Grade One Theory Work

WARM UP 6/8 into 3/4

The build-up to an instep stretch is:
Walking and running in Preparatory

The build-up to the transference of weight is:
Sways and gallops – Preparatory
Balletic warm-up A – Primary

The build-up to the circular arm action is:
Balletic Warm Up B – Primary

There is a signature change in this exercise from a 6/8 to a 3/4. The 6/8 should be light and bouncy, the 3/4 will have a flowing and smooth feel.


  • Hands are on finger belt. The hands should be facing downwards with a continuous line from the elbow down to the tip of the middle finger. Encourage a good standing posture with the body well lifted and weight out of the heels.
  • Enforce a good push over onto the instep stretch, really working the whole of the foot. A common fault is that students don’t lift the heel up high enough and the ankle can be prone to rolling outwards. The foot needs to make a strong platform, some students find it hard to push through the toes and try and go up onto the tip of the toes.
  • The knee is over the toes.
  • The instep stretch could be practised at the barre before bringing into the centre.
  • Enforce engagement of the abdominals and tilt the pelvis under.
  • Avoid any hip movement during the instep stretch section. Eliminate any side to side action.
  • Dismiss any sitting in the hips, the body weight should be lifted.
  • The supporting leg should remain straight but not locked whilst the working leg is bent. Execute a smooth even transference of weight between the legs, avoiding any variable movements.


  • The transference of weight footwork has already been touched upon in the Preparatory Sways and Gallops and Primary Balletic Warm Up B.
  • The circular arm action we have seen in Primary Balletic Warm Up B.
  • Teach the co-ordinated arms swings separately before adding in the footwork. The action should have weight behind it.
  • The most accented beat in a 3/4 is count 1 so this should be shown in the arm action.
  • The arms should have a feeling of softness that is accompanied with weight.
  • As the arms swing across in front of the body there should be no rotation of the torso. Hips must stay facing the front.
  • In the full circle arm action, the arms should be at their highest point on the elevation, getting a good lift throughout the body.
  • The arms must work in time with the legs.
  • Turn out must be worked on during the transference of weight, in Primary it should be recognised and students should try to achieve this.
  • The run towards the barre should be uplifted with a good demi-pointe achieved.
  • Try practicing running from corner to corner. Make sure that the feet aren’t shuffling along and that the weight is being projected forward. Good positioning of the arms is required in a demi second.
  • End in a good instep stretch at the barre.


The build-up to pliés is:
Point and close – Preparatory
Knee bends in 1st position – Primary

Hands start in bras bas and place on the barre in the intro.

  • This is the first time in the syllabus that we see a Demi plié in 3rd position and a full plié in 2nd.
  • The 3rd position is placed by the instep of the supporting foot. The front foot must be encouraged to hold the turnout.
  • In 3rd position the pelvis is more inclined to tip, working the core is essential
  • Encourage the knees over the toes.
  • Weight needs to be central during the Demi and full plié.
  • The rise should have a strong instep stretch. Students would have already done rises in the centre in the Transference of weight exercise. By now they should be used to engaging their core with an upright feel to the rise with the weight out of the heels.
  • Legs should be strong and grounded in the rise. A solid position is essential.
  • In the full plié to 2nd position. Encourage good posture with the back straight and the pelvis tilted under. avoid the upper body dropping forward.
  • A common fault is that the pelvis tilts back allowing the lower back to arch. This is normally because the plié is taken too low.
  • When the plié is taken too low the bottom drops, and sitting position is executed.
  • The full plié shouldn’t stop at the bottom of the action. Once at its lowest point it should start to pull back up.
  • As in 3rd position the knees should be over the toes and the heels securely grounded.
  • The power comes from legs on the return up and not from pulling up on the barre.


