Updated: Apr 16, 2020
We have already used the term "position" on several occasions in a general meaning that may apply to any part of the body.
In classical dance, the word position means: "leg position with both flat feet." In this case, we will use the term fundamental position.
There are five of them forming the basis, not only of dance but of all legs movement.
The rigor of the law of the en dehors in classical dance has led the neo-classical to add two positions, bringing the total to seven. But these are just normal variants of already known fundamental positions.
We will study each of the five fundamental positions in detail.
In the first position the heels touch each other. It is normal if the feet are in contact from heel to heel, and increasingly en dehors, when the feet open up to reach the outside when the feet are in a straight line.
The neo-classical call sixth position the first normal. The neo-classical do keep the name of la premiere for the "en dehors" position.
The second position is standard. It's the one of right balance: the legs deviate sideways to enlarge the sustentation polygon
They are put all the more easily apart as they are more spread out. The Classic rule wants a gap in the length of afoot.
In the third position, the heel of a foot reaches the middle of the other foot. It is intermediate between the first and fifth, reasons to move away from it in favor of the fifth. It's not a natural position, and crossing of the feet reduces the balance. This position is, however, useful for beginner's exercises that would not place themselves properly in the fifth position.
With the fourth position, we find a natural position balanced. It is based on the same principle as the second: the spread of the feet.
But while, in the second, this one was lateral, in the fourth it is done forward, this posture ensures an even more stable seat. In classical dance, it often serves to the preparation of tours and the end of maneges too fast to be completed in the fifth position. As with the second, the gap must be one foot long.
The neo-classical gave the name of septieme to the quatrieme normal, but they very rarely take it flat, and usually climb into that position on pointe almost always bent until the toes rest on the nails
There are two intermediate positions, the quatrieme ouverte and the quatrieme croisee. The first is intermediate between the seconde and the quatrieme. The quatrieme croisee is taken with the legs more crossed, as the name suggests, but without the thighs touching each other.
As for the cinquieme position, toes against talon (heel) of the other foot, it is a forced position. It is continuously used today in dance Classique, it is the starting position of almost every step.
The starting position of a natural movement is the first. in gymnastics, for example, we start "joint heels, open toes."
Le dehors became a rule of classical dance very early, makes the toes fully open. Both feet on the same line form a long rectangular narrow polygon. So the balance is delicate.
Crossing your feet in the third, you find a better balance; that's the position from the classic steps to the 19th century.
The concern for surpassing,- the emulation reigning between the dancers,-led tightening the third, up to the fifth, which has become the starting position
It should be noted that at the end of the 19th century, when all the textbooks stated that steps start in the fifth, the first photographs show us only third.
Source: Grammaire de la danse, Germaine Prudhommeau, Georgette Bordier