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Monday, March 16, 2015

Pet peeve: Flyaways!

I'm not talking about those little wispy hairs that need to be gelled down before a performance.

I mean flyaway arms.

When I teach, especially students who are new to ballet, I emphasize clean lines and simple arms. But when I encounter more experienced dancers, even advanced dancers, they sometimes have flashy and ostentatious hands and arms which perform fancy little flourishes when they are at the barre.

Some examples:

--an arm that lifts far above the shoulder in second position and one that forms an undulating S-curve on a grand plie.
Flyaway arms in second

Proper arms in second
 --an arm that is raised high above the head in an arabesque, in which the hand is nearly straight up and down like a salute, rather than one that is placed in front of the nose, with eyes over the middle fingers.

--arms that cross as they are lifted from fifth en bas to fifth en haut, instead of keeping a circular arm.

--hands that break at the wrist when they are held in fifth en bas during small jumps.

 
Bad fifth en bas

Proper fifth en bas
Many dancers think flourishes such as these make them appear more delicate but instead, they look weak. Arms that are simple and clean emphasize the line of the body.

More important than the look, however, is how strong and simple arms help lift you during jumps, adagio, and turns. If your arms are weak, that usually means the back muscles are not engaged and if that is the case, you have that much more work to do with the rest of your body. Let your arms help you!

*Please note in the "bad" photos above that the young woman is not actually performing ballet but the photos are representative of the arm positions I am describing.

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