What is a Reverence in Ballet?

Reverence Celebrates and Honor's Ballet's Teachers and Traditions

The Dress Rehearsal Of A Winter's Trail Takes Place At Salisbury Cathedral
A Winter's Trail Takes Place At Salisbury Cathedral. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

If you've taken a ballet class, chances are you've heard talk of "reverence."

Reverence typically looks like a bow or curtsy, and it is the last exercise of a ballet class, in which the ballet dancers pay respect to and acknowledge the teacher and accompanist.

It is also a bow or curtsy after a performance to acknowledge the applause of the crowd. 

Reverence usually includes bows (for men), curtsies (for women) and ports de bras.

It is a way of celebrating ballet's traditions of elegance and respect.

Variations of the Ritual

Although some form of reverence is common at the end of ballet dance classes, it can take many different expressions. Often, it is a simple bow that is repeated class after class. In other classes, the reverence may be a more detailed series of port de bras and steps (which can be just one more way to practice the moves before class wraps up).

Reverence may also include clapping or may even be incorporated into a routine that is performed as part of a show.

An especially dramatic curtsy or bow is called a grande reverence.

Reverence can also pay respect to your dance partner, the other dancers in your class or group, the audience, the conductor and the pioneers of ballet who are now gone.

About the Word Itself

Reverence is a French word that refers to paying respect to someone in authority (such as a teacher) by a curtsy or bow.

How to pronounce reverence: ray-vay-rahnss