Dear Katie: How Can I Improve My Port de Bras?

Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I can't seem to get my port de bras right. A few different teachers have told me that my arms look lifeless because I'm not supporting them properly—but what does that really mean?


Dear Faith,

So many dancers have trouble with port de bras! When it comes to properly supporting your arms, the first thing to think about is actively placing them, rather than letting them follow the actions of your lower body. Be very definite about every position and transition. In pirouettes, hold your first position exactly; in arabesque, think about your arms reaching their full extension at exactly the moment your back leg does. Focusing on precision in your port de bras will help you start engaging the muscles in your arms and back.

Speaking of which: Start thinking about your arms as an extension of your back, like wings. Your back muscles are much larger than your arm muscles, so they can give you much better support. If you imagine each port de bras position originating deep in your back, and then stretching all the way through your fingertips, you'll avoid the "lifeless" look your teachers have been critiquing.

For more of Katie's helpful tips and advice, click here.

Dear Katie
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)

Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.

The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News
Including, of course, "Single Ladies" (Vevo)

Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancy FX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Videos
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M

Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.

The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.

As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox