Promenade is a classical ballet term meaning “a walk.” A promenade is when a dancer turns around on one leg with the standing leg’s heel on the floor, while the other leg is in a position such as an arabesque or attitude derriere. It is different than a pirouette, where a dancer is on releve and is spotting as she or he turns. The dancer makes the turn happen by slightly lifting the heel just enough to scoot it en dehors or en dedans while maintaining turnout in the supporting leg.
Promenades can be done solo or with a partner in a pas de deux. When done solo, a promenade is usually done in adagio combinations in ballet class and does not usually make its way into performances. It is usually taught at the beginning intermediate levels of ballet students as it requires a fair amount of strength and understanding of balance to begin trying.
In pas de deuxes, and other forms of partnering, a promenade, or more specifically a tour de promeande (turn in a walk), is very common. The ballerina will be in a position, usually in an arabesque or attitude to the front or back, while the male partner supports her with his hands on her waist or hands. The male partner will then smoothly walk around the ballerina while keeping her on balance. It is true that the male partner makes the turn happen and must be aware of the ballerina’s point of balance, but it is also important that a ballerina be able to reach and maintain a proper position in order for a promenade to look polished.