Ballet Tips: How To Improve Your Arabesque Technique

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The arabesque is one of the signature step in classical ballet. Whether you are are a professional ballerina or just starting ballet, the arabesque is something every ballerina strives to perfect its form.

Notably also one of the hardest positions to master, the arabesque requires quality tecnique including aligned posture, flexibility, good turn out, nicely arched feet, and possible hyper extension.

Not quite sure how to improve your arebesques? We’ve got you covered!

What is an Arabesque?

The arabesque is where a dancer stands and balances on one leg (supporting leg) and has the other leg (working leg)  stretched out straight directly behind his/ her back. The supposting leg may either be straight or bent. However, the working leg is always maintained staright. The arms may be held in number of harmonious positions.

There a various types of arabesque positions depending on the ballet system you learn from. There are also variations of arabesque where you make a turn called arabesuqe promenade, or tilting forward in arabesque called arabesque penche.

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Arabesque Technique

No matter which arabesque position, the key to creating a beautiful line is to focus and improve on your tecnique. Here are a few tips to do so!


1. Don’t sit into your hip socket

When in arabesque tendue or dégagé, both working and supporting leg should be lifted up without sitting in the hip sockets.

What this means is pulling up the knees while lifting all the way to the sternum without hyper- extending the ribcage. This helps to create more mobility in your hip joints to give a maximum mobility to rotate the legs and create a better turnout. 


2. Rotation of the legs

Let’s face it. Not all of us have that perfect turnout, and that’s okay! What you should be focusing on is maximising and improving your turnout with the proper technique of rotating of your legs.

If you don’t have absolute rotation through the supporting leg, you may slightly open your working hip without compromising by lifting into the lower ribs. While doing so, lift forward your supporting hip over your supporting foot and maintain a spiral rotation through the legs.


3. Keep a ‘squared’ alignment

As you lift your leg upwards, your spine is curved laterally and vertically. When doing so, remember to always maintain a ‘squared’ alignment of the body for better balancing and to achieve a clean line.

This is done by aligning the shoulders parallel with the direction you are facing. Without any tension, anchor both the shoulders and scapula downwards.

Again, remember to keep lifting the sternum without opening up the ribcage.

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The Benefits of Barre Work on Improving Arabesque

Just like taking baby steps, barre work exercises are great for improving your ballet technique without having to worry you’ll lose your balance. With the support of the barre, you can correct your body alignment and execute the steps properly which will make it easier for you once you go to centre work.

Most of the combinations of steps at the barre is there to help you to improve your arabesque.

Starting with the most basic position in ballet – pliés, this exercise will help to stretch and warm up all the muscles of the legs while allowing you to engage rotation and turnout.

Battements tendus helps to build leg muscles and improve turnout. Sometimes combined with movements of elevés and relevés, these will help to strengthen your legs, ankles, and feet to balance on one leg.

Other than that, rond de jambe is great for increasing flexbility in the hips whereas grand battements are useful for strength, flexibility in the legs and back, and extensions.

These are just a few examples of barre exercises that can help you in improving your technique and arabesque. If you truly focus on crafting your teachnique at the barre, you’ll be surprised at how freely you can move your body with much control.

Image Credit: The Royal Ballet morning class in full - World Ballet Day 2018 (Youtube)

Ballet takes a lot of hard work, and so does perfecting the arabesque. But with determination, practice, and lots of concentration, that back leg is going to lift higher and your arms will be reaching for the stars.

Also, just enjoy the process! That’s what makes improving your arabesque so special.

If you’re looking for ways to increase your flexbility, you can read more about it in our article on Top 5 Tips On Stretching and Flexibility For Dancers.


Grace Rundi

Continuously searching for an artistic voice, spotting muses, and drawing inspirations.

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