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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Arabesque fix


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I have an issue with my arabesque sometimes, and it might be helpful to know what I need to do to isolate or work the correct muscles to fix this problem. I sometimes don't notice that when I am in arabesque (right leg working usually), that my knee is ever so slightly bent! I don't feel this bend until I see it in the mirror, and then I really have to consciously focus on getting the leg straight instead of being able to rely on it being straight naturally and being able to focus on whatever else I am doing (thinking about the rest of the combination or body for instance). The problem is, I can fix it if or when I see it, but I can't even feel it! I'm oblivious until I see the ugly line and go, "Oh dang! I gotta straighten my leg!"


This isn't as common with my left leg working, so I suspect perhaps I have one sided issues with weaker quads on my right side? What can I do to fix this as it isn't really an issue on my left side and I am unaware of it until I actually see it in the mirror.

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Do you have hyperextended ("swayback") knees? It is common to find it difficult to feel whether one's leg is straight or not when it is en l'air if you have hyperextension in the knees. I have this problem, but usually only in my left leg (like you, I'm not sure why more in one leg). I have started to overcome this by keeping it in mind every single time I extend my left leg behind me. It's not an easy one to fix and very frustrating, so I feel your pain!

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Oh my goodness, I wish I had hyperextended knees! No, if anything my knees are quite knobby and tend to stick out anyway, so if they're even slightly bent they're extremely noticeable. When straight they already look less than ideal.

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I have the same issue! I tend to ever So slightly bend my leg.

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Our body types aren't so different either. :)

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I have a few ideas that might help:

Rotation- The more rotated the leg the better the line


Energy- Sometimes we think our leg is straight if we "tighten" it. Try instead to lengthen it. Start by facing the barre and perform a degage derriere. Now flex your foot. Concentrate on keeping your rectangle (shoulders, ribcage, hips) as square to the wall as possible. Concentrate on rotation. Send energy out through your heel as you lift your ribcage in a level manner off of your hips. Raise the leg to arabesque keeping your foot flexed. Keep lengthening all the way through the back of your leg down through your heel. Now pointe your foot, maintaining that muscular sensation.


Once you are able to identify the muscular sensation of lengthening through a flexed foot, try finding it when you perform devellopé derriere. Then grand battement and piqué arabesque.


Breath- Close your eyes and breathe while still lengthening


Movement- Keep lengthening up through your level torso out through the leg, down through the floor, out through the port de bras! An arabesque should not be static.

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Ms. Clara,


Your explanation above is really helpful with your break-down into various elements! I especially like the section you show as Energy, and your point about an arabesque (so much associated with the working leg) being part of a whole-body movement including arms and breath, also - not merely a static "position" or pose... Well-said -- Thank you!

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degage then flex your foot... all I can say is, "Ooh. That's a different feeling." It'll take a bit of practice, but I like the way it looks, and the feeling is new (but easier to identify since it's a pulling sort of feeling whereas I am just tightening). Thank you! I'll work on this a bit and hopefully it fixes my right side and prettifies my left side.

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Wonderful thread.


Once again, I find myself wishing I could do Class with Clara.

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Aw!!!! Class with Clara. I like that!!!! :wub:

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Clara's description is of course spot on.


I just wanted to add that it takes constant dilligence.


One of the most common phrases you'll hear from me in class is: "If you think your leg is straight, what do you do?" and they reply "Make it straighter."

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It does take constant diligence. I take a lovely advanced beginner class at Broadway dance center in NYC. I have enormous respect for the teacher. The class meets three times a week ( I go once a week) and the teacher's other classes are at a much higher level.


There was a student with a question about arabesque. She asked her question.

The teacher replied:'Do you dance every day?'

The student said: "no"

The teacher shrugged and walked away.


This may be harsh, and I definitely would not have handled it that way, but Ballet is NOT NATURAL, and if we are going to make about bodies conform to this esthetic, we really have to work daily. I try to encourage my "twice a week, recreational adults" to try to find some time at home and work daily on these positions.

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