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Arabesque/Upper Back help

Guest devion101

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Guest devion101


I have a very nice arabesque, 90 degrees and above, but in the mirror, I'm noticing that my upper back isn't as 'up' as I would like. Maybe I'm just being hypercritical of myself, but I don't know. I've been doing back exercises to strengthen my lower back for penchees and the like, and it's helping a little, but can you give me some tips for keeping my upper body more upright in arabesque? Also, do people with shorter torsos and long legs have problems with this? That's the body type I have, so just wondering. With me it's like 'hello legs!', haha. Thanks!



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In order to give you an answer that could specifically address your arabesque I would have to see you but I will try to give you some food for thought that may help you to approach your work with a new idea or two!


Begin facing the barre, going back to basics! Make sure your hands are in front of your shoulders, lightly caressing the barre with your "pillows" (basically where the fleshy part of your palm joins your fingers), wrists softly lowered down, in a parallel line with the softly lowered down elbow. The elbows should be forward of the waistline, not next to the body. Lowered down shoulder and hip line are square to the barre, feet in fifth right foot back. Body and legs drawn upwards.


Releve lent backward following the rules of battement tendu to open from 5th position. Raise the working leg from the floor lifting the pinky toe directly behind your supporting heel maintaining that line as the leg raises to 90 degrees. Of course the leg is fully stretching and reaching back behind you to make the longest line of the entire leg and foot. As you raise the leg the body must incline somewhat forward, shoulders remaining square to the barre and parallel to the floor (level). Special attention must be given to the supporting side of the body so as not to disrupt the level hips and shoulders. As the working leg lifts, lightly lengthen the supporting side, leg, waistline, and under the arm so as not to sit. The feeling of opposition in the supporting shoulder to the working hip is very important. The major point of strength is in the middle of the lower back.



When lowering the leg downward, the movement begins with the body lifting upward into the line of fifth position as the leg begins lengthening outward. The heel (do not unpoint the toes however) then lowers creating an arcing motion. Continue lowering the thigh, passing tendu closing to 5th position back.


This is done as a non-stopping flowing movement not emphasising musically the battement tendu, instead passing through it into the various stages of height (25, 45 to 90 and above). When the leg is at its highest, suspend! Do not pull the head and neck back. The neck and head must also involved in the upward and forward motion. The chest opens and by this I mean at the shoulder line and the area above your diaphram, not your ribs! Do not try to keep your hips square to the floor, see the discussion is this forum regarding this issue. Not only will you not get your leg up you will never develop the flexibility and strength of your upper back.


Musical accompaniment should be: 2 measures 4/4 SLOW or 8 measures 3/4 (waltz in character), Repeat the movement in direction back up to 4 times. Rest. Change legs.


Once this is understood facing the barre you are ready to do it with only one hand on the barre. Basically the execution is the same with one hand on the barre, working arm is opened prior to beginning to 2nd position, head turned over the hand in 2nd position. Make sure you do have the supporting hand placed correctly in front of the supporting waistline with the pillows caressing (again and always), elbow softly lowered down as described priviously. Here is where it can become tougher. Do not allow your supporting hand to glide, slide or move forward as you raise the leg. This is the key to developing the upper back flexibility and strength in the movement. Essentially you want to develop the same flexibility and strength you have in bending backwards while standing one two feet in your arabesque. I do recognize that many schools of thought ask you to slide, glide or move the supporting hand on the barre as you lift your leg. In the Vaganova method this is a very important aspect of the training of arabesque...not to move the supporting hand forward on the barre.


So there you have it! There are exercises you can do also to strengthen the area, but without this basic understanding of arabesque one may create a line but not the strength required in more difficult advanced work. :)

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Guest devion101

Thanks so much! The advice is awesome. I am definitely trying that today in class!!! :flowers: . I tried it just now and really felt a difference already, so once again, thanks very much!



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