Often called passe, retire is actually the position in which a ballet dancer raises their thigh en l’air with the knee bent so that the pointed foot is placed either in front, behind or to the side of the supporting knee. The difference between passe and retire is that passe is the actual movement in which the leg passes the knee of the supporting leg from one position to another and retire is the position itself.
Retire de cote is the position where the pointed foot is placed on the side of the supporting knee. Retire derriere is when the dancer’s pointed foot is placed behind the supporting knee. Lastly, retire devant is the position where the pointed foot is placed in front of the supporting knee.
The position of retire is extremely common in all areas of ballet. Retire is used in turning, jumping and partnering. It is used by both males and females and is a staple in all ballet techniques.