What Does Dégagé Mean in Ballet?

Ballet, with its graceful movements and precise technique, has captivated audiences for centuries. One of the fundamental steps in ballet is known as “dégagé.” In this blog post, we will explore what dégagé means in ballet and how it is performed.

Understanding Dégagé

Dégagé (pronounced day-gah-zhay) is a French term that translates to “disengage” or “unstick.” In ballet, it refers to a movement where the working foot swiftly moves off the floor while maintaining contact with the ground. This step aims to showcase the dancer’s ability to extend their leg gracefully and precisely.

The Execution

To perform a dégagé, dancers start from either first or fifth position. They then transfer their weight onto one leg while keeping their knees straight but not locked. The working foot remains in contact with the floor as it slides away from the supporting leg.


– Stand tall with your feet together.
– Ensure proper posture by lengthening your spine and engaging your core muscles.


1. Start by shifting your weight onto one leg (the standing leg).
2. As you maintain your balance on this leg, slide or brush the other foot along the floor.
3. The working foot should move directly outwards while remaining fully stretched.
4. Keep both legs straight but relaxed throughout this movement.
5. To complete one dégagé, bring back the working foot next to or slightly touching your supporting ankle without transferring more weight onto it.

Different Variations of Dégagés

In ballet training and performances, dancers encounter various types of dégagés. Here are some common variations:

Dégagé à la seconde:

This dégagé involves extending the foot to the side while keeping both legs straight and turned out. The working foot can reach different heights, such as low (ankle level), middle (knee level), or high (hip level).

Dégagé devant:

In this variation, the working foot moves forward from either first or fifth position. It requires control and precision to execute a clean line without any wobbling.

Dégagé derrière:

Similar to dégagé devant, this variation involves moving the working foot backward from either first or fifth position. It emphasizes balance and elegance while maintaining proper alignment.

Purpose of Dégagés in Ballet

Dégagés serve multiple purposes in ballet training and performances:

– Strengthening: By engaging various leg muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, dégagés help build strength for more complex movements.
– Flexibility: This step aids in improving flexibility through consistent stretching of leg muscles.
– Coordination: Dancers enhance their coordination by aligning their upper body with precise leg movements during dégagés.
– Technique Development: Practicing dégagés allows dancers to refine crucial technical elements like turnout and pointed toes.


Dégags play an essential role in ballet technique as they contribute to a dancer’s strength, flexibility, coordination, and overall gracefulness on stage. Mastering this fundamental step requires dedication and practice but ultimately helps dancers achieve fluidity in their movement vocabulary.