Simple Ballet Positions Your Child Can Practice at Home

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Your child loves to dance and has a passion for ballet. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has shuttered studios everywhere. Lessons are canceled and there's nowhere to practice. But that doesn't mean they can't dance.

Aspiring ballerinas don't need a special space to get moving. If your child has a ballet fix, we've got you covered. Read on for some basic moves and ballet positions that can be practiced at home.

 

What You'll Need to Get Started

You don't need fancy equipment to learn ballet basics. However, the right gear will bring the studio feel into your home. Here's what you'll need to outfit your little ballerina.

Slippers

Ballet shoes are a staple for every dancer, young and old. Beginners don't need pointe shoes. Instead, young dancers should start with slippers. Look for ones with a rounded toe and full sole. 

Order a half size larger than street shoes. If you want to be sure of the right size, it's easy to measure. Our handy guide has you covered with all the important info.

Leotard

Sweat pants and a t-shirt are comfortable for exercise. But a form-fitting leotard allows dancers to see the lines their arms and legs make. Leotards come in both long and short sleeves. Some have a skirt attached.

Tutus are generally reserved for the stage. But there are no rules for home. Why not have some fun and opt for a tutu or even a ballet dress?

Tights

Finish off the outfit with a pair of footed tights. Don't forget to pull long hair back into a classic ballerina bun.

Ballet Positions: Fancy Feet

Now that your little dancer is geared up, it's time to get dancing. We'll start with the five basic positions of ballet. The corresponding hand positions vary from school to school. So for now, just concentrate on the feet. Dancers should practice holding each position and moving from one to another.

First Position

  • Stand with heels together, toes pointed outward.
  • Feet should look like a wide "V".
  • Hold arms in front, almost touching the thighs.
  • Curve wrists inward.
Second Position
  • Begin with feet and arms in first position.
  • Spread feet slightly, about shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise arms to the side, almost forming a "T".
Third Position
  • From second position, slide the right foot until it touches the inside of the left foot.
  • Move arms into first position.
  • The left arm stays in first position.
  • Lift the right arm slightly until fingertips are even with the hips.
Fourth Position
  • From third position, step the right foot forward.
  • Lift the right arm up into second position.
  • Fifth Position
  • Turn out the right foot.
  • Place the left foot behind the right, turning the opposite way.
  • Toes and heels should touch.
  • Lift arms above the head in a circular shape.
  • Keep a space between the hands.

Ballet Positions: It's All in the Arms

Now that your child has the hang of footwork, it's time to practice arm positions. In ballet, they're called the port de bras.

En Avant: Arms Forward
  • Hold arms in front of the torso.
  • Round them slightly, as if hugging an imaginary tree.
En Haut: High Up
  • Hold arms above the head.
  • Shoulders remain flat.
En Bas: Below
  • Bring arms down to the sides.
  • Palms point forward, toward the legs.
The Gateway

The Gateway is the resting ballet stance between positions. It seems easy at first, but it's important to practice holding this stance in perfect formation.

  • Hold the arms in en avant position.
  • Lower arms, but not the shoulders. Elbows should sit slightly below shoulders.
  • Curve each hand, slightly cupped. Face palms inward.
  • Line up fingertips with the bottom of the breastbone.
  • Keep hands slightly apart.

Simple Steps

Your child has learned the basic foot positions and the port de bras. You can introduce these beginner steps.

Plié: to Bend

"plee-ay"

  • Keep both feet flat on the floor.
  • Bend the knees.
  • Knees should bend right out over the toes.
Relevé: to Rise

"ruh-ley-vay"

  • Start with feet together.
  • Keep knees straight while lifting heels up high.
  • All of the body weight will be on the balls of the feet.
  • Make sure body weight is NOT on the tips of the toes.
  • Repeat on one foot.
Sauté: to Jump

"soh-tay"

A two feet jump that combines plié and relevé: both feet jump and land at the same time.

  • Begin in plié
  • Propel into the air, using the feet. Just like relevé.
  • Keep legs straight and extend them in the air
  • Finish in plié to cushion the knees.

Learning Ballet at Home Can Be Fun

Learning new ballet positions alone can be exciting and interactive. Why not video call some friends and have a remote dance party? 

It won't be long before the studios are open again for classes. Until then, look around our blog for more tips and tricks.

Put it All Together

You don't need dance experience to teach these beginner ballet stances. They're simple enough for even young children to learn.

Toddlers will benefit from short sessions. Work on one or two movements at a time, and take lots of breaks. Older ballerinas can focus on practicing techniques.

Children of all ages need lots of repetition to master a skill. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't have a good time. Dance lessons can, and should, be fun!

Here are some suggestions for making your lessons enjoyable.

Play a Game

Children learn best through play, and dance is no exception. Try teaching the basic positions through a game of Simon Says or Follow the Leader.

Use Descriptive Imagery

Kid-appropriate language can help young dancers understand ballet stances and moves. 

When practicing first position, have your dancer think of their feet like a closed book. Turning the toes outward while keeping heels together is like opening the book.

Learning plié? Imagine the knees as an umbrella for the toes. Knees should bend out far enough to keep the toes wet from the rain – just like an open umbrella.

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