March 13, 2011

Reaching out, to a Faraway Land . .

Scene: at the barre, final équilibre in arabesque. Our teacher is doing rounds and I´m the last student in line. I hold my pose until the end of the music, and then some - but there are a lot of students and I can feel my supporting leg cramping.. I need to come down and shake my legs, but there is no escaping Madame´s friendly scrutiny, so I quickly relevé up again, raise my leg into arabesque and let go of the barre. And just in time..

"Stretch your knees!" Check. "Point your toes, more!" Check. Then she hoists my leg up way higher, and okay, no problem,  I can do this. "Front arm further!" Check. I do as told, already going beyond the strictly academic, but it´s too high and not what she is asking for. "Further, more!", and seriously, I am not kidding you. So I try to reach out even more, short of popping my shoulder blade,  and trying hard not to topple off my center. 

I imagine myself yearning for someone (a prince, maybe?) or somewhere, even though there is no place I´d rather be right now. I let my front arm take me and my back leg hold me and.. there it is. Arabesque is not a static position, but a movement. There is energy going in every direction, into the floor and out of the tips of your fingers and the toes of your feet. You don´t just hold your pose, you tell a story..

Picture: Oliva Bell in Black Swan pas de deux. Photography Justin Smith


  1. "Arabesque is not a static position, but a movement. There is energy going in every direction, into the floor and out of the tips of your fingers and the toes of your feet. You don´t just hold your pose, you tell a story.."


    Are you on Twitter, by the way?

  2. My teacher always tells us the same thing. You do a movement, you lift your leg up as high as physically possible, and then, just when you can't hold it up any more and have to come down, you lift even more than you ever thought you could. Gives it all a sort of breathing quality.

    And I also think you should tweet. :)

  3. Thank you, Nichelle!

    I do owe that ahaa-moment to my very lovely teacher. I mean where would we be without you guys?

    Twitter.. Something I never got around to.. until now! Just set up my account and posted first tweet. Still learning the ropes, so bear with me. And thanks for giving me the necessary push! :)

  4. Hi, LadyCharmed!

    I just posted one minute after you, didn´t even see your comment before mine :) And now I am on Twitter too!

    That is some good advice you have been getting. These teachers sure know their stuff :) It also applies to a simple relevé, for example in 5th with arms up. We are always told to lengthen and rise and hold that feeling even when we come down. It all makes for a beautiful line and quality. Like you said :)

  5. Beautiful insights! (And welcome to Twitter; looking forward to continuing the conversation.)
    Be well.

  6. Thank you :)

    Just remember I´m a total newbie to this twitter business :D

    But I love to share insights..

    Take care :)

  7. You phrased it beautifully. So much of what we do in ballet, even when we look posed, is movement, movement everywhere. Something I'm trying to impress on my students, but not quite there yet ;)

  8. Once I read on DDN, that a teacher told their students to "reach for a cookie". But the prince is also a good idea. Or maybe a prince, holding a cookie??

  9. Oooh, prince holding cookie - my kind of bait :D

  10. Rori, I imagine your students are still trying to figure out their center. It´s a real challenge to dance a pose if you cant feel your placement yet. But even the idea of "movement everywhere" will help them eventually. Just imagine when those ahaa-moments start lighting up the studio!


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...