Lesson 1

Lesson 1

Intro. Warm-up

At this lesson you will learn the basic arm and leg positions in classical dance. Will learn how to warm up at the barre.

Arm positions

In classical dance, there are 3 basic and preparatory arm positions. There should be no tension in the wrists. The thumb and the middle finger are pulled towards each other but there is space between them. Don’t drop the elbows. Hold the posture and the shoulders.

  • Préparation position;
  • First position. Lift the arms to the level of your diaphragm. Shoulders down. Engage the muscles under the shoulder blades.
  • Second position. Arms to the sides. Wrists should be below the shoulder line. Arms rounded. A feeling as if you placed your hand on the table. Hold the elbow.
  • Third position. To have a better feel for it, let’s bring the arms from the first position. Arms in an oval shape. Make sure there is space between the wrists.

Leg positions

There are 6 positions in total. Knees are pulled in, feet are arched, legs are turned out both in the hips and feet. Work out on the leg positions gradually, every time getting closer to the desired level.

  • First position: heels together, toes facing out. Tuck in your pelvis. Knees pulled up.

  • Second position: feet hip-distance apart. Pulling in the knees and engaging the hips should be done in all positions.

  • Third, fourth and fifth positions are all done either from the right or from the left legs. To stand in a third position, you first need to put your standing leg, which in this case is the left one, in the first position. The heel of the right foot should be in the middle of the standing leg. The third position is more common in folk-character lessons.

  • Fourth position. Put the left leg in first position. The right leg is at distance in the front. The heel of the right leg should be right in front of the ball of the left foot.

  • Fifth position. Bring your feet together from the fourth position. Knees are pulled in, hips engaged, pelvis tucked in.

  • Sixth position. It is not used in classical lessons but could be used in dancing parts.


Let’s move on to the warm-up before our class. For ballet dancers it’s a certain ritual. Usually they come 15 minutes before the class starts to warm up and prep the muscles and joints for the work-out.

You will need a mat and a foam roller.

  • Let’s begin with a seated forward bend. Try to keep your knees straight. Let’s first do the bend with our feet pointing out and then flexed. You will feel your hamstrings stretch and it’s completely normal.

*Then we take the foam roller and work out the back. Place it under your lower back and roll on it.

  • Then let’s do some spinal twists without the roller.

  • Let’s move on to the split. If you do not have the required préparation for it, do not try to do it all at once, but slowly, every day work out your split up to the pain level that you can take, the side and the front one. Then you can try sitting in a split from the foam roller.

  • Then we need to warm up the feet. Come back to seated position and start flexing each foot, then do ankle circles from the sixth position into the first. Take the foot into the hand and stretch out the heel to face the ceiling. After this exercise we finish on the mat and go to the barre.

  • Holding the barre with one hand. Let’s go down in sixth position. Don’t forget the knees. They need to be pulled in. Then walk your feet out into the fourth position and let’s do the same forward bend. Repeat the same from the other side.

  • Now facing the barre, feet in first position. Let’s do side bends. The other arm opposite the side to which you are bending is engaged and goes through the second position into the third. This move is called port de bras.

  • Then we stretch out the Achilles and warm up the hips. Placing the leg on the barre let’s do port de bras from the position: leg forward and leg to the side. Do these exercises slowly to stretch out and warm up the muscles.