How to Improve The Arabesque
An arabesque is one of the most week known and beautiful of all classical ballet movements. It should show clean leg, arm, torso and eye lines, demonstrate balance, grace, poise, and have a wonderful feeling of lift and flow.
To achieve all of the above, the student dancer must be aware of weight placement.
Getting the weight off the supporting heel and on to the ball of the foot and toes before raising the other leg en l'air is important.
Find a sense of extension and lengthening in the supporting leg.
Ensure the supporting leg is not over or under turn out and is pulled up from the ankles, calves, through the knee and upper leg with the turn out muscles fully used.
To achieve a beautiful raised leg, make sure that when in tendu derriere a terre you are fully pulled up and balanced before attempting to lift the leg en l'air. The leg must be fully stretched and turned out with a feeling of extension way beyond the back foot.
Fishing the back raised foot leads to a beautiful line, whereas the opposite "sickling" is very detrimental to the line of the leg.
Arm lines should be flowing, extended and perfectly placed for each of the three positions.
Example: 1st arabesque when using opposite arm raised to leg
Depending on the method and choreography, the front arm can be as low as shoulder height or diagonally raised towards the ceiling and should be in line with the face. The side arm should be just below shoulder height and flow slightly diagonally back.
Whatever height used, the arms must be in clean lines, extended outwards with graceful finger lines that don't disturb the main line. The eye line should traditionally flow along and beyond the third finger of the front arm.
The hips should remain aligned and firmly lifted with good turn out and the strong use of core is essential!
The lower back must always be lifted and not crunched and the rib cage and upper torso should feel pulled up and expanded sideways to help achieve height of leg. Do not lean back or too far forward.
Keep the shoulder blades firmly in place and extend the spine through a very long neck, feeling the extension of the spine through the crown of the head.
arabesques are not static even when held and balanced, but must show a constant lift, extension and flow of line.
If you are having trouble balancing, then you might not be standing aligned with correct weight placement, not pulling up and lifting enough, and/or not extending or stretching legs fully or using your muscles properly. Try this visualisation trick:
Stand in arabesque a terre with your arms bras bas, now imagine a wide rubber Thera band tied around the top of your right thigh and the other end to your right wrist, and the same on the left leg and arm. You should imagine that the Thera band feels firm so that when you raise your leg and arms into a 1st arabesque there is considerable tension and stretch in the imaginary band, this should give you a sense of stability and help combat those wobbles!
(The positions of first, second and third arabesque are differenlty numbered in the various techniques, syllabi and methods.)