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Arabesque turns


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Does anyone have any tips on doing these?

My problem is that when I start to turn, I feel that my supporting leg is turned in. Its kind of like trying to get the impetus to turn round is too much and I need that extra twist from my supporting leg to get going. Also, my back leg is not very high at all. I'm guessing it should be at 90degrees.

Now if I talk you through how I do my turns then maybe you can spot what I'm doing wrong or missing out.

I start from an open fourth. Front leg in fondu, back leg straight. I have my arms in first arabesque. I rélévé and turn round. Normally I keep my arm in line i.e. as it was before I left for the jump, and I follow it round, rather than spotting, with my head and I am looking just over the hand (My arm is just below shoulder level). My back is straight but forward, so my balance is slightly over my supporting leg.

The problem is when I initiate the rélévéand go to turn I feel that my supporting leg isn't turning with me, and 2 that I can't seem to get the momentum to stay up, so I kind of collapse down at the end of the turn, rather than having the feeling that I could stay up forever.


So what am I doing wrong? apart from everything probably. I think the problem lies with the initiation of the turn.





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oooohhhh... I can't wait to read others' suggestions on this one.


I also have problems with arabesque turns. I have the same problem with not feeling like I've got enough momentum and I usually end up sort of hopping at the end to get myself to finish the turn. One thing that does seem to help for me - as I'm coming around to finish the turn if I tell myself to "crank the arabesque" --and before anyone winces or says "don't do that!", rest assured I don't really crank it out in an unhealthy way-- It's just my way of reminding myself to push the leg just a little high if I can, and keep the back up as much as possible. That seems to help me not collapse.


As far as not letting the supporting leg turn in, I could use tips on that too :) .

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  • Administrators

Xena, you said that your front arm is in first arabesque in the preparatory position. It's very hard to get any momentum from the back muscles from that position. Place the arms in a regular en dedans pirouette preparatory position, with the front arm rounded, as in first position of the arms (5th en avant in Cecchetti).


When you push into the plié on the front leg just before the relevé think of leading that leg from the heel, get high on the relevé, and try to feel that the whole leg is swiveling around on the metatarsal or the pointe, if you are en pointe. (It's actually a LOT easier to do this pirouette in pointe shoes!)


I would also suggest that you lift the front arm a bit higher in the arabesque position during the turn. This will help you to keep lifting everything in order to stay up at the end. Lifting the leg towards the end of the turn, as Boots said, is also helpful.

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Guest dancerwannabe

Oh my gosh this is so way out of my league!! I can honestly say that I've never tried to do this. I'm just happy I finished a single pirouette. Ha! best of luck to ya!:)

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ohhh ok with the arm bit..You know I swore I had tit rounded, but when I just tried it, I found that it wasn't quite the position you stated or even a first arabesque. So how high can I lift my arm and what should be the ideal level?

So is it just the momentum caused by turning the arm from rounded 5th en avant to first arabesque that gives you the lift and ability to turn?

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No, momentum should not come from the arm. It comes from the torso, specifically the upper back. The movement of the arms is a result of the right-to go-left-to go-right, or, left-to go-right-to go-left movement of the torso. The arm should start in the same position as if you were going into a regular en dedans pirouette. Having it rounded help it USE the momentum generated by the torso.


How high the arm can go depends on the teacher and what they will allow ;) I would lift it well above shoulder level.

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OK thanks Ms Leigh, I will try those things out. Maybe that is where I am going wrong..using my arm as momentum rather than my upper body..makes sense.



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The movement of the arms is a result of the right-to go-left-to go-right, left-to go-right-to go left movement of the torso.


Hmmm... I was following everything up until this. I understand that the momentum for turns comes from the torso and back, but I just can't figure out exactly what you're refering to here with the right-to go left-to go-right bit. Do you mean the series of preparatory positions that one goes through to execute the turn? Or something else? Could you elaborate Ms. Leigh?



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I'm obviously not Ms. Leigh, but what she refers to is the relationship of the front to the side arm, which in preparation for an en dedans pirouette of most sorts has the arm to seconde to the right to make a left turn and to the left if the turn is to the right. It's the "dog" part of the "cat-dog" metaphor I sometimes use in teaching en dedans turns to small folk. "Here goes the cat - and here comes the dog right after her!";) It's not what gives you the turn, for if you get too carried away with the arms, they will knock you off balance!:)

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Actually the right-to go-left or left-to go-right movement is in the torso, not the arms. It's more of a "feeling" than an actual movement, although there is a very minimal, almost invisible movement there. This is one of those things that is very easy to show and almost impossible to explain :) It has to do with the principals of circular motion. Try thinking of the string that is around a top that you want to spin. It is wrapped around to the left but when you pull it, it turns to the right, or vice-versa. When this principal is exaggerated it creates a "wind up" effect, which is NOT desirable. But if used correctly, it works sort of like that without being visible. It's also similiar to the up-to go-down-to go-up principal. In other words, you are creating a motivating movement which generates a reaction. The jump is the reaction to the plié which is the action, but really is a reaction to an up before that. The same thing applies to turning.


Here is an image that might help: Picture a giant caldron, and you are the witch, stirring the brew in the caldron. Do this movement, using your knees and your whole body, including the arms. Does this help at all?

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Ah, OK, I see; over/undercircle kinesiology! Sorry!:)


Take what I said about the cat-dog thing and use what you like of it, but hearken here to Ms. Leigh; this works for a surprising number of students!:D

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Ok - I think I'm getting it. Comparing it to over/undercircle movement helped. :) Actually, we were practicing en dedans pirouettes yesterday in class and this is sort of the image I was working on. Now I just have to try this next time we're doing arabesque turns. Thanks!

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One of the really difficlt things for me to learn to do was not to spot in the arabesque turn. But after I learned this concept it helped to keep the allignment and did not distort the line of the turn. The whole string comming through your head constantly pulling you up also gives a mental picture to keep thinking about in your turn.


Best of luck everybody!

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  • 2 months later...
Guest IUdancer

I have problems with these, too... it seems as if I can do one just fine, but my teacher likes to make us do sixteen continuous counts of them, ending by going into a pirouette en dedans from the last arabesque turn. Ick. What I've found helps me keep my momentum from one to the next, especially because the working leg is kept in arabesque the whole time and never touches the ground, is to concentrate on bringing my opposite side with me and not letting the opposite arm (the one in second) get behind me. Otherwise, I have no chance of getting around time after time. Anyone else have suggestions relating to this? I still haven't mastered it....



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