Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Arabesque Penchée


DaPixie

Recommended Posts

I am trying to figure out how to do arabesques penchées. I just can't penché. My arabesques aren't too bad, though they are not high (definitely under 90°). My extensions devant and à la seconde are a bit better. I am able to stretch into the front splits pretty well and easily now and I can cambré pretty far back all while remaining properly aligned. And in conditioning class, whenever we lie face-down and lift our torsos, I'm usually the one able to lift the highest and hold it the longest without any problem.

 

So somehow you'd think strength and flexibility are not an issue, but I wonder what it is that I am doing wrong or not doing that prevents me from doing an arabesque penché. I have no pain in my back or problem lifting my working leg into an arabesque.

What seems to stop me from being able to lift my leg high or go down in penché (if I try to keep my hips square) is my complete inability to stretch the hamstrings of my supporting leg. It feels so stiff and painful I can't bend forwards at all. This is so weird because as I said, else I am pretty flexible. How come I can go down into the front splits and lie flat on my front leg and almost fall asleep in that position, but I can't go from arabesque to arabesque penchée at all?

Link to comment
  • Administrators

If you are trying to keep your hips square, that would be the primary reason for a lack of height in arabesque and in your penché. Since your back is flexible, your leg should be higher if you are allowing the working hip to open slightly. Not the shoulders, they must stay square, but hip needs to open to allow the leg to rotate as well as to lift. The abs, and the quads of the standing leg, must work hard in penché for stability, and don't allow the standing leg to push back. Keep your weight more forward. There should be an equal and opposite reaction from the front arm to the back leg to maintain the line.

Link to comment

Ms Leigh I was very pleased to read your instruction to open the working hip slightly in arabesque, because I often get students trying desperately to keep square in arabesque, with the result that their working leg is low and turned in. When I tell them to open out a bit they look so shocked at the idea of not keeping completely square, that I feel guilty for telling them to do otherwise!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Hamorah, I really can't believe that there are still teachers doing that, but I see it too. Basically, it's physiologically impossible to lift it about a very low level, much less to have it rotated. The glute is in the way! :wink:

Link to comment

Okay, I tried that after class last night. If I open my hips a bit I can lift my leg higher, but somehow I still can't penché. The hamstings of my supporting leg feel so stiff they just won't stretch. If anyone were to push my leg into a higher penché I feel like my hamstrings in my supporting leg would just give out. That's how tight it feels.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

I don't understand the hamstring problem in the supporting leg on a penché unless you are really pushing back into that leg.

Link to comment

How is your flexibility devant usually? How do you feel in the splits?

 

Are you sure you are keeping your weight forward?

Link to comment

When Ms. Leigh is talking about pushing backward on the leg, the easiest visual illustration I can think of for you is this: Is your supporting leg perpendicular/90 degrees from the floor? Look at yourself in the mirror when you penchee. Is your standing/supporting leg straight up and down? That is ideal. If your standing leg looks diagonal, with your hips farther back, then you might be putting undue pressure on your hamstrings (and knees!!!).

 

Desirable: --|

Not desirable: --\

Make sense?

Link to comment

I guess I need to look in the mirror in class today.

My hamstrings are okay when I go down in the splits and I can lie flat on my front leg. But flexing my front foot while stretched in the splits - I can't.

Link to comment

Ok, I just tried while waiting for my salad wrap at the salad bar and attempted to do an arabesque penchée. I can on demi pointe, but on a flat foot. But there is no mirror in the salad bar and people are looking at me funny, so I think I'll wait until I am back at my school to try more.

Link to comment

Yeah, ballet in a salad bar not cool. Also, I'm not sure what the application of lying flat on your front leg in a split is. I don't think it's useful. If anything, you should be concentrating on keeping your torso straight up with a nice long back and long neck, shoulders down, arms in 2nd or 3rd if you are using splits as a means to connect stretching to pencheé. Also, it's much more effective if your torso is not just straight up, but the shoulder opposite your back leg pushing slightly back, creating opposition between the shoulder and the back leg thus making you more squared in the shoulders. If your right leg is behind you, think about keeping your left shoulder squared, vice versa.

 

Think about it, in pencheé, you wouldn't ever just drop your body so that your torso is lying flat against your standing leg. If you're using the split to aid pencheé, then you shouldn't drop your body flat against your leg either... it doesn't make sense. I mean, I guess Balanchine had that choreographed into a a few of his works, but it seemed to be a flair of artistic choice on his part.

Link to comment
Guest Pas de Quoi

Have you tried doing your penchee facing the barre (for this to work, you need to have two levels of barre - one about 18 inches lower than the other), with both hands on the barre (to make sure shoulders are square and you can work on laterally rotating the arabesque working leg)? You will want to be sure you are far enough away from the barre so that you can stretch your back fully as you descend into the penchee. You start with your hands on the top barre, and as you descend into the penchee, you move your hands to the lower barre. If a dancer is lacking strength and/or sufficient lateral rotation in the working leg, the hamstrings of the supporting leg may feel tight as they are working very hard to "lift" the leg. The more the working leg does the lifting, the easier the job of the supporting leg becomes.

 

Something that really helped me was imagining that I was placing my hand in the hand of a partner who kept backing away from me, thus encouraging me to actively "reach" farther out and therefore down as I was executing the arabesque penchee. Again, encouraging work with the back muscles and the arabesque leg as opposed to primarily concentrating on the work of the supporting leg.

Link to comment

Yesterday I asked my teacher about my inability to penché and he did look at me trying and seemed just as puzzled as I was as to why I feel such a strain in my supporting leg's hamstrings when I try to penché. I don't sit back on my supporting leg.

The strain is there whether I am or turned out or turned in (we do penchés in parallel in conditioning class or sometimes when I go to Pilates or Yoga classes elsewhere). It just doesn't seem to work for me.

 

I really don't get it. If I am able to lift my leg into an arabesque, I am able to do a foward port de bras while standing in first or fifth and really 'hang' all the way down, and I am able to stretch down into front splits (and now I can even easily roll through my centre splits) without feeling any painful stretch in my hamstrings, I really should be able to go from arabesque to penché. :nixweiss:

Link to comment
Guest Pas de Quoi

One would certainly think so, DaPixie. Very strange. I have another suggestion for you - This exercise is a bit hard to explain (I'd love to have access to a video of it) but I'll try. Stand facing the barre in a modified 1st position. Bring one leg to pirouette position and then extend that leg back to attitude derriere. Start to penché from that position - keep going down in your penché and at the same time place the hand on the side of the supporting leg on the floor. Keep the other hand on the barre. Straighten the working leg from attitude to arabesque. Now here's the interesting part. Rotate your body from arabesque to a la seconde (your would turn your upper body from facing your supporting leg to having your side to your supporting leg) while keeping both hands where they are. Move the supporting foot to a position that feels comfortable. Keep reaching the working leg towards the ceiling. From this open position, rotate your body back to the arabesque position, all the while reaching the working leg towards the celing. Again, move the foot of the supporting leg to a comfortable and stable position. Put the hand that was on the floor back on the barre and slowly lift the upper body to a more upright position, all the while trying to keep the working leg reaching towards the ceiling and making sure the shoulders are again squared to the barre.

 

I know it's hard to imagine with just words. You could think of switching from arabesque to developé in écarté while being upside down. :)

Link to comment

Any chance you can get a picture for us, DaPixie? It might be helpful, and if you do, get a pic barefoot- no ballet slippers- just roll your tights up to your ankles.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...