Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

My dance teacher always tells me to connect my arms to my back. What does this mean, and how can I do it? —Sherry

 

It took me a long time to figure this out, too. The key is to not think of the arm as a separate appendage starting at the top of the shoulder—otherwise your port de bras will look flimsy and two-dimensional. Instead, imagine that your arms originate at the bra line, right under your scapulas. To get a better feel for what muscles need to be engaged, roll your shoulders back, stopping at the bottom of the roll. You should feel your shoulder blades pressing down and your upper back and core muscles working. From there, place your fingers on your shoulders (keeping the ribs together) and feel the elbows reaching out long. Make sure there’s space between your shoulder blades—you don’t want to pinch them together. Now, lower the hands to second position. You should feel support running all through the upper back and arm.

To give you a visual of how port de bras connects to the back during movement, click here to see the great Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova in “The Dying Swan." Notice that she’s not merely flapping her arms up and down, but that her movement originates organically from her core.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: The Joffrey Ballet's Dara Holmes

A seasoned dancer, Dara Holmes' career with The Joffrey Ballet has consisted of a lot of heavy lifting in the ensemble. "As a new company member, I was onstage all the time," says Holmes, 28. "The older you get, the more you start to appreciate your body and want to preserve it. If I want to keep dancing and do bigger roles, I need to be healthy."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Jeremy Kyle, Courtesy Laubacher

My First Month as a Professional Dancer in the Age of COVID-19

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, in August, brimming with nerves and excitement to launch my career as an aspirant with Eugene Ballet. After months of quarantining at home in Pittsburgh because of the coronavirus lockdown, transitioning to my new life on the West Coast marked a rapid shift. But in time, it granted me newfound feelings of security. For starters, the ritual of filling up my water bottle, packing my shoes and leotard, putting up my hair and walking into the studio reintroduced a much needed flow of normalcy into my life.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks