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theater-lingo

Flashback: Brush Up Your Theater Lingo!

Though dance is ancient: older than speech, it is a playground for both the young and elderly. Adorning cave walls ahead of words, dance is an art both decorative and communicative–a secret code between slaves, a prayer to the gods for rain, a story played out on stage.

Like any art, dance is a mirror held to the world at large, steadily evolving parallel to fashion, politics, gender roles, cultural trends and superstition. Within the twirling language of dance is a sub-language. Not the French plié or promenade, but the superstitious old slang of the theater. Passed from veteran to pupil, these words stick from the earliest of stages, spoken like a reflex.


  • “Good luck!”
  • “Merde!”
  • “Break a leg!”
  • “Toi toi tio!”
  • Blue Dye
  • Green Room



  • Upstage/Downstage
  • Peacock Feathers
  • Whistling
  • Going Dark
  • Ghost Light
  • Superstition


Click the images to reveal the stories behind the sayings.

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Post by Leah O'Donnell

From Ann Arbor Michigan, Leah came to New York to study at The Joffrey Ballet School and The New School University. She has since danced with The Metropolitan Opera and as an original cast member of Jerry Mitchell’s hit musical “Peepshow”. Leah has performed with recording artists including Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake and Nicki Minaj, in films including Across the Universe, Away We Go, and The Smurfs, and on television shows including Saturday Night Live, Gossip Girl and 30 Rock. She lived for six months in Athens, Greece dancing for their biggest pop star, Anna Vissi. Leah has been featured in Allure magazine, on the cover of Philadelphia Weekly, and on a billboard in Times Square. Leah is also a freelance writer.

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