How I Mix Up Port de Bras for My Students

How I Mix Up Port de Bras

  • Balancé
  • Temps de Fleche
  • Saut de Chat
  • Chassé Entournant
  • Tombé Pas de Bourrée

Just a few steps for which many dancers have a default port de bras. There are many steps that would make it on this list.

Maybe at one school all the dancers extend the arms to the First Arabesque line for a Grand Jeté, but in another school they might automatically move to opposite arm as leg. Try to give them a different port de bras and they either don’t do it because they have memorized it so well the other way, or they try to do it your “new” way and suddenly it looks like they have never had a ballet class. Ever.

Of course, this lack of adaptability is not on the dancers but, rather, the teachers. We each have our defaults, and I have spoken about that in regards to port de bras here. But I would like to offer some alternatives to the default port de bras I see for three steps on a daily basis. Not because there is anything wrong with the default, but because sometimes mixing it up can be a great thing.

Chassé Entournant

  • Default Port de Bras:  Leading arm opens side, arms pull into 4th then through 1st
  • Alternative 1:  Arms remain demi seconde
  • Alternative 2:  Fingertips of leading hand are placed on leading shoulder while opposite arm is 2nd
  • Alternative 3:  Arms pull in to a tight 1st

Temps de Fleche Derriere

  • Default Port de Bras:  Dip towards the supporting leg (arms 1st or 2nd), on the jump pull the body up and over the opposite side while the arms extend allongé.
  • Alternative 1:  Arms breathe into a Cecchetti 3rd Arabesque
  • Alternative 2:  Demi en dehors port de bras
  • Alternative 3:  Wrists crossed low in front of the torso (Swan Lake style)

Tombé Pas De Bourrée Entournant

  • Default Port de Bras:  Same as Chassé Entournant
  • Alternative 1:  Keep the second arm in 2nd instead of pulling it into 1st
  • Alternative 2:  Arms pull in from 2nd to first followed by a full en dehors port de bras
  • Alternative 3:  Demi en dehors port de bras, immediately followed by demi en dedans port de bras

This is only a start. The alternatives are only limited by our own creativity and can be influenced by the music or dynamic we wish to instill in our students. Stepping out of default mode will add a breath of freshness to your class and allow your students to explore the many ways in which they can paint their port de bras with their artistic voice.

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