The Ritual of the Reverence

The Ritual of the Reverence

The Florida Ballet students perform a reverence after class. Source: YouTube.

Reverence is french for revering or respecting someone of higher stature (authority) by means of a curtsey or bow.

The ritual of the reverence in ballet is performed at the end of a dance sequence on stage before an audience and at the end of each class as a sign of gratitude towards the teacher and the pianist.

Guide to Dance for, writes on the ritual of the reverence in ballet:

The last exercises of a ballet class in which the ballet dancers pay respect to and acknowledge the teacher and pianist [is the reverence]. Reverence usually includes bows, curtsies, and ports de bras, and is a way of celebrating ballet’s traditions of elegance and respect.

Original source here.

In some ballet dancing classes the reverence is an unchanging ritual, and in others the teacher may choreograph a different one each time.  It can take the form of a simple curtsey with a basic port de bras, a bow for men, or a more elaborate series of steps with sweeping port de bras and several changes of direction.

You can never practice flowing port de bras, beautiful hands and elegant epaulement often enough.

Ballet is not just about who we are but who we can become.  Today you thank your teacher for helping you and the pianist for the beautiful music, but one day you may thank your partner for dancing with you, or the conductor for the beautiful music and your audience for their applause.

Here are two examples of reverences from students after class. In class, as on stage, a reverence can be simple or more complex, as you’ll see below.

From TheFloridaBallet Channel on YouTube.

Ellen Davis of leads a reverence after warmup.

What do you think of the ritual of the reverence?

I find it incredibly enjoyable to end a class with this ritual. It signals the culmination of an hour (or more) of hard work (and sweat!)  It’s a great way to say “Thank you.” to my teacher. (We aren’t lucky enough to have a pianist.)

It’s part of what ballet historian Jennifer Homans describes as civility in the treatment of others. I highly recommend  watching her video where she explains the historic meanings behind the five positions of ballet, the costumes, the appearance of pointe shoes and more!

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the reverence please “Like” us below. A small curtesy to you… ;-)

About Romy Macias, Senior Editor

Romy danced with the Ballet Clasico de Queretaro Fernando Jhones for 10 years having reached 1st soloist position. She presently takes on character roles and teaches at the company's junior academy. This site is a testament to her passion for classical ballet. You're invited to be part of our community and join in the joy for this amazing art form.


  1. Louise Myers says:

    Romy, I’m really enjoying learning about ballet. thanks for your informed, behind the scenes peeks!

  2. Donna says:

    Great post. I remember noticing how similar the ‘ritual of reverence’ was between ballet and martial arts – showing appreciation for your teachers and the lineage of your teacher’s teachers.

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