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Ballet Talk for Dancers

About Arabesques and Square Hips


skyish

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rockymtndancer

While we're talking about leg positions in arabesque, where exactly should the foot be in relation to the hips? I was always taught that the foot of the working leg should line up with the standing heel, but I notice a lot of students that let their leg float outside of the frame of their body in order to get the leg higher. It's rather an ugly position from the back, though it looks fine from the side! It also seems to make it harder to keep the hips and shoulders square, or is that just me?

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Victoria Leigh

The back leg must be in line with the shoulder, which makes it directly behind and not at all out to the side. When it is out to the side it is not an arabesque. While the hips are not exactly square, that does not mean that the leg is not behind the body. If you stand facing the mirror and lift your leg to 90º behind you, you should not see the leg in the mirror.

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rockymtndancer

Thank you, that's what I thought. I just see a lot of people letting their leg float out and are not corrected on it! (Of course you explained it much better than I did.)

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Holly Golightly

Am I right assuming that the squareness is somehow connected with turnout too? I mean - little turnout generally implies more "alabesque" 4th derriere, at least so it seems to me.

 

I have been struggling for a while with turnout because of hip problems, which has also affected my arabesque (very frustrating - I used to have 180° turnout and very flexible legs, and now :angry: ). I have tried making my hips more square by lifting my leg sensibly less, but that doesn't really help, especially when we're talking jumps (I have the same problems in sisonnes, for example, while it is less evident in grade jetes :D ).

 

I suspect my twisting is also due to a shoulder problem I have - but are there exercises I could do to make my hips more square AND making my extensions better? I need to make both things better, but I am not sure what exercises would be more effective.

 

I am also trying to look at my hips in front splits. With no gravity, it should be easier, shouldn't it? Now - I am not sure my hips are correctly placed in the splits: does anyone have pics that show correct/incorrect hip placement in the splits, so that I can know what is reasonable to aim to?

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Victoria Leigh

I think you will find that if the hips are totally square in the split, the back leg is turned in, which is also what happens in arabesque. It is not necessary to move the leg to the side to turn it out, you simply open the hip slightly. Not lift it, open it. Not open the shoulders, just the working hip. It will actually turn out better when correctly behind you.

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I've always been confused by this. When you say "open the hip" not raise the hip, does that mean that the pelvis on the side of the lifted leg is moved to the back? In other words, i know in a tendu, the 'headlights' - the front points of the pelvis - are supposed to be at the same level pointing forward and level horizontally and vertically. When you say don't lift the hip in the arabesque, do you mean these points of the hip should still be level vertically, one not being higher than the other, but when you say "open" the hip slightly, they will still be level vertically, but one will be behind the other horizontally?

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Victoria Leigh

Basically, yes. Most people can't get their leg beyond about 30º, turned out, without some slight opening of the hip. There are some students, those with very little natural rotation, who can't even turn out a tendu with the hips square.

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Holly Golightly
I think you will find that if the hips are totally square in the split, the back leg is turned in, which is also what happens in arabesque. It is not necessary to move the leg to the side to turn it out, you simply open the hip slightly. Not lift it, open it. Not open the shoulders, just the working hip. It will actually turn out better when correctly behind you.

 

ok, this makes it much clearer to me. So, if I'm perfectly "behind" with my leg and the knee is facing the side and not the floor, I shouldn't go nuts trying to keep my hips perfectly square because that is not anatomically possible right? As long as the hips are at the same height as much as possible. What worries me is how much outward rotation of the hips (compared to the torso) is ok, still maintaing the above, and past what degrees it becomes :yes: ).

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Mel Johnson

We can't quantify exactly, because everybody's body is different. Let your teacher be your "eye outside the self". S/he'll notice when the hips are too open.

 

EDITED TO ADD: Ballet is a lot more like architecture than engineering. It's art rather than science.

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