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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Arabesque Penchee

Guest scuffite

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Guest scuffite

I finally understood how the arabesque penchee works and did a pretty good one recently which my teacher was pleased with.


However, it seems that I can only do it with my left leg as the working leg. When I try doing it with the right leg as the working leg, my hips and shoulders start opening up (i.e. I lose my squareness). This problem with my right working leg is not just for the arabesque penchee but also for a 90-degree arabesque. If I don't open up the hips and shoulders, the leg just cannot go up.


What can I do to improve this? Thanks!

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Scuffite, most of us have one leg with better extension, so of course the answer is more stretch and more practice with the other one! ;) While the hip has to open somewhat in order to turn out the leg in arabesque, the shoulders do not open. One of the best ways I know to correct this is to place a portable barre in front of the mirror, stand facing the barre looking straight forward to the mirror. Take your arabesque by stepping forward into it (start a few feet back from the barre) and moving your torso forward with the shoulders square as you lift the back leg. The leg should actually be hidden from your view if it is correctly behind you. As you tilt forward in the penché be sure to keep the shoulders square and the leg directly behind you. Don't let it overcross behind, which happens if you drop one shoulder and open the other creating a sideways tilt. Go straight forward. When doing the penché stay far enough back from the barre that you do not have to duck your head under it, which means when you start the step forward you are not yet touching the barre.

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In addition to concentrating on alignment, you might try this: when doing penche, think of your rear leg as rising and causing your top to come forward. Go only as far forward as you can maintain alignment and balance. If that is 1 degree, so be it. Then think of your head lifting and causing you to return to arabesque.


A teacher of mine advised that, and I find it works well.

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