The build-up to a glissé is:
Tendus to 2nd in Weight transference – Primary

  • This is the first time that a glissé has been introduced into the syllabus.
  • The height of a glissé is just off the floor. The pressure through the foot determines the height of the glissé.
  • Encourage a good push through the foot, this can prove quite hard as students might not be able to feel this action nor have the strength.
  • The leg needs to be solid when hitting the glissé position, there is no movement at the end of the action.
  • Place a hand on the top of the foot and ask the student to push their foot along the floor with the foot ending off the floor in the glissé position, this will give them some resistance to work against and get them use to the feel of the action.
  • Legs must be strong and straight.
  • Distinguish the difference between the tendu and glissé.
  • The working foot needs to stay in contact with the floor on the way out until the last moment where it leaves the floor into the glissé position. The foot must not waver.
  • The toe is the last part of the foot to leave the floor on the way out, and the first part of the foot to touch the floor on the way in. Using the floor to pull the foot back into 1st position.
  • The hips may have a tendency to move on the tendus and glissé. Encourage core strength and with both hips facing the barre.
  • Encourage a good pull up out of the supporting leg. The pelvis should not tip sideways.
  • Sustain the turnout.
  • Establish the petits retiré position by reminding students that the working knee is facing outwards, and the placement is on the side of the ankle. A re-cap over petits jêtes would help as this positioning is identical apart from the foot positioning.
  • The heel of the working foot must not touch the supporting leg.
  • Hips to stay in alignment.
  • A progression through the foot is vital from the standing in 1st position into the petit retiré position and closing back into 1st position.
  • Don’t let the foot flex as it is placed down into 1st position. As mentioned in the above point, if the foot is working properly this shouldn’t be an issue.
  • In a full retiré the foot should come up to the side of the knee and there should be an anchored turnout.
  • Only the toe should be touching the knee, a common fault is the foot relaxes and the heel touches the leg.
  • Avoid sickling. Concentrate on the little toes being pulled back to avoid the sickled position.
  • Get a good pull up in the supporting leg lifting out of the waist.
  • As in the petits retiré, a good foot progression is needed on closing.


We have seen the plié and stretch action in:
Point and close – Preparatory
Step and close with pointe exercise – Primary

  • As this is the first exercise standing sideways to the barre make sure that the arm to 2nd is in a good strong position. This can be hard to maintain as the student is concentrating more on the feet than what their arm is doing.
  • There is lack of strength in the arm and it will have a tendency to droop.
  • Remind students of the Primary positions of the arms and how they went to 1st position out to 2nd position. This is the action they use to prepare their arms at the barre.
  • The arm should be held in a soft downward slope. Shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers. The biggest mistake is to let the elbow relax and drop.
  • Maintaining a good curvature of the arm.
  • The hand that is on the barre should be slightly in front of the body and have a slight bend in it. Avoid standing too far away or too close to the barre.
  • The legs need to work together throughout this exercise. We have already seen the bend and stretch action in Preparatory Pointe and Close and Primary Step Close Step and Point exercise. Remind the students of this action, the feeling should be smooth and seamless.
  • The supporting leg should straighten fully after the knee bend, with both legs working together.
  • As both legs come into first position a demi plié should be seen.
  • When the foot is coming from derrière to devant the pelvis can end up tilting upwards and not following the action through
  • On the closing of the foot either devant or derrière, the working foot should stay flat on the floor. There is a tendency to roll the ankle and the foot is dragged on the side into 1st position.
  • Be aware of loss of turnout especially when passing the leg to derrieré.
  • Try and work the rotation in the hip without the pelvis rotating.
  • This action is the beginning of ronde de jambes, en cloche and chassé passé through 1st position.


The build-up to grande battements is a battement tendu seen in
Pointe and Close – Preparatory
Step Close Step and Pointe – Primary

