The Basic Directions in Classical Ballet


When you just start taking ballet class, many exercises will be done at the ballet barre. In advanced ballet classes, however, more and more exercises are done in the center. Different classical ballet directions, postures and lines are used which are indicated by French ballet terms. This can be quite confusing at times. That is why we are happy to help you on your way. Put on your ballet clothes quickly, because in this article you will learn the difference between the ballet directions en face, croisé, effacée, écarté.

En face

En face means straight forward. So when en face is spoken of in a ballet class, you stand straight ahead. The whole body is turned in the direction of the audience or the mirror.


With croisé we talk about a crossed position of the legs. You are standing towards one of the front corners with, for example, your feet in the 5th position. The foot closest to your audience is in front.

In a croisé devant position, for example, you have your working leg (the leg closest to your audience) in a dégage devant. The arms are in the 4th position with another arm raised as a leg. This position can be either a terre (on the ground) or en l'air (in the air).


When we talk about effacée, we are talking about an open line. This line can also be a terre or en l'air. So it is actually the opposite of the croisé position.

In the effacée devant position you are therefore facing one of the front corners. The leg furthest from your audience is in a dégage devant position. You have your arms in the fourth position with the inverted arm of your leg up.

Écarté derrière

Écarté means spread and derrière means behind. To perform a écarté position, the dancer has his working leg in the 2nd position. This can be either a terre (on the ground) or en l'air (in the air).

Derrière says something about the direction in which the diagonal direction was taken. In this situation the working leg is therefore in a diagonal line backwards. The head and arm direction is away from the leg.

Écarté devant

The idea of ​​the écarté devant direction is the same as that of the derrière. However, the working leg is now in 2nd position in a diagonal line forward. This can be both a terre (on the ground) and en la ar.

Your arm on the same side of the working leg is in 5th position. Your other arm is in 2nd position. The head is turned towards your upper arm.

Need more guidance?

Obviously there are many other directions and positions in classical ballet. These are often variations on the basic directions. With these five basic directions of the body you will come a long way in ballet class!
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