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