8 March 2011 at 5.23pm | Comment on this article
En face, croisé, ecarté, effacé
Alignments: Early ballet was presented at court before an audience of royalty and nobles. This determined some of ballet’s most important rules - such as the dancers’ exact positioning and use of directions - because the performers had to abide by the rule of court etiquette and could not show their backs to the noble audience. A system of diagonals was thus employed, which was to inform, from that moment on, the use of space in classical ballet, as revealed by the four fundamental positions still taught today, the en face (or facing front), the croisé, the ecarté and the effacé (which all draw upon the notion of diagonal placing in space).
- Croisé (lit. crossed): in line with one of the stage’s diagonals, the dancer has his/her front leg nearest to the audience and the back one furthest away
- Écarté (lit. separated): in line with one of the stage’s diagonals, the dancer has his/her whole body facing that direction.
- Éffacé (lit. shaded): in line with one of the stage’s diagonals, the dancer has his/her front leg furthest from the viewers and his back one nearest to them.
- En Face (lit. facing): the dancer’s body squarely faces the public.
ABC of ballet: A new series of posts, explaining useful ballet terms. This post looks at alignments - the way in which a dancer stands in relation to the audience.