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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Muscles used in arabesque


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I'm not sure if I am using proper technique, but it seems like it is 10 times easier to lift and hold an arabesque when using developpe than it is to go straight to the arabesque, like in pique arabesque. It feels like I am trying to lift my leg with my hamstring when doing pique arabesque which seems to make turn-out more difficult as well as extension. My teacher once noted when correcting my arabesque that I was pushing down on his hand instead of lifting up, but he didn't say how one goes about lifting up. Does the impetus for raising your leg come mainly from the hip and back? Is it hard in pique arabesque because your foot is farther from your body than in developpe? My teacher is always talking about having square shoulders and hips. How can you have square hips if one of them is opened up?

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How is your extension when you do a Russian-style battement lent, that is a slow lift of the leg along the track of a grand battement, but sllloooww? You cannot keep the hips perfectly square in any extension to the back, because there's anatomy back there that has to get out of the way to make the leg able to extend. You have to keep the hip controlled, but it does open slightly to accommodate the extension. It can't splay wide open, but it has to maneuver to get your gluteals out of the way.

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It should not be any more difficult in a piqué arabesque than in a developpé. The same muscles are working no matter how one gets there. Yes, the hip must OPEN SLIGHTLY, but not LIFT. There is a difference. And the shoulders and the rib cage do not open. You move your weight forward as the leg lifts. The muscles involved are just about everyone you have in your body! :o

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It should not be any more difficult in a piqué arabesque than in a developpé.
I slightly disagree on this, although I realise that 'should' is not necessarily a fact. :P


I also find developpé always easier than a slow battement (or fast, but slow is definitely more difficult than a quick battement, as you don't have the impetus and I would imagine also easier than a piqué arabesque, where the leg is slower than a grand battement, to allow for control at the height of the demi-pointe).


The reason I find it simple: the muscle/hamstring used to develop the leg gets into action only at the 'peak' of the movement (when the leg is almost straight, so when the developpé is finished), whereas when you lift the leg from the floor, the muscle gets into action the second the leg lifts off the floor (very early on in the movement).

So, the slow battement requires more strength than the developpé. While you will be able for eg, to have a decent height in a developpé, you may not reach the same height in a battement lent (slow).


With the impetus of a grand battement for eg, this may not be so (it may in fact go higher than in the developpé :D ) and it is helped tremendously by the pressure/brushing off the floor too.


The work of the hip (whether or not it opens slightly in arabesque) has almost no incidence on how high the leg can go. Try it at the front for eg, where the hip work similarly in developpé or battement: this will still be easier in a grand battement than a battement lent. The reason is therefore not linked to how much you open your hips or how much you need to 'move your weight forward' as in arabesque, but due to the amount of strength needed to lift the leg (so it is muscle associated, not rotation/posture, although of course, that is important too)

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I don't happen to agree about the hip, but we can agree to disagree, eh?


The battement lent, besides being a choreograpic device, can be a useful diagnostic tool in class for the teacher to find out where the student's placement and alignment are in situations with the leg extended. It's not the only thing it's good for, but it sure can show you that! :D

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Well, yes, I agree with you on this... I don't think I've explained correctly


The work of the hip has almost no incidence on how high the leg can go

Of course it has. :shrug: I mean that if you are able to developpé the leg at 120 degrees, then in battement lent, it may not reach this height, and in this case, this will not necessarily have to do with the hip.


But of course, it IS a useful exercise. :angry:

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Quite correct, I think we're on track there. I was only thinking in terms of the arabesque, where the hip does have to open a bit and at the same time the body has to be lifted out of the supporting hip in order to gain maximum freedom of movement.

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