Arabesque: the position where the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended directly behind the body with a straight knee.
One of the basic poses in ballet, arabesque, derives its name from a form of Moorish ornament. In ballet, it is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, which can be straight or demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles, and the arms held in various harmonious positions creating the longest possible line from the fingertips to the toes. The shoulders must be held square to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied to infinity. The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques: the Russian School (Vaganova) holds four, and the French School, two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps, both in the slow movements of adagio and the brisk, gay movements of allégro.
The standing leg can be straight or in plie, but the back leg must always be straight. Arabesque can be found in almost every aspect of ballet, both contemporary and classical, as well as other dance forms. Arabesque can be done with the back leg either on the ground (a terre) or raised in the air (en l’air).
Arabesque Positions: Arabesque has several different versions, all defined by the position of the dancer’s arms. The one constant is that the dancer must have a straight leg directly behind them, or it is not an arabesque. The different positions that can be done are first arabesque, second arabesque, or third arabesque.
First arabesque is when a dancer in arabesque has the arm on the same side as the supporting leg extended out in front of their body, with the other arm extended side or towards the diagonal back.
Second arabesque is when a dancer in arabesque has the arm that is on the same side as the back leg extended out in front of their body, with the arm on the side of the supporting leg to the side or diagonal back.
Third arabesque is when a dancer in arabesque now has both arms extended in front of the body, with the arm on the same side as the supporting leg slightly higher than the other, so the hand is anywhere between the top of their head to a foot above their head. The arm on the side of the leg in arabesque should never move higher than the shoulders.
- Movement Explanations:
- Move your body a bit forward while you left up your leg.
- Straighten and lift the back leg behind you.
- Arms open, one to the side and one in front.
- Movement Techniques:
- Both legs turned out.
- Core engaged.
- Slightly arch your upper back.