Ballet Terms: C






Cabriole – A jumping step, in which the extended legs are beaten in the air.

Originally from Italian, this French word means “caper” or to leap joyously.  Cabrioles can be done front, side, or back and can also been done with a double beat – this is called a double cabriole.

Cambré – A bending from the waist backward, in an arched movement

From the French word for “arched,” cambré is a bend of the body backward, from the waist.

Cecchetti Method

A ballet technique and training system, devised by the Italian dancer and teacher Enrico Cecchetti.

Cecchetti Method

Chaînés – A series of turns, moving through space, linked together

From French, meaning “chains,” this step is usually performed with short, fast turns across the stage.

Changement Battu – See “Royale

Chassé – A chasing step

From the French meaning chased, this is a step in which one foot glides out, while the other leg “chases” it and replaces the other foot’s position before finishing. Or, a chassé can be executed to the open position on a plié, according to the Cecchetti method.


The person who creates and combines movement to form a dance.

Cloche, en – A swinging movement of the leg where the upper body is held still

From the French word for bell, cloche refers to the leg swinging back and forth like a pendulum through first position while the upper body stays stationary. Similar to Balançoir, see above.

Coda – Refers to the finale of a major dance section in ballet

From Italian meaning “tail,” in ballet it is used to denote the ending of major dance sequences. Most commonly used to name the final section of a major pas deux, which is called a “Grand Pas de Deux” in ballet.

Contretemps – A step used to change direction

From the French “contre” for opposite, and “temps” for time, this is a preparatory or in between step, which helps the dancer to change direction.

Corps de Ballet – The ensemble of a ballet company

The group of dancers in a ballet company, working together as an ensemble. Also used in the structure of some ballet companies to denote the main group of dancers.

Corps de Ballet

Côté, de – Sideways

Used to indicate that a step is to be made to the side, either to the right or to the left.

Cote, de

Coupé – A cutting movement

A transfer of weight from one foot to the other as if one leg “cuts” over (in front of) or under (behind) the other.

Cou-de-Pied – A position with one foot attached to the ankle of the supporting leg

From French meaning “neck of the foot,” the working foot is placed on the part of the supporting leg between the base of the calf and the beginning of the ankle. Can be held in front of, beside, or behind the supporting leg.


Coupé Jeté en Tournant – A jump that starts with a turn

A combination of steps, resulting in a movement that turns, leaps and travels. Often done in a series, while travelling in a circular pattern (manége) on the stage.

Croisé – Crossed, one of the directions of the body

A crossed position of the legs from the viewpoint of the audience.


Croix, en – A series of movements that are executed in the shape of a cross

En croix explains the pathway of leg movements to the front, side, and back, or the reverse, back, side, and front.