An arabesque for each position:
Contemporary Dancers have the tilt, jazz dancers have the layout, but ballet dancers have arabesque.
An arabesque is defined as: a position where the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended directly behind the body with a straight knee. The standing leg can be straight or in plie, but the back leg must always be straight. Arabesque can be found in almost every aspect of a ballet, both contemporary and classical, as well as other dance forms. Arabesque can be done with the back leg either on the ground (a terre) or raised in the air.
5 Tips for a Refined Arabesque
- 1. To increase the height of the working leg, open the hip without lifting it, making sure rotation increases as the leg ascends higher.
- 2. The back should be positioned correctly to achieve adequate height. Instead of the strongly arched Vaganova back or the rigidly vertical back espoused by the Cecchetti school, Bennett prefers moving the torso forward to facilitate the leg’s ascent. The chest should be over the toes of the standing foot. A 90-degree back-to-leg angle is the aim.
- 3. To understand the proper positioning of the back: Face the barre in first position. Holding on with both hands, tendu derrire with the right foot. Then, cambré back, feeling the arch in the center of the back. Without standing upright, lift the foot in tendu off the floor as high as you can without moving your back. Then, keeping the same back-to-leg angle, bring your back up to a vertical position, imagining that the big toe is lifting your back. Repeat on the other side.
- 4. Keeping the arabesque square means neither tipping toward the standing leg nor lifting the working hip. For a symmetrical arabesque and a traditional line, square the rib cage by making the right side of the torso even with the left side of the torso (when you’re standing on your left leg), so that you feel the stretch in the middle of your back.
- 5. Lift the chin and look over the fingers of the lifted arms, which are in line with the center of the body.