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arabesque problems


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I am wondering about the arabesque. I know I've gained quite a bit of weight since I danced before college, but I remember this being a problem then as well. I cannot do an arabesque or any thing with a raised leg to the back without the pinching in my back. I can barely even get my leg off the ground in the back. It's almost as if the muscles/fat/whatever back there are just plain in the way. Is this just an illusion that can be worked on through strength and flexibility? Or is this something that is physically in my way and I won't ever be able to get my leg up?

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When you say "pinching", do you mean that it hurts, or just that it feels like you have something in your way? If it hurts, I'll leave that for a teacher to address. If you just have your back in the way, are you perhaps not allowing your body to tilt forward when you lift the leg? It's just about impossible to have a high arabesque with the back held perfectly straight ,or worse, if your weight is back toward your heels. It's a lot of strain on the lower back as well. You need to go forward when you lift the leg to the back. What does your teacher suggest?

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It can feel like there's something 'in the way' when the problem is really that your hip flexors are tight -- especially the psoas muscle, which is a deep abdominal muscle and hard to feel because the hip flexors have to release for your leg to go up to the back, and if the psoas resists you can feel it at the bottom of the rib cage in hte back (that's where it attaches -- it goes down the FRONT of the spine, under hte stomach and intestines, and attaches to the top of your thigh bone -- it'll lift your leg to the front and side, but if you want to lift to the back, it's got to lengthen, not flex.......)


Of course, there could be other problems -- your pelvis could be made so there's very little freedom to the back (worst case).


Pilates exercises are a good way to tone and flex the muscles of the pelvic floor -- which are very important to dancing, but very hard to train...


THere are lots of stretches for hte hip flexors; yoga, also, has a lot that I've found useful. (I mention Yoga since it is so popular right now in most areas -- around here, you could take yoga 6 or 7 ties a day within a mile of my house,)


I wouldn't want to describe the stretches, since you want someone to be watching you do them to make sure you're doing hte right thing, and that you can FEEL that you're doing the right thing. After you know them, you can do them on your own, but you have to do them right; after all, you could be endangering your discs if you do them wrong....

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Elise, we all have something in the way of arabesque......it is called the gluteus maximus! :grinning:


Seriously. It is in the way and lampwick was on the right track about forward, however it's not a "tilt" forward. It's a forward and upward movement of the weight of the body to allow the hip to open a bit and the leg to lift without the derrière being in the way. When you stand on one leg and find your balance point in a tendu, then lifting the leg to the front or side does not require any further adjustment. However, to lift the leg in the back, there is an adjustment of moving the weight further forward. The limit of the height of the leg will then be restricted to the amount of freedom that you have in the back and the hips. If you have a good grand battement to the back, then you should be able to get a decent arabesque. If you are "pinching your back" in arabesque, you are probably doing the same thing in grand battement, which not only stops the leg from lifting but puts an enormous amount of strain in the lower back. You must lengthen the back by moving in the OPPOSITE direction from the leg. If you try to remain totally straight and upright while doing this, it won't work, no matter what your weight or where the weight is located.

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Yeah, I am talking about things in the way, not pain. So your tips are helpful. I will have to get on a better stretching routine. Good thing new year's is on its way!

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It's easier to feel that 'up and over' movement in the whole torso when someone holds your leg in arabesque for you (not necessarily high). That way, you can concentrate on feeling the torso properly placed, rather than straining to maintain a decent arabesque (you would need to be able to, but first, you need to understand the good positioning of the body).

You can also do this (if you don't have someone around): Facing the barre - a little further away from it than you would normally, as you will end up almost kissing it :wacko: - and holding it, degagé the leg derrière à terre. Then go really up and over (no flop and certainly no pinching!!) in a backward cambré (again, not too far back, you should still be able to lift the leg a little bit off the floor) and now, lift the leg, as well as lifting the whole body in a vertical position. Ideally, the leg should lead and the body follows, but really, not one is going to truly go first (don't end up vertical in the torso, and the leg at 10 degrees for eg :lol: , unless that's your max arabesque height)... Go slowly and do that again and again, until you're comfortable with the height, the positioning of the whole body, and lifting the leg and developpé back without first the need to do the cambré.

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I remember complaining along those lines once after class to Basil Thompson... he had me do a port de bras back in tendu back... claimed that if there was no problem in the port de bras, then there shouldn't be anything "in the way" in the arabesque... Do you have trouble in port de bras back in tendu back?


If not, then in addition to the excellent suggestions above, I recommend, like balletowoman, that old exercize of raising the leg to arabesque from the tendu-port de bras back, starting over whenever you feel your back "ginching" as I believe I've heard it called... sometimes trying to feel the arabesque leg "lengthening" out as you begin to raise it up helps...

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There has alredy been a lot of helpful advice, but I thought I'd add one small bit.


Ms. Leigh and balletowoman advised to think "up and over/forward".


Since you have been dancing before this may sound obvious, but I find that this feeling is much easier to capture if I first check if I'm really using the muscles in my pelvis (This may be the pelvic floor Paul Parish is talking about, or not, my anatomy and English skills fail me here. :( ) and especially the deep abdominals. In me, it feels sort of like there's a gap, a black hole, between my hip sockets and ribcage.



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I'm looking a bit closer at some arabesque and attitude photos and it seems everyone's pelvis is usually more parallel to the floor than I had thought. I think, like some have said, I am trying to keep my back to straight up and down.

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