For this article I will be introducing the basic positions of ballet. I will be giving a crash course on ballet and teaching exercises that can be done at home. Ballet is highly beneficial to all people because it uses our turnout muscles, calf muscles, and abs. Furthermore, ballet helps with flexibility and posture. In fact, many professional baseball, basketball, and football players take ballet to improve their flexibility and strength. So, let’s get started.
First and foremost, I recommend that before you attempt these exercises that you first warm up. I recommend jogging in place or around any area for about five minutes. A couple of jumping jacks should work just as well. Likewise, since we will be engaging our core muscles I recommend you do some crunches and any ab-muscle workouts you know or like. When doing your warm up, remember not to push yourself so hard at first and to just do it gently and easily. The whole point of a warm up is to warm up your muscles to prevent injury. Lastly, do some stretches such as lunges to open your legs up since we will be using the turnout muscles in our legs. According to Wikipedia, turnout is: “Rotation of the leg at the hips which causes the feet (and knees) to turn outward, away from the front of the body.” In order to turnout properly, the legs must rotate outwards away from the front of the body at the hips and not by the knees because this can cause serious injury.
First Position: Every professional started learning ballet with this simple step. I recommend using a rod-like piece of furniture called the barre to hold onto while doing these positions. To get into this position, you have to understand that throughout every exercise in ballet you must engage your core muscles and bottom muscles. Engaging these parts of your body will aid in balance. After this, use the inner turnout muscles of your legs to make a v-shape with your feet.
This will feel awkward and maybe a little uncomfortable at first, but after lots of practice and stretching, your feet should open up wider. Make sure your bottom is not sticking out—you want your body to be in a straight line.
Furthermore, make sure you’re not tucking your bottom in so much that your stomach is not sticking out. To test whether you’re in the right position, let go of the barre and you should be able to stand like this for a long period of time. Make sure you’re not rolling your feet in so that your big toe is rolling over and pressing on the floor. Make sure all five toes are evenly on the floor. Lastly, make sure your shoulders are down and pulled back so that your back is as flat as a board.
Second Position: All of the previous tips can be applied to this position, except that your heels should not be touching but separated a little and more then hip width apart. If you want, throughout all these positions you can have your arm out, but if that is too much, you can just place your arm at your side until you get comfortable with the many positions.
Third Position: To be honest, for some reason, ballet dancers and choreographers don’t really use this position that much. It is really only taught to young students so that they can build up to the fifth position, which will be shown later. The previous tips can once again be applied to this position, but the turnout muscles in our legs must be especially engaged. Be aware that you will not get this position at first and please be careful because ballet uses a lot of muscles usually not engaged with normal activities. One foot should be rotated all the way to the side and the second foot’s heel should be pointed at the middle of the second foot while the second foot is rotated as far as it can go.
Fourth Position: The same tips mentioned before can be applied to this position as well. This position consists of one foot being completely rotated while the other foot is behind the first with a large gap between them with a large gap between the legs.
Fifth Position: In order to do this position, you must place your feet in a position so that one of your heels touches the tips of toes of your second foot as shown in the picture above. Please be careful with this position because it can cause injuries if done too strenuously.
Pliés: You can practice these different positions while practicing this move as well. A plié is basically a bending of the knees while remaining in one of these positions. The most important aspect about this move is not to just move down bluntly but think about stretching yourself up by pulling yourself up.
These are all the basic positions of ballet. Every ballet student all over the world has learned these positions. Every dancer from beginner to advance goes through these positions everyday during class. I hope all of you enjoyed learning a little about ballet.