What Is Primary Ballet?

by Marci Blair
Primary ballet is generally for children ages 5 to 8 years.

Primary ballet is generally for children ages 5 to 8 years.

Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Primary ballet is the study of ballet between the pre-primary and regular ballet levels. It is generally for younger children with only the slightest bit of experience and helps them develop proper ballet etiquette, terminology and technique. It also whets their appetite for more serious ballet studies. Often, primary ballet classes culminate in a live, public performance.


In the beginning of primary ballet, sometimes referred to as level 1 or level A, students learn basic terminology including positions, dance steps and terminology for speed and pace. They learn how to discuss alignment properly, and how to pronounce French terms and phrases such as plié, tendu, relevé, retiré and port de bras. In primary ballet level 2 or level B, the students further their understanding of French terminology and expand their dance vocabularies. By level 3 or level C, they should be able to recall and demonstrate the terms they have learned from memory.


Primary ballet is stricter than pre-primary ballet. The classroom etiquette has more rules and regulations. Students learn to intensify their self-discipline and level of focus, and the instructor expects them to take the class more seriously. You will often have a specific uniform to wear and specific instructions on how to have your hair. Generally, studios will have you wear pink or black leotards and tights and have you wear long hair in a ponytail or bun. Students also learn they must be timely, call if they must miss class and be polite and respectful to the teacher.


Students in primary ballet learn basic dance skills, such as how to properly stand, move, leap and bend. They also learn dance structure and begin to explore rhythmic and character dance. They learn proper body placement and focus on flexibility. Depending on skill levels in the class, they may move on to leaps that are more advanced, foot combinations, barre work, spins and balance drills.


Primary ballet is the beginning of more serious dance studies. While the atmosphere is far less strict than formal upper levels, it is the start of discipline development. Students are old enough to begin developing respect for ballet and young enough to balance the class with fun and creativity. Often, the teacher will try to spark creativity and improvisation with floor games and character work.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Marci Blair has been writing, both creatively and professionally, since 1996. She is the founder and producing artistic director of The Arts Bureau for whom she has written plays, screenplays, and all promotional materials and newsletters. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York University with a major in theatre arts and a minor in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images