Wiggle

Rapid movement of the hips from side to side, or in a figure-of-eight movement.

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United Kingdom

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Jessica Ann School of Dancing is a fresh, friendly Dance School in Ipswich, and provides excellent and specialized dance training for all ages and styles of performing arts.

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