wikiHow to Curtsy

Three Parts:Executing a Simple CurtsyPracticing Other Types of CurtsyThe British Lady Curtsy

A curtsy is a polite gesture which is used to show respect and gratitude, usually to someone of a higher social rank or status. In the Western world, it is the female equivalent of bowing. Formerly, curtsying was commonplace in everyday life, but nowadays it is reserved for members of European royalty, along with very specific occasions such as debutante balls and ballet recitals. The movement itself is not complicated, but it requires some practice in order to maintain perfect balance and posture. Should you ever need to expertly execute a curtsy, this article will show you how!

Part 1
Executing a Simple Curtsy

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    Lower your head. Bend your head forward slightly, as if giving a respectful nod. Maintain this head position throughout the curtsy.
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    Hold your skirt. Take the edges of your skirt between the thumb and first two fingers on each hand, with the pinkies extended. Gently pull the skirt out to each side. If the skirt of your dress is too narrow to pull out, just keep your hands down by your sides.
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    Extend your right foot behind the left. Place your right foot a couple of inches behind the left, resting on the ball of your foot. As you do so, shift most of your weight onto the front foot.
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    Bend your knees. Lower yourself down into a curtsy, bending the knees outward, rather than forward. Keep your back straight as you do this -- do not lean forward and do not stick out your behind.
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    Gracefully bring yourself back to your original position. Don't bob straight back up -- slowly and gracefully return to an upright position, lowering your hands back to your sides and raising your head as you do so.

Part 2
Practicing Other Types of Curtsy

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    Do a court curtsy. A court curtsy is a deep form of curtsy used to show respect and deference to members of royalty, usually from European countries. A court curtsy is similar to a simple curtsy, except it involves dipping much lower in order to show greater respect.
    • To perform a court curtsy, extend your right foot behind your left, resting on the ball of the foot. Keeping your back straight and your head lowered, bend your knees outward.
    • Keep lowering yourself down until your right knee almost touches the ground. Stay in that position for a second or two, then slowly raise yourself back to an upright position.
    • This type of curtsy may not sound difficult, but it actually requires a lot of practice to ensure it is performed smoothly, without any jerky movements.[1]
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    Try a ballet curtsy. A ballet curtsy - also known as a révérence - is an elegant curtsy performed at the end of a performance or class to show gratitude to the audience, the pianist, or the instructor. Perform a ballet curtsy using the following steps:
    • Begin in first position. Extend your right leg out to the side, pointing your toe. As you do this, extend your arms outward into second position.
    • Transfer your weight onto your right foot, while extending your left foot a couple of inches behind. Rest the left foot on the tips of your pointed toes.
    • Keeping your back straight, bend your knees outwards into a curtsy. As you bend, bring your arms back to first position and bend your head slightly.[2]
    • Then, maintaining the same foot placement, stretch the legs upwards, raising the arms into fourth position. Lift your head and stretch out your neck and back as you do this.
    • Reverse the movements and repeat on the opposite side to complete the révérence. If you need to recap on the various ballet positions, see this article for guidance.
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    Perform a "Texas dip". The "Texas dip" is an elaborate curtsy performed by debutantes from the state of Texas during the International Debutante Ball. It involves lowering yourself into a deep curtsy, then leaning forward until your head almost touches the floor, allowing your gown to balloon all around you.
    • To do the "Texas dip", raise your arms out in front of you at shoulder height, then extend them out to the sides as you cross your left leg behind your right.
    • Keeping your back straight and your arms extended to the sides, bend your knees and lower yourself down into a deep curtsy. When you can go no further, gently drop down onto your behind.
    • Once sitting, lean forward until your forehead nearly touches the floor. At this point, some debutantes will turn their head to the right to avoid getting lipstick on their gown!
    • Keeping your back bent, raise your head to look at the audience - and don't forget to smile!
    • Finally, grab your escort's hand and slowly and gracefully raise yourself back to a standing position.[3]

Part 3
The British Lady Curtsy

Note: British ladies actually do this when with the Queen.

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    Tilt your head down, as if nodding and pausing.
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    Do not move your arms, unless the person to whom you are curtsying extends for a handshake.
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    Put any foot behind the other (British ladies don't care about the foot they put behind).
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    Slightly bend your knees. British ladies lower themselves an inch and then bob up again. Hold that for three seconds.
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    Come back up quickly.


  • It is also important to know when to curtsy. You must curtsy once when greeting a member of the royal family, then curtsy a second time as the royal leaves.
  • Other circumstances in which women and girls curtsy are at the end of an awards presentation or the end of a music recital or chorus performance. Female children may curtsy when being introduced to visitors for the first time, and girls in Catholic schools might curtsy to the nuns in order to show respect.[1]
  • Your height does not affect your curtsy.


  • Do not get too off balance.
  • Do not stick out your behind.

Article Info

Categories: Courteous Presentation