Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pique Arabesque -- A New Challenge


Recommended Posts

A new topic seems needed but to link to the Arabesque fix thread of the other day:




Now that I am getting a better handle on arabesque -- that thread helped -- the far greater challenge for me, is pique arabesque. A pique in various directions, or a step to soussus - not a big problem. Arabesque w/ supporting leg flat on the floor -- have some good information on that and I hope, am on the road to improvement.


Pique arabesque problems for me: Strength both in supporting leg for the relevee and balance, while holding the working leg in the already-challenging arabesque.


I checked GWW's (Gretchen Ward Warren) wonderful reference book. The closest I come to what I am likely to achieve is the "Margot Fonteyn line" pique arabesque with about a 45 degree working leg and a more than is usually seen in this move, upright upper body.


The thing I can't and don't think I would be able to execute -- though I can keep trying of course -- is about a 90 degree high working leg and well held up, upper body. Besides the flexibility and strength and particular attention to back muscles needed, along the lines of what Ms. Clara talked about in the recent Arabesque fix thread, and others commented on with good information, too are there some pointers to try specifically in regard to the arabesque? Is a lower arabesque for most dancers -- not the most spectacular, professional, etc -- the norm?


That is a big part of my question what is normally achievable for recreational adult ballet students? (from non-pro dancers in the classes i take 45 degrees is about the highest even thinkable, a pique arabesque) -- and that, if kept in proper alignment and all the rest -- arms done correctly, etc. is plenty challenging just in that!


To recap -- it is the arabesque of the pique arabesque that I am especially wondering how to achieve --- keeping it 45 degrees/low so that my leg can manage it while being on relevee, too? Leaning more forward on the relvee/supporting leg so the arabesque leg can go a bit higher? But that throws off my balance and can't really keep balance if I do lean more forward -- OR is that in fact the idea and you do have to lean forward while held up though to allow the arabesque leg to go up, trying for about 90'ish degrees?


Would appreciate some help -- :nixweiss::nixweiss: Thanks!


Link to comment
Guest Pas de Quoi

Kind of a confusing post - but I'll try - it has been my experience that if a dancer does not take a big enough step forward, achieving a complete transfer of weight, then the arabesque leg will not be as high as it could be, because the pelvis is not far enough forward to allow the leg to reach a height of 90 degrees or so. I teach many recreational dancers who have no problem getting to this height. Try working on the temps lie forward to tendu derriere and then lifting the leg first to attitude derriere to determine if you are achieving a complete transfer of weight. If you are successful, try again executing the temps lie forward to tendu derriere, but this time, lifting the leg to arabesque instead of attitude. I will try to find a link to help better explain this.


Here is a link on arabesques. This first one is a developpé and the second one is a temps lié to arabesque.

Link to comment

Hi Pas de Quoi,


I want to try what you suggest! I will read your comments more carefully and think about the transfer of weight. Thanks too, for the link! That really helps to see what you are explaining.


It starts me thinking too, to start solving the problem by first addressing the problem I have with doing an arabesque on relevee. (supporting leg on relevee; arabesque/working leg lifted, of course, to the back). I may be placing my weight on the supporting leg for the arabesque not quite right (I feel a little "tippy" on the supporting leg, to and fro just a bit). I also find lifting the arabesque/working leg more difficult if the supporting leg is on relevee, than if it is flat on the floor.


Once I do a better arabesque on relevee, then pique-ing to it, or reaching an arabesque from another position, should be able to improve. Thanks, this gets it started! I could go through my post and try to explain better -- I see that would be good as well. Thanks again --

Link to comment

Also, it may just be a poor choice of words, but you don't actually want to think of "leaning forward" in your arabesque. The most important part of balancing in an arabesque on demi-pointe is to make sure your pelvis is aligned over your supporting leg - this will be a slightly different position to being on a flat foot, and your base for balancing has been reduced in size and has shifted forwards slightly. Rather than thinking of 'leaning forward' think of placing your pelvis forwards over the supporting leg and keeping your back lifted - don't worry too much about the back leg to start with until you find your balance spot :)

Link to comment

Miss P -- Excellent! Yes! This is exactly what I was trying (not too successfully) to describe! Thanks for clarifying the terminology. These concepts - pelvis forward over the supporting leg rather than 'leaning forward'; proper placement of pelvis over the supporting leg! I see right away these make sense!


