Penché is a classical ballet term meaning “leaning.” When a dancer is doing or in a penché they are usually bent forward over one leg with the other in arabesque well above 90 degrees. A penché’s arabesque leg can be at many different heights and doesn’t necessarily need to be pointing straight to the ceiling (referred to as a 180 degree penché) though in most classical ballets a 180 degree penché is ideal.
Penché is a ballet position that takes a lot of strength, flexibility, and many years of practice to become good at. It is usually done by ballerinas in classical ballets, but will also find its way into contemporary ballets too. A penché is often considered an iconic pose for a dancer as it shows off both flexibility and strength that aren’t easily done by an average person.