A Perfect Arabesque in Ballet

Improve Technique to Lift Your Arabesque to a New Level

Ballet Russe - arabesque
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Most people consider an arabesque the essence of classical ballet. The arabesque, when executed correctly, is one of the most beautiful poses performed by a ballerina and quite possibly the hardest to perfect.

First Arabesque Is Classical Ballet

Most every dance style has its signature step. Modern dancers strive to master the tilt. Jazz dancers try to perfect the layout. Ballet dancers must master the arabesque. The arabesque (or first arabesque) is such a staple in ballet that most auditions require a photograph of candidates showing their best attempt at the step. It is usually required because it is one of the hardest positions to make in ballet. Your ability to do a good arabesque will show the judges that you have good turn out, flexibility, possible hyper-extension, and nicely arched feet. If you were to attend a classical ballet, you would most likely see a multitude of breathtakingly perfect arabesques.

The Perfect Arabesque

The first step toward a great arabesque is learning what an arabesque is not: standing on one leg and kicking the other leg back as high as you can. A good ballet instructor will tell you that the quality of your arabesque will only improve as the quality of your technique improves. A perfect arabesque will serve as a reward for the dancer who works hard at the barre, concentrating on every aspect of every barre exercise. To perform an arabesque properly, a dancer must work hard on four fundamentals: correct posture, control of the feet, pulled-up knees and a straight body.

Arabesque Technique

You can learn the correct form of an arabesque by practicing correct execution of grand battements to the back. The upper body should tilt forward slightly, the chest should be raised and the supporting leg must be straight. The raised foot should be turned out and never sickled. As with all of ballet, excellent results will follow improvements in basic technique.

Arabesque and Barre Work

Nobody ever said ballet was easy. Becoming a good ballet dancer takes endless hours of work at the barre. Barre work teaches you proper body alignment and how to execute steps properly when performing them without the use of the barre for support. Many of the combinations you will perform at the barre will help you master your arabesque. A rond de jambe is performed in order to maximize turnout and increase flexibility of the hips. Battements tendus help warm up the legs, build leg muscles and improve turnout. Practicing elevés and relevés at the barre will help strengthen your legs, ankles, and feet. They are considered one of the building blocks of dance, and one of the first movements taught in a beginning ballet class. Pliés are performed at the barre because they stretch all the muscles of the legs and prepare the body for the exercises to follow. Pliés train the body in shape and placement.