Dancer Health

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.

The Conversation
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Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

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Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web
Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

Dance students aren't the only ones who get to spend their summers learning new skills and refining their dance practice. Studio owners and administrators can also use the summer months to scope out new curriculum ideas, learn the latest business strategies and even earn a certification or two.

At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

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David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

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Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

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Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

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Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

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Q: I own a studio in a city that has a competitive dance market. I've seen other studios in my community put ads on Instagram and Facebook for open-call auditions in April, long before most studios have finished their competition season and year-end recitals. Is this fair?

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Dancer Health
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Q: How can I improve my pointed feet?

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Did you know there is an annual contest in which scientists turn their PhD research into dance? Well there is, and it's even better than you're imagining! I mean, honestly, if our grade-school science teachers had us turn our schoolwork into dances, we may have enjoyed chemistry a bit more 🤣.

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Site Network
New Miami City Ballet corps member Itzkan Barbosa and her mother Miriam Barbosa pose atop a mountain of Itzkan's pointe shoes. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy of Miriam Barbosa

On the morning of May 1, Miriam Barbosa posted a photo of her daughter, Itzkan, on Facebook. The image itself is striking—Itzkan stands smiling on pointe in front of Miami City Ballet, where she has spent the last year as a pre-professional student, perched atop a mountain of old pointe shoes of all different sizes. But it's the story behind the picture that's inspired so many people to comment their congratulations and appreciation. The photo contains every single one of Itzkan's pointe shoes, from her very first pair up until the moment she got her first professional contract as a corps member with MCB last month. The image not only calls attention to the hard work and dedication necessary for young dancers to achieve their dreams, but to the sacrifices parents make to help them get there.

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