A Short Glossary of Ballet Terms: Background information when reading Dances

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A Novel

by Nicole Cuffy

Dances by Nicole Cuffy X
Dances by Nicole Cuffy
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  • First Published:
    May 2023, 288 pages

    Feb 6, 2024, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

A Short Glossary of Ballet Terms

This article relates to Dances

Ballet dancers standing en pointeDances by Nicole Cuffy is a novel filled with the mechanics of ballet. Through the first-person narration of her protagonist Cece, Cuffy portrays the everyday rhythms and realities of dance, creating patterns and scenes with its terminology. While the physicality of this language is an art to be enjoyed in itself, having even a cursory knowledge of a few words for various poses and movements can help readers visualize the action Cuffy describes on the page: "And croisé fondu to the front, croisé fondu to the back, plié—use the floor—passé, and développé à la seconde, arabesque, into retiré and rond, double rond with plié, sous-sus, pas de bourrée into fifth, and pirouette, and again—go for double—and soutenu, other side."

Ballet terms are generally in the French language. While the dance form began in 15th-century Renaissance Italy, it came to France in the 16th century via Catherine de Medici, who married ...

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