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False Friends

Much like learning a new language, ballet has some words that sound alike but are in fact different. In some cases they are often used in the same sentence as "Relevé in retiré". Here are a few of the most commonly interchanged words from a teacher's perspective.


A dancer stands on pointe in retiré devant.
Relevé in retiré

Relevé and Retiré

All relevés are not in retiré and not all retirés are on relevé.

A relevé is an action that starts with a plié and the feet displace to come closer to the body's midline, the foot or feet are on demi-pointe and then reverse the action into a plié to finish.

A retiré is a position where the foot is lifted near the knee, and the leg is turned out. The legs go through retiré in a développé.


Glissé and Glissade

A glissé is a rapid battement executed 22.5 degrees off the ground. Often seen as a barre exercise following battement tendu.


Glissade means to glide. It is a traveling linking step beginning and ending in 5th position. Can be performed quickly as an allegro step, or slowly in an adage.


Glissé is like sliding on ice, you land in the same spot you started. The leg does a glissé and returns.

Glissade is like the slide at the park that brings you from point A to point B. There is a leaping action from one leg to the other. We glissé into a glissade!




A drawing of two pointe shoes. One is on pointe and the other is in cou de pied derrière.
Cou de pied derrière

Cou de pied and Coupé

Cou de pied is a position, literally translated to neck of the foot.


Coupé is an action, translated "to cut" is a transfer of weight from one leg to the other going through the center of the body.


A coupé can be done from a cou de pied or an extended leg, to a cou de pied or an extended leg.



Manège and Ménage Ballet's oral history has yielded some interesting linguistic mishaps. A manège translates to a ride, like a roller coaster, and ménage translates to cleaning. In ballet a manège is a tour de force where a dancer moves in a circular pattern around the stage while also turning, and jumping while turning. Perhaps there are some similarities to mopping, but the proper term remains manège!


What are some names of steps that cause you to pause?

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Thanks for all this great information!! Never taught this as a young dancer. Loving the information

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