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.
--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|
--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|
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.