Thursday, October 23, 2014

Port De Bras and All That Jazz

As you may or may not have noticed, I have been writing my blogs in order from head to toe, therefore the title, "Bun to Ballet Shoes". That is only related to the blogs on physical attributes of a ballerina, not necessarily the super personal ones. Today, my blog is a mix of the two. Since I last did the "ballet bun", today I will be talking about port de bras (again, refer to my dictionary), the often unnoticed aspect when watching a ballet. Port de bras refers to the movement of your upper back and arms. When you see professional ballerinas perform, they are mesmerizing, and it's hard not to focus on the big, grand movements because, well, they're big and amazing. But what is often less noticed, is their arms and the control and energy that goes through them. Ballet wouldn't be nearly as graceful without them, they are just doing the more subtle movements.

In class, you are constantly thinking, "What do I need to fix, now?" and do your best, with the teachers help, to fix it. It sounds a lot easier than it is. There are sooooooo many things to focus on in just one simple combination...sometimes, it is a little overwhelming. That's what makes this art so exciting, though! You always have something to work on, and for me at the moment, it's my port de bras. This has been an issue for me for a while, and now it is REALLY becoming an issue.

My brain sends requests for my leg to go there, my foot to point, engage this muscle, relax that one...and so on. For some reason, my arms aren't getting their messages all the time. Yes, Houston, as in my brain, we do have a problem. If I don't focus on just my port de bras, and port de bras only, I don't use them in the right way. Instead of using my arms to continue each movement and hold them stable, they start to droop. The thing that I have to focus on when trying to fix this, is to engage my upper back to relieve some of the stress from my skinny little arm muscles. If I just lock my shoulder blades in the right position, I still have that range of motion, but I am using my muscles, rather than just placing them. I like to think of it like I'm moving through peanut butter... it adds much more artistry to my dancing. In the video of Polina Semionova, try to just watch her upper body movements to notice how much they add to her dancing.
While I am still trying to figure that out, it will be the bane of my dancing. But because I see the beauty in it when watching other ballet dancers, I am really aware of its importance. I just need to really "feel the peanut butter", and maybe, some arm strengthening as well. In fact, we can both check out this video on upper body strengthening and posture.


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