Any thoughts about stepping to pique arabesque? To be smooth, I will work on the arabesque on demi-pointe (sur place, or at the barre) first, but if something comes to mind for smoothly executing pique arabesque, or moving into an arabesque on demi-pointe in a combination or in center, would love to hear it.



Thanks so much. (----|_______

| \ Trying to make an arabesque icon! :flowers:



Link to comment


You might want to try using the arms to "press down" as if they were pressing on an imaginary barre. Lets say that you are going to pique arabesque in First arabesque. The upstage arm, which is forward, will press down as if there were a barre in front of you, and the downstage arm which is to the side (or angled back...depending on the style/teacher) will press down as well...on an imaginary barre. Use this downward pressure of the arms to help lift the body and support the position. It is just an image, but I find it helps with the balance, and keeping the upper body lifted.


Just a thought.

Link to comment

It seems to be common for people to step onto piqué arabesque from a too-high degagé devant. If the leg you are stepping onto (the one that will be the supporting leg) is extended too high in front of you, your body weight will likely be too far back when you transfer your weight onto it. Instead, try keeping your degagé low and think more about gliding along the floor as you push off with the back leg (the one that will be the working leg/extended in arabesque).

Link to comment
Guest Pas de Quoi

Along this line of thinking is a suggestion Finis Jhung makes in his teaching and that is to think not of stepping up to piqué, but to imagine stepping down (like taking a step down a flight of stairs). You can try facing a barre and stepping to piqué on relevé with the support of the barre. That way, you can "fine tune" your placement with the aid of the barre. I have my students do this quite frequently.

Link to comment

I never really thought about the height of my arabesque in pique, because for myself, it seemed natural that whatever height my arabesque was working at the barre or any other exercise is the height it would be in pique. It just comes up naturally since it's been practiced at that height for every exercise. However, what other posters have mentioned is the upper body and the weight placement, which does NOT come naturally in a pique arabesque.


I think, from observing other students, that if you normally always have a 90º arabesque but it fails to arrive during pique arabesque, it is more of a compensation and fear issue. Your body and brain can feel that if the weight transfer and upper body placement does not happen immediately, then mentally and physically, your leg is not going to rise as high as it could because you are naturally afraid of falling or (to be less extreme) not balancing.


Grab your waist with both hands and give your waist a squeeze so that your index finger knuckles are digging under your ribcage bones. Now, lift with your hands as if you were trying to separate your ribcage from your pelvis. This is the feeling you should have when doing pique arabesque... an actual physical "lifting" of the upperbody area and "placing" on top of your metatarsals/over the ball of your feet towards your first 3 toes. It cannot be simply your chest, but the abdominal/ribcage area must be over those toes too and the shoulder opposite of your arabesque MUST be back. You'll feel so secure that when your working leg shoots up, you'll wonder why you weren't always working 90! (I exaggerate)


Your leg is like a rudder or a cat tail - it's going to compensate for your balance if your body thinks you're going to fall. If you're on your balance, the leg is more free to be where it needs to be. Remember, the entire upper body must be over your elevé. A common mistake is that the piqué happens, the working leg goes up, and then the dancer's back arches, meanwhile only the shoulders are anywhere near above the ball of the foot and the rest of the body is dipped/curved towards the back. No balance, no height, no security.


For height, just try taking a wide step forward on turned out flat and bring up your arabesque to 90 at the same time, (not a piqué, but like a step developpé). This will assist you in getting your leg higher, while keeping the opposite shoulder back and practicing that "press" another poster mentioned. Hold that position for 3 seconds and observe where your upper body is (if it's not over your foot, you won't be able to hold it for 3 seconds, trust me lol). When you're ready, try it with a piqué onto your demi - there will need to be a slightly more drastic adjustment to move that torso up and over the ball of your foot. Once you have that feeling, it'll be such an "AHA!" moment, you'll be able to identify it and fix it when you don't have it.

