When you study ballet, one of the most important things is your attention to detail. Every little movement, gesture and angle of your body is part of the story and has a purpose. There is also precedent for everything, so you need to learn the technical elements to ensure you look the part.
Perfect Ballet Arms
Hands and arms are the finishing elements of the body along with the feet and are therefore very important. They help create the line that you are aiming for but are also very easy to forget while working on other elements.
Perhaps the best way to train yourself to make perfect ballet hands and arms is the remember the most common mistakes, here are 5 examples:
1: Pinching your fingers
Mastering the port de bras can be tricky, and it is easy to try and find little ways to do it. One of those is to pinch your fingers but sadly this doesn’t create the right look either. It may help to stop the thumb sticking out but doesn’t create the look you want and looks awkward, spoiling the fluidity of the hands. Let your hands ‘breathe’ in movements with natural cushioning between the thumb and fingers (around 3-4 cm).
2: Crab hands
When you stiffen your hands and fingers, you create a claw shape often known as crab hands and this spoils the line of the arm. In some dances, there is a requirement for claw hands but even that has curved fingers and a widely spread thumb, so different from crab hands. There are lots of tricks to combat it including using a hair tie around your wrist to train yourself not to do it.
3: Thumbs sticking out
Thumbs really do cause problems in ballet! In this common mistake, the thumbs spike out at almost right angles to the arm and the fingers are also overly rigid. The thumb is the big problem though because it spoils the port de bras shape. The mirror is your friend when retraining yourself to avoid this particular look – keep watching what your hands look like.
4: Broken wrists
Whether you call it a ‘broken’ wrist, limp hands or something else, the look is where the hand drops from the desired straight line with the arm – a bit like if you had broken it. This spoils the look of the profile but also is a danger for more strenuous movements such as an arabesque. The tip is to keep your fingers reaching for some imaginary line on the horizon rather than letting your wrist flop.
5: Pancake hands
While there’s a lot about getting things flatter in ballet, one thing you don’t want to be flat is your hands – and this is known as pancake hands. This is where you flatten fingers and thumbs to avoid having stuck out thumbs but doesn’t look any better. Again, watch your hands in the mirror to make sure they are spaced well and that you use your breathing to relax stiffness in the body that then travels to the hands or wrists.