This article is from the Ballet and Modern Dance FAQ, by Tom Parsons firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
The first ballet school was in France, and the terminology was
crystallized there. Nearly everything in ballet is described by a French
word or phrase. (You even wish dancers good luck in French. Actors wish
one another good luck before a performance by saying, "Break a leg!"
Dancers say, ""Merde!"") The drawback of this is that you must learn the
French names for the steps and movements; but you would have to learn
*some* names in any case, and the advantage is that you can take a ballet
class anywhere in the world and, no matter how unintelligible the rest of
the talk is, the terminology will still be in French and you will