Ballet Terms: P







A term meaning step or a series of steps in ballet.

Pas de Basque – A movement which transfers the weight from one foot to the other

Meaning step of the Basque region. An intermediary step, moving from one foot to the other, making a half circle; springing lightly from the starting foot to land on the other.

Pas de Bourrée – A very common three-step-movement

Pas de Bourrée is a linking step, involving three stepping or closing actions. May travel in any direction and finish in an open or a closed position.

Pas de Bourrée Couru – A series of small, quick, even steps with the feet close together

From the French word for “run”, Pas de Bourrée Couru is made up of tiny, quick, even steps which make a dancer appear to float across the stage. Can be done en pointe or demi-pointe. Often abbreviate to just bourrées. Same as pas de bourrée suivi.

Pas de Bourrée Piqué – A three-step-movement

The same concept as Pas de Bourrée, but with each released foot lifted toward the knee.

Pas de Cheval – A movement that looks like the pawing of a horse

From the French, meaning horse’s step, this moves the leg as if a horse is pawing the ground. Often done with a jump.

Pas de Couru

A running step, often used as a link between big jumps.

Pas de Deux – A dance for two


Pas de Valse – A waltz step in ballet

Similar to a balancé, this step is done in the time signature of 3/4, but is characterized by its down, up, up movement pattern. Can be done on the spot or travelling. 

Passé – A passing leg movement

A term used to describe the drawing up of the toes and the passing of the leg or foot from front to back or vice versa. Can be used to denote the passing of the working foot through any position.


From French, meaning leaning or inclining. A forward leaning movement in arabesque.

Piqué – A sharp movement, likened to prick or sting

Two usages: one is a sharp, bouncing movement where the toe taps on and off the floor, and the other is stepping directly on the point or demi-pointe of the working foot in any direction or position with the other foot raised in the air. 

Plié – Folding motion of the legs

A fundamental step in ballet, where the legs fold with the knees bending, in order to change levels.

Pirouette – A spinning or turning step with many variations

A complete turn of the body on one leg. Can be done with a single or multiple rotations.

Pirouette á la Seconde – A turning step with the working leg extended to the side

A complete turn of the body, standing on one foot, with the other leg extended to the side. Often done continuously. 

Polonaise – A grand walking dance in 3/4 time

A processional court march which is often seen in classical ballets like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

Port de Bras – Carriage of the arms

Port de bras is the term for the use of the arms, which encompasses all arm positions in ballet.