Arabesque is a very technically challenging skill for young dancers to master. Keeping proper alignment and rotation while lifting the leg to its maximum height requires strength, flexibility, and control. However, it is important not to cheat your technique in order to give the illusion of a higher arabesque! Instead, follow these tips to improve your lines.
1. Develop abdominal, back, and rotator strength
The first thing a dancer must develop in order to execute a beautiful arabesque line is strength. Although skilled dancers can make an arabesque look easy, they are actually utilizing an amazing amount of strength in the back, legs, rotators, abdominals, and arms to create and hold the shape.
In order to control your arabesque, you must actively engage your abdominals to keep the pelvis aligned, engage your back muscles to keep your torso upright, and engage your rotators to achieve even turnout in both the standing and working legs.
2. Stretch regularly
Once a dancer has the strength to execute a flawless arabesque, he or she will need to develop flexibility in the hamstrings, spine, and rotators. The height of the arabesque is irrelevant if the working leg is not fully extended through the knee, the spine is not lengthened, and the standing leg is not rotated. This all requires a suppleness that can only be achieved with adaquate stretching.
3. Send equal energy in all directions
The ideal arabesque is all about weight distribution and counterbalance. The dancer must simultaneously ground the standing leg and lift the spine away from the hips. In order to do this, he or she should think of the standing leg as a corkscrew, rotating into the floor, and think of the spine as lengthening up and out to avoid crunching.
The other necessary counterbalance is between the toes and the fingers. In order to achieve the maximum amount of length in the arabesque line, a dancer should imagine equal energy going out through the working toes and the forward hand. This length will aid with both stability and stretch.
4. Keep the body square and rotated
Most dancers are aware that a beautiful arabesque requires turn out. However, fewer dancers realize that in order to counterbalance the rotation in the lower half of the body, there should also be a rotation in the upper half of the body. This is how the shoulders and hips stay square. Beyond simply rotating the standing and working legs, the dancer must have an oppositional rotation in the rib cage, creating an “S” shape in the body. For example, if the left leg is lifted in arabesque, the dancer should pull up through the front of the left hip and rotate the right side of the rib cage back to remain square.
5. Don't forget your port de bras
Port de bras in an essential part of a beautiful arabesque line and too often forgotten by dancers of all ages. Many dancers are in the habit of lifting the arms and shoulders, which causes the spine to look short and makes the leg look lower in comparison. Instead, the dancer should keep the arms in line with the center of the body and engage the back to push the arms and shoulders down. The dancer should be able to lift the chest and chin enough to look out over the finger tips.
Team BoPPA x
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