The following is a post by Caitlin Ray, a former Instructor at Belly Motions, Inc., a World Dance Studio located in Miami, Florida.  For more information visit

So your Belly Dance teacher has started teaching footwork and all of sudden – she’s using ballet terms – and they’re in French!

What do they mean?!?!


1)      Relevé – Translated as “lifted,” this term refers to rising from flat-foot to the toes. In Belly Dance, we only rise to what is considered “demi-pointe” where the heels are lifted and the weight is carried on the pads of the feet.

2)      Rond de jambe – Literally translates to “circle of the leg,” though in practice, we perform only a half-circle. If you want to get fancy, the rond de jambe we typically perform in Belly Dance is called “rond de jambe à terre” because our foot remains on the floor. Ooo-la-la!

3)      Arabesque – Translates to “in the Arab style”. Hey, wait! You mean ballerinas got their inspiration for this move from the Middle East?! Absolutely! In this movement, the body is supported on one leg, usually in demi-pointe, with the other leg extended to the side, toes pointed. (Though, in ballet, you will see other variations!)

4)      Pas de bourrée – Literally translates to “step of Bourrée,” Bourrée being an Auvergne dance. It is made up of three quick steps. In the Belly Motions Level 3 classes, students learn what we refer to as the “pas de bourrée front” stepping front, side, behind or the “pas de bourrée back” stepping behind, side, front.

5)      Plié – Meaning “bent,” plie’ refers to the bending and subsequent straightening of the knees.

So now, a quick test! In Belly Dance, we often perform a slight plié before an arabesque to make the transition to relevé easier… Did ya catch all that?! Good! See how much you have learned? Your teacher will be so proud – I know this one is! 😉