Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Can I Achieve the Perfect Arabesque Line?

Photo courtesy of DM Archives

Q: How do you get a high arabesque leg with your back perfectly upright? I know I have the flexibility to have an arabesque over 90 degrees, but can't seem to get my leg up there.

A: There are two things you should focus on for a beautiful arabesque: first, having flexible, strong muscles at the hip, and second, having strong core and upper-back muscles so you can maintain that elegant lift of the spine.

If you know you have the flexibility at the hip and can easily do the splits, perhaps there is some weakness in your hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Check this by noticing how hard it is to do the bridge exercise with both feet on the floor, and then slowly lift one foot off the ground without letting the pelvis drop to one side.

Next, check your spine. Round down into a halfway standing forward fold, but bend your knees slightly to take the strain off the hamstrings. Then have a helper look at the shape of your spine as you are folded over. Is it in a C shape? If so, you have good flexibility in all three areas of the spine. Is the area between your shoulder blades or lower back flat? The flattened areas may indicate muscular tightness. Do you tend to slump at the desk or computer? If so, strengthening may be useful for your upper middle back.

A great exercise is to first rest on your back over a big physioball in order to give your middle back muscles a rest in an extended position. Then turn over on your stomach and place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side. Slowly lengthen your spine to lift off the physioball, while keeping your core engaged and on the ball so you don't arch into your lower back.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.