Dance, Inspiration

Classical Ballet – Basic Class Structure

Basics of Ballet – What to expect

In a typical ballet class, exercises for different technique aspects are taught in a pre-set sequence, each one practised in the form of a mini-combination to music, and repeated right and left.

  • No matter the level of the class, no matter where you study, the order of the exercises (see below) remains the same, which means you can take a ballet class anywhere in the world and still feel ‘at home’ in the combinations.
  • For beginner classes the exercises are kept quite simple, yet the full body is still incorporated in all of the movement sequences; from arms, to feet, to fingertips, to even where you look and when you exhale.


Class Structure

A classical ballet class always consists of the following parts:

  1. Pre-Warmup (warm up by yourself before class officially starts)
  2. Barre Work (basic ballet technique combinations at the barre, see below)
  3. Deep Stretches (guided or independent stretching – Check this link for an excellent stretch program for dancers!)
  4. Centre Work (combinations without the barre, see below – executed in smaller groups in the centre of the dance space)
  5. Reverence (a mini combination with port-de-bras, poses and a curtsy to end the class)
  6. Optionally (in some schools this is a separate class, and I will be writing a separate post on this) the class may be followed by Pointe Work

Ballet Terms – What is what?

Check out the following links for extensive ballet term glossaries

Foot Positions

Pictures and short descriptions of the basic ballet foot positions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th)

Barre Work

Combinations are done with the right leg at first (ie. the left hand at the barre) and then repeated on the other side, sometimes with a small balance exercise in between.

Centre Work

Centre work is usually done in groups, starting either in the center/back (for static/traveling combinations) or in the diagonal (for traveling turns and bigger jumping sequences) of the classroom

Inspiration: Vaganova Class Video

For inspiration (and aspiration!), check out this beautiful exam/class video of the Vaganova Ballet Academy – 6th class of 2016


Extras – Academy for Dance Ballet Practice Videos

  • If you’d like to try out some ballet basics at home: check out this free mini-ballet-basics video at Academy for Dance!

MoveSpiration Weekend

  • For those of you who’d like to try ballet (and other movement arts!) in the form of a mini-class/workshop weekend: Check out MoveSpiration – A Crosstraining Weekend for Dancers on August 24-25-26th in Aachen, Germany. All levels welcome!


xx K.

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