While dance has beautiful footwork, the arms often are essential to explaining the message of your dance to the audience. However, even if you have been dancing for years, mastering correct arm technique can be difficult.
While there are stylistically many types of arms, here are five keys to overall port de bras:
- Think of Energy Radiating to Your Fingertips
- Carry Your Arms from the Back
- Relax the Hands
- Rollback the Shoulders
- Use your Arms with the Movement
Let's break each one down.
Think of Energy Radiating to Your Fingertips
Dance can make you tired and often this lack of energy first shows itself in the arms. Many dancers often drop the elbows first or bend them. As your dancing, think about energy constantly going into the arms. Check in the mirror once in a while to make sure that your arms are lifted and have a lively quality.
Carry Your Arms from the Back
Carrying your arms from your back is a very advanced thought process, but is a great one to start learning. When you are moving your arms, imagine the movement originating between the shoulder blades rather than the shoulders. Being able to control your arms through your back will allow you more mobility.
Relax the Hands
Dancers often hold tension in the fingers and hands. This can often create a disfigured shape or as some teachers call them “claws.” Learning how to relax the hands can be very difficult, but it is a necessity. Shaking out the hands or stretching them can help greatly. Pro-tip: place your hand on a wall and alternate between cupping the hand and spreading it out into a jazz hand. This will help to stretch out the hands.
Rollback the Shoulders
Besides the hands, dancers also hold tension in the shoulders. This is seen when dancers lift the shoulders or roll them forward. This can mess up overall alignment and can also decrease mobility in the neck and upper body. Check your shoulders by lifting them up to the ears and then roll them back and then down.
Use your Arms with the Movement
Your arms are essential to getting the most out of every movement. Your arms help to lift you higher in jumps and help you turn longer and faster. Always make sure you are transitioning your arms in the most economical way possible. Transferring arms counter to the movement will throw off your balance and coordination. Practice arm movements while learning combinations to optimize this coordination.