Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ballet Series: Improving Your Arabesque

     Hello everyone. Happy TGIT! I hope you all are having a lovely week. I am, for sure, but if you're following me on social media, you probably already knew that? I got my cast off yesterday and I couldn't be more happy to have my leg free again!
     I'm really working on making sure this blog is equal parts ballet and lifestyle so today’s post is about ballet. How to improve your arabesque, in particular. This topic was highly requested by followers on my main Instagram account (@ballerinaboss_) as well as girls in my dance class. So without further ado, let’s get right into this post.

Flexibility vs. Strength
     Flexibility really isn’t too important when it comes to arabesques. It’s mainly about strength because you have to hold the arabesque (or attitude) for a while.
     Consider the Rose Adagio in Sleeping Beauty. When Aurora is doing those balances with the princes, her attitude isn’t super high but it does not move. It’s her lower back strength that keeps her attitude from moving.
     Even though flexibility isn’t super important with arabesques, it will still help to some degree. Lower back flexibility will increase the height of your arabesque. Consider the perfect, 110-degree arabesque. The most beautiful thing about it is not the standing leg or the working foot, but the graceful curve in the spine as the leg is extended. Your back’s flexibility will determine the height of your arabesque; if you were not born with a particularly bendy lower back, it will be harder to get a high extension.
     But you can always improve the flexibility in your lower back, regardless of any innate inflexibility. Use the Cobra stretch to gently increase the curve in your spine and take every opportunity to practice your cambrés. The more flexible your spine, the easier it will be to raise and hold the leg in arabesque.
     Please be careful when stretching out your back. I have injured my back many times before and now it's really painful to lift my arabesque higher than 90 degrees.

Keep Your Arms Inside
     As you reach towards the horizon (or the Prince...haha) in an arabesque, keep your arms stabilized; don’t force your shoulder out of its socket when you extend your arm.
Never reach forward with your shoulder. This will destabilize your arabesque and the twist in the spine will ruin the arched upright line. Instead, reach outward from the elbow to the finger tips and lengthen inward from the elbow to the shoulder.
     Once you’ve mastered the inward/outward pull sensation, beautiful arms can both stabilize and raise your arabesque, especially in center adagios.

Drill Down the Standing Leg
     With so much focus on the height of the working leg, it’s all too easy to forget about the standing leg. Turn it out as much as possible from the hip, and unless it’s an arabesque in plié, keep it absolutely straight.
     Imagine your standing leg as a drill pushing a screw into the ground. Push down through the ball of your foot, and lift high up toward the sky from your hip socket. This length is not only more aesthetically beautiful, but also provides an opposing force to drive the working leg higher.

                                          Arabesque from Raise Your Glass solo in 2013.

                                            Arabesque from 2015 at Yosemite National Park.

     So that concludes my post about arabesques. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below if you would like me to do a post on a particular topic. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all in my next post!

Previous Post: Dancing Through Life's Lessons: The Care and Keeping of Friends
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