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I am having trouble remembering the 8 body positions. Well I remember the names but trying to move through them in order is the problem. My brain just will not wrap around them. I searchd for posts related to this but coudn't find any that were what I was looking for. Does anyone have any tips to help remember them. For example someone said that when completed in order you make a circle with your feet like a clock with croise devant starting you off at 11 o'clock where does it go from there to 12 then 1 but doesnt it go back after that? And arms are there any tricks for remembering the arm positions. Any tips or tricks that anyone might have or heard of would be appreciated. My teacher has us to adagios and allegro combinations in the center using the positions and I get completely lost, I have to wait for others to do it so I can copy them. I would really like to get these down.


Thanks in advance :o

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What method are you being taught? There are some slight differences in this depending on the method. When I took ballet before we learned just very basic croise, efface and ecarte. It was an "eclectic" American method. And we did not do all the different head positions and arms that I have been learning for the past year a half in Russian technique. In fact the head was just usually facing front and now and then to the side.


It has taken me all this time just to feel more or less secure with the head positions and epaulement that we use at the barre in my classes. I am still working on getting croise, efface and ecarte with epaulement that we do in center. Unfortunately I have no tricks. I have tried reading Vaganova's book but the drawings are sometimes difficult to decipher! I am anxious to hear what some others may have to say.

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There is a post on this somewhere that I can try to find later today, but when you say 'in order' is where it gets tricky, because different teachers will do things different ways.


I'm guessing you're going croise, enface, efface, and then maybe ecarte??? Perhaps if you can indicate the order your teacher wants, we can help for tricks to remembering that order?


And whilst that is helpful, it's even more useful to be able to identify/go to the position when needed, in any exercise! :o

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I'll have to ask tonight at class. I know with Croise Devant our arms are arm on the working leg side is in second and the other arm is in fifth. In A la Quatrieme Devant arms are in second, Ecarte Devant the arm on the working leg is in fifth and the other arm is in second. I cant remember the others right now I'll write them down at class. I do know she has us doing them all devant first then when you end your last you close to the back and start with the derriere that way you do a complete circle and end prepared to do them all over starting with Croise Devant. Are the positions all the same no matter what style you are training in? My teacher was trained in Cecchetti but I think she uses a mix of styles. Thank you for your responses though!

Edited by lesean1977
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Arm positions-- I would probably just do them infront of a mirror whilst saying the names outloud. But I'm an audio-visual memorizer. Everyone works differently. I'd study for ballet the same way one would study for school.

body positions-- if you don't speak French, finding out what the words mean in English might help you out. Sometimes putting a meaning to a word makes things easier to memorize.

Edited by shy.mouse
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There are some differences although I'm not sure what they all are because now I study Russian technique and I don't know what they do in the others but in the Vaganova book I have she mentions some differences in her descriptions. I just know that we did not have as many positions in the "American" method I was learning before (which is usually a mishmash of the others). Russian tends to use more epaulement than the other methods so there might be more head variations. Also the arm positions have different names--for example what you are calling "5th position" for the arms in Vaganova is 3rd or "high pose."

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It sounds to me like you are learning the 8 Cecchetti positions. (He left out écarté derrière, which is something I have never understood.) Remember them in terms of order is really just learning that you move from 11 to 12 to two positions at 1, then 3 for à la seconde, then 5 for épaulé (and écarté derrière if you were learning that), then 6 and finally 7.


Croisé devant

À la Quatrieme devant

Effacé devant

Écarté devant

À la seconde


À la Quatrieme derrière

Croisé derrière


(Écarté derriè would go after à la seconde if you were doing the 9 positions)


Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet has drawings of all the positions, the arabesques, etc. It is inexpensive and available through Amazon. (Click link above!) Also Gretchen Ward Warren's Classical Ballet Technique, more expensive, but actual photographs of everything and excellent descriptions.

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I just know that we did not have as many positions in the "American" method I was learning before (which is usually a mishmash of the others).


Haha, I had to laugh out loud about this - we don't have as many as in we have 3 positions, not counting preparation, "Big", and "Little". I remember the first time I heard, "Big Pose" I thought it was a miscommunication due to language barrier. :yes:


Here's a really great drawing that exhibits the different positions that might help you out. You'll have to forgive that it links out of a random url.. I found it on google images, but it's a very popular diagram from a book I believe I own somewhere. :)


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That is from Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet.

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As Ms Leigh says, it sounds as though you're doing the Cecchetti "8 positions of the body" centre exercises. From my memories of doing syllabus classes (I was doing the Intermediate & Advanced syllabi) we started the centre practice with one or other of these centre exercises which are also port de bras exercises, and there is a beautiful logic to them, as you add tendus, or grand battements, or have adage practice incorporated into them.


The exercises are logical in asking you through a series of orientations towards the audience, and one of my current teachers (also Cecchetti trained, but teaching an open class) sometimes sets one of the ports de bras. And he calls it "bread and butter" for a dancer! Which of course, is easier if you've been learning the sequences since you were 8!


I find the Ward books are excellent for me as by no means an expert -- they explain things really clearly. The other reference book (a facsimile reprint by Dover) is Cyril Beaumont's study of Classical Ballet Technique. Mr Beaumont was one of Britain's foremost Cecchetti experts.

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I study under the Cecchetti method and for myself I found that the easiest was to learn them was as the set exercise incorporating all eight, once I had that mastered that you could ask me for any of the individual ones and it really wasnt a problem.


In one of the grades, I think it was Intermediate Foundation but I would have to check you had to do the first half of the exercise (the first set of 8) with the use of port de bras on one side and without the use of port de bras on the other. We practiced doing the full exercise (two sets of 8) without port de bras and the full exercise with port de bras for literally weeks on end, and now it really isnt a problem anymore.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Balletlove I would love to know the break down of these excersises! I'm looking for different ways to do the positions so I can concrete them in my mind. Thanks in advance and sorry if I'm beating this topic down but my type A personality wont let me not perfect it lol!

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Lesean, what do mean by the "breakdown"? I thought I did that for you in post #7, above?

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Lesean, what do mean by the "breakdown"? I thought I did that for you in post #7, above?



I was refering to the different excerises that balletlove was talking about. If its the same as what you described then thankyou. I just wanted a little more information regarding the excersises she was refering to.

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I think it is the same, as that is the way that the Cecchetti syllabus does them.


By the way, if you go down to Fast Reply or Add Reply then the previous post will not be quoted in your post, which saves bandwidth. :grinning:

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