Understanding basic ballet positions, to most people, means the five positions of the feet. Yet, a position more basic than those, is the position your body is in when you are standing with your feet parallel, in a comfortably held good posture. Understanding your personal starting point will help you progress faster.
You may not be asked to do this in a beginner (including adult beginner) ballet class. If your teacher skips this step, you can do it at home.
Stand in front of a mirror in your ballet clothes, or wear shorts and a tight top so you can see your knees, and your general posture. A hard floor is better than a plush carpet. Here are things to notice:
- are your feet evenly touching the floor with your weight distributed evenly between the center of your heel, the little toe joint area and the big toe joint area (this is often called "tripod")
- do your ankles roll inward or outward
- do your calves naturally stand in a straight line upward to your knees, or do they bow out slightly
- do your knees face the front or slightly inward
- are your hips and shoulders level or even a tiny bit uneven
- standing sideways to the mirror, are your knees above your ankles or do they over-straighten and curve behind you
- is there a small curve inward at the small of your back (everyone's natural curve will look different in relation to the shape of their gluteal muscles)
- can you pull the very bottom of your abdomen up and in without changing the tilt of your pelvis
- is your chest lifted allowing your shoulders to relax, not drooping forward
- is your neck relaxed - turn your head slightly from side to side, and up and down a little, to get into a relaxed position
Of course it is your teacher's job to notice all of this, but it gets you ahead if you can see these factors, and correct yourself as much as possible. Always ask for help if you need more information to be sure.
All of the above will determine how you will stand in first, second, third, fourth and fifth ballet positions. Aside from introducing the element of turn out, your understanding of posture and how your feet are placed on the floor, will determine how you progress learning basic ballet positions.
Learn more details about accurate ballet positions and movements like retire, releve, and how to correct your turnout and posture for executing ballet barre exercises.