Link to comment

Here's another helpful trick that one of my teachers from the Kirov/Mariinsky taught me. Get your xiphoid process bone over your pointe or the ball of you foot in piqué, get the opposite shoulder back. That's the simplest way of condensing that epic ramble I just typed previously. :angelnot:


Here's a diagram so you can find that teeny-tiny bone that is the xiphoid process


Link to comment

To: Willimus, gav, Pas de Quoi, LaFilleSylphide -- and Miss Persistent, too,


I am completely and utterly blown away by your fantastic and earth-shaking (no word can express my absolute awe) explanations -- Each is an amazing revelation! Each addresses the root causes of my problems.


I have wanted to ask about pique arabesque for a long time. It has eluded me. I knew I wanted to tackle it -- just was not sure when or if I ever could. Hallelujah! Gratitude and joy!


Now my work begins. I want to read your comments several times, carefully and work through each element. Each of you has a different point to make and all together they are just tremendous! Thank you does not say enough. I know this may sound just too silly and weird..... But I mean it. I am simply going to pieces at how knowledgeable, skillful and generous everyone here is!

:wub::):wub::excl::D Oh, I may have some follow-up questions, from there, but I want to try all you've pointed out first of all, and really give lots of thought to the anatomy, the aesthetics and 'ballet theory' of this -- for me -- very complex move! :party:

Link to comment

My teacher often tells us to let our body lead and let it go "forward" (I think mainly referring to the pelvis as some users have already pointed out) as it naturally does when doing that step. We then need to add the "upward" force to it, to direct the movement and also restrict the "forward" movement to not go too far. It helped me a lot to hold a balance in piqué arabesque and also to reach the position more smoothly. More consciously using your fondu/plié from the preparation can also help.

Link to comment

Thanks Moonlily!


Today I'm working on a drill/exercise across the floor that I'll call the Pique Arabesque Walk: Starting w/ the right foot (moving to the right) doing a low developee forward, step on that to a pique arabesque (first arabesque). Hold one count. Plie, down. Continue this series, alternating right and left, so, low developee forward w/ left leg, step on it pique arabesque. Hold. Plie -- and so on across the floor.


I'm seeing how the adjustment goes to or from an arabesque with supporting foot flat on the floor to one on demi-pointe. Will take practice but really makes sense now with all of your help. After this drill becomes better I want to balance longer -- about 3 seconds as was said, on demi-pointe in arabesque.... and see in class if I move into and out of pique arabesque more smoothly and improve my execution of it. Arabesque leg higher, and weight/allignment, pelvis, shoulders, arms and head much improved, I hope... :rolleyes:

Link to comment

Instead of doing a plié down, why don't you try to stay on that straight supporting leg, and lower the working leg into a tendu derriere before closing? It'll help you keep or attain that lifted feeling of your torso/upperbody being in the correct place with less thought. If you plié on descent, staying lifted is just one more thing to think about as it is so easy to "let go" of your body... especially since you're being so focused and conscious of all the other mechanisms during this exercise.


Try this 1.) from fifth, plié with a small, simultaneous developpé, brushing through surlecoudepied conditional, gesture your right leg forward heel first no more than 45, consciously think of going forward with your entire upperbody,


2.) once you step onto your turned out right foot (try to step slightly past where your toe would normally touch down), and immediately arabesque, LIFTING the entire upper body, pelvis and all, so that it is placed perpendicular to the floor, not leaning backwards. If these symbols were your leg, think "T" not "--\". Your supporting leg needs to be 90º with the floor, straight up and down, perpendicular. Check the mirror, if there's a slant and your leg looks like this \ then the torso lift we've been discussing won't happen, it'll be a torso dip or a butt push backwards. :yucky:

3.) When you cannot hold it, stay up-up with your body, keep lifted, and simply place your working leg down into tendu. Check yourself out in the mirror - you should have a beautiful first arabesque line a terre still, and if you're wobbling, then you know you need more work on upper body adjustment and supporting leg still, but at least you're conscious of it!

4.) Close that left foot into fifth, plié and repeat. Of course, this time, since you foot is in the back, when you developpé, it'll come through surlecoudepied instead of conditional. Remember to be conscious of your left shoulder when you switch. Don't let it come forward.

Link to comment

Thank you LaFilleSylphide!


This will be great to work on, and thank you for explaining what to be aware of and check, in each element of the exercise. I'm going to go through this very carefully and practice each part of the whole.


In part 4) ......coming "through sur le coup de pied instead of condiitonal." What does conditional refer to - is that a version of developee? Or perhaps I did not understand something above that? Thanks again,

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.

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...