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Dance Studio Lingo


They’re not real dance terms—but they should be

By Diane Gudat

I often rely on dictionaries to assist me with definitions and spellings of dance terminology. However, my school’s staff uses some terms that do not appear in any dictionary. These words have been borrowed from our peers or have evolved through need or frustration. Although we don’t use most of them openly in the classroom or lobby, many are used frequently in the office and at staff meetings. I’ve listed them here in alphabetical order—get ready to add color to your vocabulary!

Alumnut: A studio graduate who has not been missed very much and who consistently stops by at awkward times. She threatens to start taking class again, but thankfully, never does.

Ara-seconde: An arabesque in which the torso twists in the direction of the working leg, making an extension to the side rather than behind.

Auto-notes: Notes written while driving a car (see “car-eography”), which could include actual dance steps or the name of a good song that came on the radio. They usually appear on the margins of church bulletins, fast-food receipts, and bank envelopes.

Baby-whisperer: A preschool teacher who can get tiny dancers to do anything, including leaving their mothers’ arms and remembering a routine. These people are extremely rare and should be paid any amount they demand for their miraculous gifts.

Ball blah: A ball change with no clean sounds.

Bourrevé: A compound ballet term (bourrée and relevé) referring to a relevé sous-sus in which the dancer cannot stay still and instead takes millions of tiny steps.

Call-aholic: A parent who calls the studio incessantly. These delusional people also expect their calls to be returned in a timely fashion.

Car-eography: Choreography done while driving, often on the way to the studio, and usually triggered by a good song on the radio. Although dangerous, it is a common practice among dance teachers. A common injury caused by this practice is jammed fingers (from slamming them into the dashboard or windshield).

Chore-eography: A piece of choreography that you really do not want to do.

Choreoholics: Teachers who find that whether they want to or not, they simply cannot stop doing choreography.

Cinq-almost: Failure to completely close fifth position.

Daddy-doo: Hair that has been styled by a child’s father rather than the mother.

Dan-senior: Dancers who never show up for rehearsals during their senior year of high school but are in the front of every number. They are experiencing their “last” of everything and are often accompanied by emoti-moms (see definition below) who defend their behavior.

Danzheimers: Loss of memory attributed to lack of space left in the brain due to an overabundance of stupid dance stuff (see SDS).

Day off: A fanciful term for a nonexistent thing.

Demi-dad: A father who has the kids every other Saturday and has no idea what is going on at the studio. He receives no flyers and does not know how long class is or where his child’s shoes are.

Dévelopoo: A développé that gets nowhere.

Econo-mom: A mother who constantly questions how much everything will cost.

Elephant legs: Tights that are so big that they bag at the ankles.

E-maniacs: Parents who send emails constantly. They put you on their chain letter, YouTube, and inspirational phrase lists. They expect a response or an e-hug back. These parents ignore all newsletters and papers sent home from the studio.

Emoti-moms: Overly emotional mothers. Whether it is their child’s first recital or their last, every moment evokes tears, hugs, and meaningful conversations. They purchase videos, photos, and buttons depicting their child at competitions.

Fire hydrant: An attitude in which the leg is too far to the side (like a dog lifting its leg).

Flat tire: A ballet slipper with holes.

Fluffle: A shuffle that is missing a sound.

Ghost dancer: A dancer you cannot picture or remember when you look at the class roster to order costumes from home.

Grand promenade à la toilette: The bathroom parade that happens during a preschool class. First one young dancer decides to use the restroom, and before long just the mention of the word “potty” causes the entire class to make the trip one at a time. Experienced teachers know that once the promenade begins, to stop it means you had better have a mop handy!

Grouch-a-rina: A grouchy ballet student who has just awakened from her car nap or never wanted to go to dance to begin with.

Invert-a-tard: A leotard that has been put on backwards, causing a skimpy rear and saggy front (often a result of the grand promenade à la toilette).

Leosnacker: A child who chews on the front of her leotard. The front of the leotard is always wet and the child’s lips are generally chapped.

Lob-ster: A mom who waits in the lobby during every class and talks everyone’s ears off. She knows everything and everybody and hands out misinformation like it is going out of style.

Momzilla: This strain of mother is named after the giant fire-breathing lizard, Godzilla, that wreaked havoc everywhere it went. The momzilla must be kept at a safe distance. She could explode into fits of rage at any time over any subject. Her unpredictable mood swings can be dangerous.

Para-didn’t: A paradiddle that is missing a sound.

Peek-a-pants: Underwear that sticks out the leg hole of a leotard.

Piggybank: Jazz pants, a skirt, or booty shorts that have headed too far south, refrigerator-repairman style.

Port de whatever: A ballet term for bad use of the arms. (“Grand port de whatever” means really bad arms.)

Quest-aholic: A parent or student who cannot stop asking questions. Often their questions are a ploy to let others know how much the asker really knows.

Queue-d’excuse: The line that students form after class to explain to the teacher why they will not be at the upcoming rehearsal.

Reverse-a-tard: A leotard accidentally worn inside out. Like the invert-a-tard, this can be the result of the grand promenade à la toilette or help from a demi-dad.

SDS: An acronym for “stupid dance stuff” (or a similar phrase).

Shutter-mom: A camera-crazy mother who snaps photos of you and the kids at the most annoying times.

Side moon: The crescent-shaped expanse of skin that becomes visible when the tights slide down past a leotard’s leg opening. The child with a side moon is never aware of it and there is no delicate way to correct it.

Sprinkler: A preschooler who consistently wets the floor.

Swiss tights: Tights with holes.

Tapperina: A tap dancer who inadvertently turns out the legs and feet.

Teapot: A parent or teacher who gets excited at a competition or performance and lets out a loud “Whoooooo!” sounding much like the whistle of a teapot.

Ten-don’t: A tendu in which the legs are not stretched completely.

Tweener: A dancer who takes class between other activities such as Brownies and basketball. She is usually late for class or leaves early, has fast food on her face, and left her shoes in her other bag.

Worms: Ballet shoe elastics that are untied or untucked.

Yee-haw: A tombé that is done rolling through the heel and then onto the ball of the foot instead of in the correct order of toe, ball, and then heel.

Do you have a fun dance term that should be added to our lingo list? If so, send it to


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October 2009
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