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It's so exciting to begin ballet work and be part of a real dance class! From the day of your very first class, your teacher will demonstrate the five basic ballet positions. From them you will learn to add the moves, jumps, turns, and leaps that are choreographed into dance routines. Even if ballet isn't your first love, it's still important to learn it. No matter whether you want to study jazz, tap, lyrical, or even hip hop, all basic dance moves come from ballet. Premiere En Bas Before and after you perform any ballet routine, you assume this position. The words mean "preparatory position." You will stand tall with your head high. Your chin should be level, but pretend there is a string pulling your body straight up to the ceiling. Allow your shoulders to relax, and curve each arm slightly. The fingers and thumbs of each hand should point toward, but not touch, one another. There are numbered positions for both your arms and your legs. But you won't always perform them together! For example, sometimes you will have your arms in First Position and your feet in Fourth Position. If you are just running through the Five Ballet Positions, however, do the First Position of the arms with the First Position of the legs, and so forth. First Position, Legs When you stand in first position, touch your heels together, and strive to point your toes outward in opposite directions, one foot from the other. The balls of your feet touch the floor. You are trying to form a straight line with your feet. First Position, Arms From your preparatory position, raise both arms slightly but still curved, as if you were holding a beach ball. Your fingers should curve slightly in at chest level. Second Position, Legs In second position, stand with your feet apart-about the length of one of your feet. But you still have the heels facing one another, with the toes pointing out. Second Position, Arms Next, raise your arms so that you are holding them straight out to your sides. But remember you are a graceful ballerina! Even though your shoulders are up, let your elbows drop slightly below the level of your shoulders. Your fingers curve gently downward. Third Position, Legs You reach Third Position by placing one foot in front of the other. The heel of the front foot rests against the arch of the back foot. Your toes continue to point away from one another. Practice this with first your right foot in front, and then your left foot, so that you can stand either way with equal ease. Third Position, Arms In this position, one of your arms remains as at Second Position. The other arm is raised gracefully upward so that your fingers are over the top of your head, as if you are trying to feel the top of a hat. If your legs are in Third Position with your right foot in front, then your left arm should be the one over your head. The right arm will curve slightly downward. Fourth Position, Legs Your feet are the same as in Third Position, but there is about a foot's-length of space between your front and rear feet. Fourth Position, Arms In this position, keep on feeling for that top hat perched up on your head with one arm. Move the other arm forward, curved slightly inward at the level of your chest. If your right foot is placed in front of your left foot, then your right arm is the one in front of your chest. Fifth Position, Legs In what some dancers have named as the most difficult ballet position, stand with your feet aligned against one another. The toes of each foot touch the heel of the other. Fifth Position, Arms Raise both arms, curved, over your head. They should be about six inches apart. Your palms should face inward, and you should be able to see your fingertips without raising your head. And Remember... As you transition through your ballet positions, use your hip and thigh muscles to move your legs. If you try to turn your feet outward from the knees, you're going to hurt your knees eventually, and you'll never learn good form. As you move your feet from one position to the next, keep your toes on the floor. And your arms should always be graceful!
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