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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Arabesque Lower Arm

Ballet Day

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A recent correction made me wonder about where the back arm for first arabesque should be placed. I've always been putting my lower arm directly to the side, but when I look at some other people with higher extensions in class, most have their arm behind their shoulder and twist their shoulders slightly. When I do this, I can easily get my leg higher, but is this good technique, or should you have your back arabesque arm to the side or slightly in front of your shoulder?

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Ballet Day, the arm is usually taught to be to the side in the early years, to keep the shoulders in place. As one becomes more advanced the arm is moved back, but not directly behind the shoulder! The shoulders are still supposed to remain in place, unless one is doing an arabesque in croisé with épaulement, as in Vaganova 4th arabesque. How far back the arm goes in your basic 1st arabesque will depend on one's ability to take it back and not twist the shoulders. Study some photos in your ballet books! Also look at some videos of professional dancers. You will find that some dancers do open the shoulders is a 1st arabesque, but when they do the line is usually not quite what it should be.

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