The arabesque is one of the basic positions in classical ballet. The position consists of one straight leg aligned behind the dancer while the other leg supports the position. The supporting leg can be either straight or bent, depending on the choreography. The arabesque position is not limited to one form and can have variations with the arms as well as the position of the body.

In addition to the variations with the arms, an arabesque can be performed as either a still or moving position. The arabesque can also be used as a transition or a position to turn in, as shown in the video below. The position can also be performed on demi-pointe or en pointe.



Greskovic, Robert. “Arabesque.” In International Encyclopedia of Dance, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen, Vol. 1., 100-101. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Return to Glossary

Updated March 25, 2020.