You’ve seen ballet dancers standing in various positions with their feet turned outwards mimicking a straight line. Or pictures of their feet beautifully crossed over each other.
All these positions are part of the 5 basic feet positions in classical ballet. They are an essential part of classical ballet technique where movements begin and end in these positions.
We’re going to go through with you these 5 basic classical ballet feet positions today just like you’re in a ballet class. While you’re reading, why not have a go at it!
Make sure you have some space, hold on to a piece of furniture for support if needed, and let’s start class!
The first position is literally the first position you will learn when you start ballet. It is considered one of the easiest positions and is commonly used to build up and practice on more advanced steps. Even for professional dancers, the first position is still being practiced every day!
When standing in first position, your pelvis straight up and down for correct alignment. Keep your heels touching. If it isn’t possible, be sure that there aren’t inches more than an inch. Your feet and legs should be turned out (heels facing forward, toes facing sideways) as far as they can go. Lastly, check that your sole and toes are equally balanced and pressing into the floor while your knees point towards the same direction of your toes.
The second position is similar to first position but only placed slightly wider.
Slide your feet away and place them hip distance apart. Just like in first position, maintain your turn out on both sides with your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes.
The distance of the feet distinguishes a first position and a second position. Too wide and it will not be an effective preparation for you, too narrow and it will look like a distorted first position.
Third position is usually used during beginners level. It’s a learning position for the more advanced position – fifth position.
Begin with first position, then slide one foot across the other. The heel of your front foot should be in the middle of the other where it touches arch of your back foot. Make sure your feet are not rolling forward while the knees are straight and pulled upwards. Like all positions, it’s important to have your feet and legs turned out equally.
Fourth position is similar to the second position with your feet placed in front of the other instead of sideways. It’s an important position to master because it is used as a preparation position for different turns.
To stand in fourth position, place one foot in front of the other. It should be a foot’s distance apart. The heels of your front foot should be in line with the toes of your back foot. Your legs and feet should be equally turned out towards sideways as much as it can go.
Just like second position, make sure it isn’t too wide or too narrow.
Fifth position is the hardest position to master among the five basic positions. It’s mostly trained and used by advanced dancers.
When standing in fifth position, place one foot in front of the other and cross it slightly further than when standing in third position. The idea is to get your front toe in front of your back heel.
To achieve the ideal fifth position, you need to place your front foot so far across your back foot, that you can’t see the one at the back. The front toe should touch your back heel and vice versa.
While doing so, it is important to keep in mind of not forcing your turn out. It takes years of training to achieve the ideal fifth position. First, to practice keeping the legs straight while maintaining proper alignment; next, to use this position to do turns and jumps.
Tips To Remember When Achieving the 5 basic classical ballet feet positions:
1. Remember to keep both of your feet evenly flat on the floor. Imagine yourself to be a big tree where your feet are strongly rooted in the floor. Your feet and ankles shouldn’t roll forward when standing in a basic ballet position.
2. Think of your legs squeezing together and rotating outwards when you’re in position. Unless you’re in a plie, try pushing your foot into the floor while pulling up with your upper body.
3. Legs should always be straight in every position. If you can’t get them straight, keep your turn out smaller and work with straight legs first. The more you practice, the more flexible your hips and feet will be where you can increase your turn out and work from there.
4. Always keep your knees pointing over the same direction of your toes. Not everyone has 180 degrees turn out with their feet making a perfectly straight line because everyone has different hips and legs flexibility. By trying to achieve this without proper guidance, you are compensating your body, especially your knees.
The best way to achieve this is to keep your pelvis and hips straight up and down. This will help in preventing knee injuries from overworking and twisting the incorrect way. Also, having the correct position of your knees will help you to have a better position in transitioning to different movements such as releves and jumps.
Although these 5 basic ballet feet positions might look easy, even seasoned dancers are still practicing them every day. With hard work and determination, you’ll soon be able to achieve them all! Ballet is a never-ending journey. Be patient with your body, work hard, and listen to your body.
Stay tuned on the next series of basic ballet positions!
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