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Which leg goes where, when?

Updated: Apr 19

Dancers have created systems to make it easier to discuss space and our position in a studio or on a stage. Some terms you have heard in class might be downstage and upstage, referring to the sloped stages of the past.

Croisé and ouvert are the terms we use to discuss which leg will be in front when facing a corner or standing on a diagonal. In classical pose, closed positions such as 3rd or 5th, or extended positions like tendu devant and derrière and higher extensions like arabesque.


  • Croisé is French for crossed

  • The downstage leg (closest to the front) is in front

  • The legs appeared crossed from the audience perspective

  • If you are facing the downstage corner Right, you will have the left in front.

  • The Elementary Ballet Dancers in the classical pose photo above are standing in croisé alignment.


  • Ouvert is French for open

  • The upstage leg (closest to the back) is in front

  • The legs appeared open from the audience perspective

  • If you are facing downstage corner right, you will have your right foot in front

  • The Intermediate/Advanced Dancers in the arabesque are in ouvert alignment.

Croisé and ouvert can help set up spatial cues to help you feel more prepared before starting an exercise from the corner.

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