  • A preparatory grand battement is broken down into 4 actions: Pointe, lift, pointe and close. 
  • The highest point of the grande battement should be 45 degrees.
  • The supporting leg may bend instead of staying straight and strong. This can sometimes occur because there is lack of flexibility in the back and leg.
  • The upper body may bend forward again due to lack of flexibility and trying to throw the leg too high. In this situation take the leg lower, it is better to have a lower leg than bad technique.
  • The leg executing the grande battement could bend, this is due to the fact that the leg muscles aren’t being held tight.
  • The throw comes from the power behind the leg, imagine from the back of the thigh down to the knee. The movement shouldn’t come from the front of the thigh as if it is being lifted. 
  • In this grande battement the accent is ‘UP’.
  • The leg is thrown up and controlled down.
  • The toe is first in contact with the floor on the downward action.
  • The placement of the toe on the floor after the grand battement should be controlled and not down come down with weight.
  • Make sure the placement of the foot into 3rd position is turned out. Encourage the toes of the closing foot to pull back.
  • The turn towards the barre should be done with a strong demi-pointe. Make sure the back foot stays behind and doesn’t get placed to the front.
  • All the above applies to the grands battements derrière. Make sure that the back doesn’t drop forward and that the leg has a good turn out.
  • Don’t force height in the derrieré position. The leg should stop at the natural height where no body correction takes place.
  • When turning to the other side make sure that the arm passes through 1st position into 2nd position. The hand holding the barre should move forward to compensate the turn. 


The build-up to Positions of the Arms is:
Dancing Arms – Preparatory
Preparation for port de bras – Primary

  • Bras bas, 1st, 2nd and 5th position has already been taught in preparation for port de bras in Primary. The new positions are now 3rd and 4th.
  • 3rd position: One arm stays in 2nd position and the other arm moves into 1st position creating the 3rd position.
  • There is a tendency to take the front arm too high, it should be opposite the belly button. If the front arm is taken too high then the bodyweight will get thrown backwards.
  • Encourage a good curve on the front arm. When the 3rd position is used during a moving step the front arm tends to angle itself, this needs to be avoided.
  • 4th position: Keep one arm in 2nd position and move the arm that was in front up to 5th. Keep the arm in 5th slightly in front of the body line, your students should be able to see into the palm of their hand. Explain that the moving arm shouldn’t change shape and should be held in a soft curve.
  • Remembering the position of the arm in 2nd position – shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers.
  • As with all arm exercises, the exercise should be executed with control and have a seamless feel.
  • Don’t neglect the posture and foot positioning. The legs want to have a good pull up and a strong core is required.
  • Keep the bodyweight forward with the weight out of the heels.


The build-up to allegro warmup is:
Little jumps and big jumps – Preparatory
Sautés and echappés – Primary

  • Finger belt is required. The hands are placed on the waist with the fingers facing downwards. The arm should be in a straight line from the elbow down to the tip of the fingers. Don’t allow the wrist to break the arm line.Keep shoulders down and elbows slightly forward. Make sure the shoulders don’t move during elevation.
  • This is the first time closing in 3rd position. The foot positioning must stay in a tight 3rd on landing.
  • The tendency is to either under or overshoot the position or have a space between the feet. It does take some precision to get the closure correct.
  • Echappés to 2nd have already been taught in Primary (refer back to Primary grade notes) but without alternative closings.
  • Keep the upper body lifted and avoid any leaning forward on the landing of the sautés and echappés.
  • In any allegro step the demi plié is essential, without this elevation will be limited and difficult to execute.
  • The demi plié is the spring board into the elevated step.
  • The closing in 3rd position is the beginning of a changement.
  • Strength in the legs is fundamental.


The build-up to the preparatory glissade is:
Sways and gallops – Preparatory
Transference of weight – Primary
Foot exercise – Grade One

  • Before starting to teach the exercise explain to your students the difference between a glissade devant and a glissade derrière. Devant the front foot starts and remains at the front. Derrière the back foot starts and remains at the back.
  • This exercise could be taught at the barre. The advantage of doing the exercise at the barre is the student will have support to maintain the plié, and get a good foot placement without having to initially worry about balance.
  • This exercise requires strength in the legs to maintain the plié throughout.
  • The preparatory glissade is made up of a tendu, transference of weight and a close into 3rd a demi plié.
  • The tendu is on a fondu. The supporting leg needs to stay turned out, keep the weight out of the working leg and avoid sitting in the supporting hip.
  • On the transference of weight, the supporting foot is the one that will give you the projection sideways, your students need to have a feeling of pushing their body weight into the working foot.
  • Both feet should be in contact with the floor at all times. The action is long and low with a small lift in the middle of the action.
  • The transition should be smooth and flowing, the 2nd foot must have contact with the floor as it returns to 3rd position into a plié.
  • Be aware of the arm positioning and that a good 3rd is perfected throughout.
  • Changements have already been taught in the allegro warm up so apply these teaching points to the exercise.


