Dance Dictionary - A to D

Updated: Jan 20

Terms every dancer should know- all here in our DANCE DICTIONARY! The world of dance has its own complete language that can sometimes make it challenging to learn new techniques. To help you become fluent, Covet Dance has put together a COMPLETE LIST OF DANCE TERMS to make your dance classes a bit easier to understand so you can focus on mastering the moves! If you think of a term or step we forgot, please leave us a comment so we can add it to help make this a better tool for all dancers.



This week, A TO D :


À la seconde: To the second position or to the side.

Á terre: On the floor/ground.

Abstraction: This word refers to choreography that is interpreted as pure movement and does not follow a specific storyline.

Adage: Graceful controlled movement showing exquisite lines which require great balance and strength. Also used is the Italian musical term "adagio" meaning slow tempo.

Allégro: Quick or large jumps to a lively, fast or brisk tempo, usually done towards the end of class.

Alignment: Perfect placement of all the parts of the body.

Allongé: Elongated. Used to describe poses that are stretched.

Arabesque: A position where the dancer balances on one leg (either flat footed or en pointe) and lifts one leg straight behind at a right angle. The shoulders must remain square in the line of direction.

Arch: Position in which the whole or upper body is extended, creating the form of an arch.

Arriére: Backwards. A move that indicates backwards movement or motion away from the audience.

Assemblé: Joined together. A move in which a dancer slides the working foot along the ground and then brings the legs together to fifth position while jumping in the air.

Attitude: A pose in which the dancer stands straight on one leg with the opposite leg bent at 90 degrees and lifted in front or back. One arm (the one on the side with the raised leg) is curved over the head while the other is held to the side.

Axel Turn: Jump starting with a chene turn then one leg goes up into passé, followed by the other.

Back Essence: A spank step (cross behind) and two steps

Balancé: Rocking step. Done on either front or back foot shifting the weight from one foot to the other.

Ball Change: Tap step consisting of two quick changes of weight from one ball of the foot to the other.

Balloné: To bounce. Used to indicate the lightness and elasticity of a jump.

Ballotté: Tossed. A series of rocking and swinging movements in coupé dessous and coupé dessus. May be performed with straight knees at 45 degrees or with développés at 90 degrees.

Battement: Beating. Beating action with the bent or extended leg.

Battement dégagé: Disengaged battlement. A rapid back and forth movement of the non-supporting leg with the toes hovering the ground. Similar to the battement tendu but is done at twice the speed.

Battu: Beaten. A step in which one foot is beaten against the other leg or foot.

Barrel Jump: Both legs are bent back from the knee while leaping into the air

Beat: Basic unit of time measure in both dance and music

Bombershay: Step Spank Dig (tap step)

Bras Bas: Arms low or down. Arms are hanging loosely while forming a circle without letting the elbows touch the body. Hands are touching and resting on the body with palms facing upward.

Brisé: Broken. A small step where the movement is broken and dancer's legs are moving in succession.

Brisé Volé: Flying brisé. Dancer finishes on one foot after the beat, the other leg crossed either front or back.

Bridge: Body is arched upside down, supported by the hands and feet with head dropped downward.

Broadway: Flap heel spank heel toe heel (tap step)

Brush: Tap step in which you swing your foot forward (front of diagonally side) only hitting the ball tap

Buck/ Chug: Forward movement in tap emphasizing the heel drop with weight on the working foot

Buffalo: Tap step consisting of a step, shuffle, and a hop

Cabriole: Caper. A jump in which the dancer claps their legs together while leaping with straight legs.

Canon: Defines when each fragment of a choreography piece will benign in relation to the entire dance.

Chaînés: Chains or links. A rapid succession of turns in which the dancer turns on both feet

Changement: Changing feet, one in front the other, in the air position. Done in fifth position either petit or grand.

Chaseé: To chase. A ripple step where the other foot follows the other step-by-step.

Chest Lift: Chest is extended out and upward

Chug: Lift heels slide forward and then drop the heels at the end of the slide forward (tap step)

Cincinnati: A backwards traveling tap step where the dancer slaps with one foot and drops the heels of the opposite foot, shuffle, and a step.

Coupé: To cut.

Couru: Running.

Contraction: A forward curving of the spine starting from the hips

Coffee Grinder: Rest your weight on one leg and swing the other leg around your body in a “helicopter” motion.

Cramp Roll: Tap step using toe and heel drops in specific pattern

Croisé: Crossed. The dancer's legs are placed at an oblique angle to the audience.

De coté: Sideways. Indicates that a step is to be made to the side.

Dégagé: Disengage. Pointing the foot in any direction with a fully arched instep while the dancer's weight remains on the straight supporting leg.

Demi-plié: Half-bend of the knees.

Derriére: Back or behind. Indicates a backwards movement or placement.

Dessous: Under. Working foot passes behind the supporting foot.

Dessus: Over. Working foot passes in front of the supporting foot.

Devant: In front. Indicates a move or position where the leg or arm is placed in front of the body

Dig: Digging of heel into the floor without weight transfer (tap step)

Draw: Pull the free foot from an open to a closed position with a sliding motion.

Drop: A controlled fall

Dynamic (s): Expresses the four main components of dance (space, time, weight, flow) and how they interact.


Source : Covetdance

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