Positions of the feet in ballet

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The positions of the feet in ballet is a fundamental part of classical ballet technique that defines standard placements of feet on the floor. There are five basic positions in modern-day classical ballet, known as the first through fifth positions. These five positions were invented by the Italian choreographer Cesare Negri in the late 16th century[citation needed]. Two additional positions, known as the sixth and seventh positions, were codified by Serge Lifar in the 1930s while serving as Ballet Master at the Paris Opéra Ballet, though their use is limited to Lifar's choreographies.[1][2] The sixth and seventh positions were not Lifar's inventions, but revivals of positions that already existed in the eighteenth century, when there were ten positions of the feet in classical ballet.[3]

Five basic positions[edit]

All of the five basic positions require the feet to be flat on the floor and turned out (pointing in opposite directions as a result of rotating the legs at the hips).

First position[edit]

First position

Second position[edit]

Second position

The feet point in opposite directions, with heels spaced approximately twelve inches apart.

Third position[edit]

Third position

One foot is placed in front of the other so that the heel of the front foot is near the arch

Fourth position[edit]

Open fourth position, with heels lined up, one directly in front of the other
Closed fourth position, with heel of each foot overlapping the toe of the other foot

There are two types of fourth position: open and closed. In both cases, one foot is placed approximately twelve inches in front of the other. In open fourth position the heels are aligned, while in closed fourth position the heel of the front foot is aligned with the toe of the back foot. There are two variations of each type of fourth position, determined by which foot is in front.

Fifth position[edit]

Fifth position

One foot is placed in front of, and in contact with the other,with the heel of one foot aligned with the toe of the other foot. There are two fifth positions, depending on which foot is in front.

Lifar's additional positions[edit]

Sixth position[edit]

Sixth position

Parallel feet, as in pas couru sur les pointes en avant or en arrière.

Seventh position[edit]

Seventh position

Similar to fourth position, but performed en pointe with heels in center with each other. There are two seventh positions, determined by whether the left or right foot is placed in front.


  1. ^ Lifar on Classical Ballet
  2. ^ Ries, Frank W. D. (1986). The Dance theatre of Jean Cocteau. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International Research Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-8357-1994-4. 
  3. ^ Paolacci, Claire (2004). "Serge Lifar and the Paris Opera during World War II". Journal of the Oxford University History Society: 8. 

See also[edit]