...because I certainly do have pet peeves in other parts of the class. Okay, here are a few to watch yourself for next time you're in class:
Egregious Error #1. "Flicking" the hands in an allonge line. Ooh, does this one bug me! I will see a dancer fondu or pique to a lovely arabesque and then, rather than roll the shoulder back and stretch her arm, she merely flicks her wrist as if to say, "Voila!"
Why this happens: Typically, the hands are whisked back when a dancer is losing her balance. She may be at the barre or in the center and attempting to hold an arabesque but when she takes both hands off the barre or raises them over her head, she starts to fall. She throws the hands up and away.
How to avoid this: Remember that allonge comes from the French meaning "to lengthen," so you want to start your line from the back. Gather the impetus for the stretched line from behind the shoulder, under the blade, and then roll the shoulder down and back; the arm stretches behind the head from there and continues to the fingertips. Think 3-dimensionally with the arm so it does not skip fifth en haut. Do not break the line at the wrist and be sure to turn the head to follow the arm as it moves.
Egregious Error #2: "Magic arms" during grand jete developpe. More "Voila!" arms. As a dancer throws her leg in front of her for a jete, she also throws the arms out in front of her, jutting them as a magician might when he gestures to a lady cut in half.
Why this happens: The dancer is concentrating so hard on the leg doing a grand battement developpe that she "develops" the arms as well. The arms and hands merely mimic what is happening with her front leg.
How to avoid this: Again, think 3-dimensionally with your arms and let the gesture begin with the middle of the back. Gather the arms in fifth en bas as you plie before your jete, bring them through the 3rd position via 1st position so they take up more space. This way the arms will not look like crocodile jaws either.
Egregious Error #3: "Magnet hands" in petit allegro. Imagine your thighs have magnets and so do your hands and when you jump, they attach themselves to each other. Not pretty and not efficient, either.
Why this happens: Well, you want to get high off the ground, don't you? Contrary to popular belief, your shoulders do NOT help you jump higher. I joke, of course, but it's true. Many times, a dancer will push very hard off the floor with her feet but rather than use her plie to get a greater lift or spring her toes for more impetus, she uses her shoulders. Then the arms stiffen and the hands go straight down to her legs.
How to avoid this: When you do petit allegro steps like changements or entrechat quatres (or trois, etc.), remember to bend your knees and push your heels off the floor. Roll through your demi-pointe and spring with your toes. As for your arms, when holding them in a low fifth, be sure to keep space between them and your legs - once more, think 3-dimensionally. Leave some breath under your elbows and imagine a cloud of air lifting you under your elbows and upper arms. And yes, engage your upper back! There are muscles there too, remember, and they will help get you off the ground.