Ballet Dictionary

Ballet is a performance dance that actually originated in the Italian Renaissance courts in the fifteenth century. The dance was later introduced in France, England and Russia and developed into a form of concert dance. The dance form became widely explored in France where it was further developed in the seventeenth century during the time of King Louis XIV. Ballet is a highly technical dance form with its own ballet dictionary, which consists largely of French words. Despite the decline of ballet in France in the eighteenth century, the dance form continued to flourish in Denmark, Russia and Italy. Russian ballet has many choreographic and innovative movements that differentiate the Russian ballet dancers from dancers from other countries but somehow the terms have remained basically in French.

Some words found in a ballet dictionary have also found their way into the English dictionary and with the same or different meanings. Take a look at some of these words below:

The word Arabesque in ballet means a pose on one leg with the other leg extended at the back. In everyday English it means ornamentation or flourished, curved lines usually found in Arabic motifs.

Cloche in ballet means a rocking or swinging motion like that of a bell. It can mean a transparent cover placed low over young plants as protection against the cold or a close-fitting woman’s hat in English.

Contretemps in the English language means a skirmish while in ballet it means contrary steps.

Fondue in everyday language mostly means melted chocolate where pieces of bread or fruits can be dipped. In ballet fondue also means to melt by standing on one foot then bending forward and extending both legs at the same time.

Frappé means to strike powerfully using the leg. In every day English it means a thick milkshake with ice cream or a frozen dessert with fruit flavors.

Pirouette means to twirl or turn or spin for both ballet and regular English, just like passé, which means to pass. Petite means small, while sans means without and promenade means a walk or an excursion.

The ballet dictionary lists piqué as a movement of the dancer to quickly step out on one leg to the half-toe position while piqué for most people means sudden anger, resentment or indignation. Sauté in ballet means to jump off the ground using one or two legs while sauté is a cooking term in English, meaning to fry quickly using little fat over high heat.


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