Sunday, September 21, 2014

Technique Talk: Arabesque

Recently, a dancer asked me about improving her arabesque. Because it was via an online discussion, I didn't have the ability to actually demonstrate or to make personal corrections. I did the best I could but thought it might be helpful to have some photos.

So let's start with the very basic elements of arabesque. The ideal line for a classical ballet dancer is the L shape, where the back is very straight and the leg extends from the lower back/buttocks. Unless your back is extremely flexible, you will likely have to make an adjustment or two to get the preferred line.

Some things to avoid:

DO NOT pinch your lower back.

DO NOT hike your hip.

DO NOT pitch forward with your shoulders just to get your leg higher.  (see below)

Corey shows us what NOT to do.

DO NOT sink back in your knee and throw the weight to the back of your heel.

DO NOT crunch your hip flexors (iliopsoas). (see below)

Corey shows us a collapsed, crunched hip.

Some things to embrace:

DO lengthen the front of your hip.

DO engage the quads and hamstrings and pull up the knee of your standing leg. (see below)

Corey shows us a cleaner line.
DO stretch the working leg away from your fifth position as if drawing a J in the air.

DO aim your toe toward the back of your head.

DO keep your spine straight.

To help you, here are a couple of little videos of me working with my student, Corey McCullough. The first shows you her starting and stopping a couple of times as I make corrections, and the second is her doing it on her own. Note how the muscles of her right leg (standing leg) are pulled up and her working leg lengthens and stretches away from her fifth position. (Thank you, Corey!)

 The above video is me giving direction to Corey.

The above video is Corey doing the arabesque on her own.

Happy dancing~

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