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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Arabesque


dancepig

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I read this on another thread (YD), it was written by Major Mel, I thought it was so perfect, I had to share it here. I think this is a wonderful description of getting a good arabesque line. Additionally, I love the part about the original factory-installed seat cushions. Unfortunately my original factory-installed seat cushions are getting old and having been sat on for so long they have increased in their width! :yucky:

 

"having a strong back" is an important part of getting good arabesque line, but it's not the only part. The student needs to be well pulled up in the FRONT of the body, too, in particular, through the lower abdominal muscles. Also the standing leg can't act merely as someplace to put weight. The lift up must come through there, too, especially at the hips. No weight slumping into the supporting hip. Despite the absolute ideal of a completely-squared-off torso in all directions in developpé, it has to unidealize when it comes to arabesque. To the front and to the side, you have a clear path, but to the back, you have the original factory-installed seat cushions, which are in the way. You have to open, ever so slightly, the working hip, so that the leg has somewhere to go.
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I was reading those arabesque threads... I was also thinking of a question as I read them, so Im glad someone mentioned it here... now here is my novel.... :P

 

I have wondered for awhile what it is exactly that makes a beautiful arabesque and I have noticed something... Even among people with backs that are nice and flexible, it seems that the arabesques can look very different. It almost appears as though the "bend" in the back comes in different places on different bodies... in the arabesques I find most beautiful, the arch appears to be very low on the back, near the buttocks, and the upper body appears to be very long and coming straight from this bend. In others, the bend seems to be much higher, closer to the middle of the back, which seems to me to make the upper body above the arch to appear much shorter, and I dont like this look as much. Is this a technique difference, or a difference in body proportion? I know the ideal body would have long legs, and a shorter torso would accompany that, however wouldnt a shorter torso by definition make this shorter arabesque line? I am confusing myself I suppose... :wink:

 

Also, on the topic of strength and flexiblity for arabesque... I am wondering what is the differences in these pictures, strength or flexibility?

 

Pic 1: http://cdn-write.demandstudios.com/upload/.../90/2/46792.jpg

Pic 2: http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/te.../arabesque.jpeg

Pic 3: http://www.rapaweb.com.au/images/studio%20pics%20014.jpg

 

Where if you were to attach a plumb line at the very back of the head, it would come down through the torso.....as compared to...

 

Pic 4: http://home.mindspring.com/~raleighballet/...s_arabesque.jpg

Pic 5: http://images.dancemedia.com/common/conten...71884909d5.jpeg

 

In these pics, if you attached the line to the back of the head, it would drop straight down the back, as the torso is more upright. Is this proportions of the body, flexibility of the back, strength???

 

And the mose extreme illustration of what I mean ... (and I realize that this is probably a battment, not an arabesque) : http://www.pbase.com/belyaevsky/image/90491287

It appears in this last picture that the arch of the back is occuring at 1 place and the rest of the upper body looks so LONG in comparison to the proportions in Pic 5. Is this just a different proportion of torso?

 

Sorry this is so long, Ive been thinking about this for awhile, as there are a couple girls in my school with veeery flexible backs, and thus high arabesques, however the arabesques look soooo different and I only consider one truly beautiful although they are both well-placed, so I have always wondered why this is....

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oh, Major Mel????? Any comments, hmmm????? I'd love to hear your opinion on this, thank you very much!

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As the line model for the arabesque is a spiral, the plumbline model is applicable within a broad range of different styles of arabesque. In most schools, the practical arabesque involves the dancer taking the torso and pulling it up and forward, a diagonal line from a center located roughly at the solar plexus.

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Thank you Major Mel! Now, I have one more question, one of my teachers is older (84), from the "Old School" (I think she literally is from the "Old School"), and she claims the reason you pull the diaphragm forward, from the rib cage, when doing arabesque en arrière, is to give the internal organs room? Particularly the kidneys? This is what she claims, and she's adamant about this. Yes....????

