Definition: PORT DE BRAS - the carriage of the arms
Port de bras does not just encompass the poses of the arms, but the transitional movements between the poses including movements of the head, the use of the body and épaulement. It is the foundation of the use of the arms in ballet and is the most difficult part of dance to master. It is gradually developed with the correct positions of the arms first being achieved before including movements of the head and inclinations of the torso.
In the Vaganova style, there are six numbered port de bras as well as a preparatory or simple port de bras. While the basic, numbered forms of the port de bras are extensively used in adagio work, in more advanced classes, port de bras is incorporated in all exercises. The musical tempos and phrasing can vary, but the smooth, continuous quality of port de bras should be maintained at all times.
Tips for Better Port de Bras
Work on your posture - without proper posture, beautiful, unaffected port de bras is difficult. Things like drooping elbows originate from a lack of connection to the muscles in the arms and the upper back. To learn more about proper posture, take a look at our blog post about aplomb.
Initiate movement from your back - Initiate your port de bras with a feeling of breath, widening your back, continuing through your shoulders, upper arms, forearms, wrists and fingers.Practice! - Practice makes perfect and working on your port de bras is no different. Taking out additional movements (ie. footwork) and just working on the carriage of your arms can help you fully understand the proper coordination of the entire body with the arms.