Ballet dictionary for adults. Feet positions.

Evgenia Budrina
3 min readNov 12, 2020

Welcome to the first Ballet Dictionary episode. “Ballet Dictionary for adults” is a project where I give thorough explanation of basic ballet movements with tips and tricks specifically for adult ballerinas. I also give links to useful videos from theballet teachers that I trust.

In this session I will talk about feet positions in ballet.

In my explanations I go by the legendary book “Basic principals of classical ballet” by Vaganova. Lifehacks for adults are purely my own (I’ve been doing ballet for 11 years in total) observations and experience. I only give the tips that actually did work for me.

Illustration from “Basic principals of classical ballet” by Vaganova.

Position I

The balls of both feet are completely turned out, the heels touch and the feet form a single straight line. © Vaganova.

Tips for adults

The goal of this position (as well as of all the others) is to maintain stability of your posture, to stand firmly on your both feet. We’re going to need this stability when the times comes for pirouettes and other beautiful things.

Your heels should indeed touch, but your toes should stand freely. You shouldn’t deliberately make them turn out to form a straight line.

Adults who never did ballet (or didn’t do it for many years) do not have a well developed turnout. If you deliberately try to put your feet in a straight line, your weight will be on your big toes, which can easily lead to injuries and will anyway not train your body in a correct way.

Lifehack 1: your toes should look the same direction as your knees.

Lifehack 2: try to let go of the barre. If you’re still standing firmly and not falling, that means you’re doing it correctly.

Position II

In the second position the balls of both feet are also on one line, but there is a distance of one foot between the heels. (Vaganova);

Tips for adults

The goal here is the same — maintain your stability. Your toes do turn out but only as far as your stability allows them to do so.

Pay special attention to the distance between your feet. Many adults tend to put feet very far apart, that’s not the way to do it. It should indeed be only 1 foot apart, just like Vaganova says.

Position III

In the third position one foot is in front of the other, heels touching the middle of the other foot. (Vaganova);

Tips for adults

Check tips for adult in positions I and II and focus on stability:)

Position V

In the fifth position both feet touch so that the toe of one foot reaches the heel of the other. (Vaganova).

Tips for adults

The common mistake here is to follow this rule 100%. But actually position V is the case where you should (and even must) break the rule.

As the most important thing is your stability and the correct distribution of weight, use third position instead the fifth one. This is what my coach has always recommended us (beginners)to do. Let your toes stand freely for now. The ideal fifth position will come naturally as your turnout will develop. Do not force it.

Position IV

The fourth position is similar to the third, the feet being parallel and one short step apart. (Vaganova).

Tips for adults

Pay special attention to the distance between your feet, don’t put them too much apart. Like in the other positions, your toes should stand freely, with the main focus being your stability, not the ideal turnout.

In this short and useful video tutorial my former ballet coach Ilya Kuznetsov (I attended his classes for 1,5 years when I lived in Moscow) talks about all the positions from the adult perspective. He also shows interesting exercises which he gives to his students so that they learn the positions thoroughly. The video has English subtitles.

Author — Evgenia Budrina. I am a dance enthusiast from Russia.

I started doing ballet at 32. In my blog I write about and for those who started dancing as adults and take it seriously. Personal stories, failures, life-hacks and thoughts.

My Instagram@_a.dancer_

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Evgenia Budrina

Dance enthusiast from Russia. This blog is about dancing as an adult: starting out, keeping up, motivating yourself. Personal stories, failures, lifehacks.