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That, and the range of motion possible with the thoracic vertebrae. Remember, connective tissue constitutes an organ system, too. The ribcage must depend on how the spine bends, and the ribs run from the spine to the sternum in front, so limiting the movement of the chest. Expanding the diagphragm reduces intra-thoracic pressure and makes more room for the lungs to breathe.

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Oh thank you Major Mel! :P I knew you would know the answer. All I know is that it does indeed feel better, but now I know why - thanks again!

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In any arabesque position, although the arch is of significant importance, so is correct placement of the body weight over the leg. In the last picture which was taken at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg(that is Agripinna Vaganova's photo on the wall), the dancer is very much pulled backward off the leg with the pelvis behind the foot of the supporting leg- if she took the hand off the barre, it would be unlikely she could hold that position for very long. The pelvis must be at a 90 degree angle with the floor, directly on top of the working leg. In my opinion, the most correctly placed arabesques in the pictures referenced would be:

 

http://images.dancemedia.com/common/conten...71884909d5.jpeg

and

http://images.dancemedia.com/common/conten...71884909d5.jpeg

and

http://cdn-write.demandstudios.com/upload/.../90/2/46792.jpg

 

In this picture, http://home.mindspring.com/~raleighballet/...s_arabesque.jpg, if the dancer were to retain exactly the same pelvic placement and just lowered her heel, her weight would be back and pull her off balance.

 

PS- because this photo, http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/te.../arabesque.jpeg, is so small, it is hard to tell- she looks rather hyperextended through the knees.

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That last photo is not an arabesque, it is a "secabesque". Her supporting leg is totally cranked out to perfect rotation...IF the body were square front. It's not. It's very slightly croisé, but not really, and the leg is extending outward instead of in back of her shoulder. It is not, IMO, a pretty arabesque.

 

In the first photo the upper body is just a bit too far forward and not enough upward. In the better arabesques, the plum line from the back of the top of the head runs down to the supporting pointe.

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I think we need to add in the concept of line as well. In some of the arabesque photos, there is no sense of shape and geometric line, or energy.

For arabesque, think of a double crossed T. The top horizontal line would be the arms/chest plane, the lower cross being the hip/leg plane.

 

The top line should be lifted and as vertical as possible. The ribcage should not be turned towards the working leg, nor should it be tilted- it should also be on a horizontal pane.....Shoulders and ribcage square.

 

The working hip should not be lifted and opened to audience, but there will be a slight feeling of the working hip being father back than the supporting hip; that is just because anatomically, the buttocks get in the way, so there is a spiral feeling that occurs from the resistance of the balance (the supporting leg's ankle bone should be in a vertical connect-the-dots- line to the working hip bone) or the push down into the floor from the supporting leg against the pull of the working leg, and the lift-off of the upper body, combined with the shoulder and neckline being relaxed and properly placed.

 

I hope this makes sense.... Miss Leigh?? Vrsfanatic?? Mel??? Is this clear as mud????

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It's very clear. :)

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I love the image of the plumb line and the hips being placed over the supporting foot. We are often given strings with things tied to the bottom of them to find our balance in arabesque and passe retire. Though it may seem impractical and painful to be able to have the hips placed exactly above the stationary foot, it makes sense scientifically to have your center of balance placed over the contact point of the floor. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, this will give you unparalleled balance. One of the things that helps me greatly is to remind myself of having my center placed directly on top of the ball of my foot/contact point on the floor, to have everything else stacked on top of that, to "square off" (as so many people call it) with opposite shoulder from the arabesque/working leg opposing, and SO importantly to have the side (literally, your ribs, waist, and side) opposite of the arabesque pulled up and not sinking.

 

One of the most awesome exercises to feel how important the contrasting side is (ribs, lateral abs, hips, and shoulder) and how that entire side affects your balance is this: Starting in 1st arabesque balance on releve, retract slowly into passe (arms come to 1st position) and hold balance in passe, from passe balance continue to attitude en avant arms in 3rd position.. I promise you you'll immediately feel how your other side affects balancing and the small ways to tweak your muscles to be able to do this!

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Thank you for initiating this discussion, dancepig & Sashinka. I have often wondered about these same things and now I have answers! A very informative thread! B)

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