The build-up to the retiré passé is:
Full retiré in Foot Exercise – Grade One

The build-up to the pointe on fondu is:
Step close step and pointe – Primary
Spring pointe and pas de cheval – Primary

The build-up to the step and point action is:
Transference of weight – Primary
Step close step and point – Primary

  • `The exercise starts in a fondu. Ensure the supporting knee is in a good turnout. Without this, balance can be an issue with this position.
  • The pelvis must be tilted under.
  • The fondu position is in the Primary: Step and pointe with balance exercise and the spring points and pas de cheval exercise meaning that students should now be aware of this action.
  • Both feet must point for the step into the posé temps levé action. We have seen the step and point action in Primary: Transference of weight and step and point with balance.
  • There is a tendency to drag the second foot and neglect pointing the toe. Plus not allowing the foot to have contact with the floor so almost walking the step through.
  • Heels must be placed down but with a feeling of lightness, with a toe lead.
  • As the leg is lifted into the attitude devant position the placement of the working foot needs to pass through 1st position. This is very important and will help eliminate the working leg being lifted across the body.
  • The foot passes into 1st position and is lifted directly up in front of the body. Avoiding any crossing over the body action.
  • By achieving this good foot placement it will eliminate any twisting of the hips or shoulders.
  • A good way to get your students to obtain this is to get them to imagine they have a line running down the centre of their bodies and their foot isn’t allowed to cross over this line.
  • The attitude devant position needs to have good placement. The leg position should have the highest point as the hip, then knee, then foot. Make sure that the foot doesn’t get lifted higher than the knee.
  • Power needs to come through the supporting leg to get elevation in the temps levé.

  • This should be taught separately from the rest of the exercise and be broken down into sections.
  • The skips can be taught first. Get your students to practice the positioning of the foot at the barre, the foot should hit the retiré position. Once you are satisfied with this get your students skipping backwards.
  • Ensure that the foot is placed in 3rd position each time the retiré passé action is executed. There is a tendency to just place the foot down where it lands neglecting any consideration to placement.
  • Turn out on each skip, once the knees start becoming parallel the foot placement in 3rd is lost.
  • The body can rock from side to side when skipping. Take the skip upwards not backwards. The passé is the part of the step that will move the action backwards.
  • Keep a strong core with a secure finger belt position.
  • Students have already done spring points in Primary grade so should be used to this step. Refer back to the Primary spring point exercise for faults.
  • Once you are satisfied that the compound step can be executed efficiently add the 2 parts of the exercise together.


The build-up to the progressive enchaînment is:
Walking and running – Preparatory
Step and hop enchaînment – Primary

The arm positions are teachers choice. These need to be kept simple as the arms and feet are now coordinating together.

  • Balance and core come into play on these first 3 steps of the exercise. You will need to make sure that the foot placement starts in 3rd position. The second step closes into 1st position and a good instep stretch should be achieved.
  • Knees need to be pulled up with no relaxation in them.
  • Make sure that the action is a step and not a slide.
  • The feet must join in 1st position.
  • The temp levé should not travel forward this is in place. There is a tendency to travel because the steps have been moving forward.
  • Keep the extended leg at a low level.
  • The above steps could be practised on their own travelling across the studio.
  • Students have already achieved petit jetés in Primary in the Step and hop enchainment. Now they need to be turned which can cause disorientation.
    To help with the turning mark out points on the floor with beanbags or floor mats as to where your students need to turn to. This will help them focus on their direction.
  • Turn out and foot placement can be lost when turning the petits jetes.
  • Avoid the foot that is derrière wrapping around the supporting leg or the toe touching the floor.
  • The ending position is the teachers choice.


This curtsey or bow is the same as the Primary exercise. Don’t neglect this part of the syllabus as this carries marks in an examination.
After the curtesy or bow, the students need to say thank you to the examiner and the person operating the music.
Depending on where the door to your studio is either number 1 or 4 will lead the group out.


If you would like to have a go at some questions regarding this grade click the link below.