The arabesque, a figure symbolic of ballet, was first defined as body attitude by Italian ballet master Calro Blasis. Falcone discusses a strong influence on Blasis’ theory from artists who took inspiration from the frescoes of Herculaneum excavated in the middle of 18th century, when the concept ‘arabesque’ was introduced into dance. This essay revisits the prehistory of arabesque from a different perspective than Falcone’s, focusing the close relation of the decorative art to dance from the 17th century, especially its relation to mascarade and dance notation. With this view, I study texts, in which ‘arabesque’ is referred to, by leading 18-century choreographers Noverre, Dauberval and Pierre Gardel and examine their different interpretations of the term, taking into account the fact that ‘arabesque’ was a synonym of ‘grotesque’ at that time. I also delve into the functions of the constructional elements, lines and figures, of arabesque in the decorative art and how their counterparts of arabesque in ballet work. Finally, regarding arabesque in ballet as a kind of device for transforming the body from a present figure into another, I argue that Blasis’ arabesque could first emerge when the dancing body was to be made through technique, not through disguise.