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ABC of ballet: positions of the feet

Watch First Artist Romany Pajdak demonstrate feet positions.

By Royal Opera House

16 March 2011 at 4.20pm | 2 Comments

Positions of the feet

Feet positions: In all schools of ballet, there are five basic foot positions: first, second, third, fourth, fifth. All ballet movements begin or end in one of these five positions. Ballet dancers must have good natural turnout of the leg from their hip to enable them to stand in first position with the feet turned out to the sides.

First position: Heels together, toes pointed outwards to the sides.

Second position: The feet remain pointing outwards, but are moved apart in parallel with each other, by approximately the length of the dancer’s foot and a half.

Third position: The feet remain pointing outwards, but one is placed in front of the other, the front foot’s heel touches the back foot’s instep.

Fourth position opposite third / fourth open: The feet remain pointing outwards, and in the same position as third but the front foot is placed slightly forward (about the length of one of the dancer’s feet).

Fourth position opposite fifth / fourth crossed: As above but the feet are crossed further with the front foot placed opposite the toes of the back foot.

Fifth position: The feet point outwards with the legs crossed and the feet touching. The heel of one foot is placed beside the toes of the other.

Watch Romany Pajdak, Royal Ballet First Artist, demonstrate positions of arms and feet together.

ABC of ballet: One of a series of posts explaining useful ballet terms.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Ayeshah Lockwood responded on 24 April 2017 at 5:58pm Reply

    I was wondering, which foot is moved in the first 5 positions?

    • Rachel Beaumont (Product Manager) responded on 25 April 2017 at 10:03am

      Hi Ayeshah,

      Thanks for your query. These positions describe only the static positions of the feet, not the movement between them. The positions that are asymmetric (i.e. 3rd, 4th and 5th) can be performed with either foot in front.

      All best,

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