The Perfect Port de Bras

It has been said, “the audience watches the dancer from the waist up.” While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, there certainly is an emphasis on the upper half when it comes to the layperson enjoying ballet. For this reason, we look at the port de bras.

Quick fact: port de bras literally means “carriage of the arms.” If you’re reading along and you think of those other bras, you’re not far off — the word for brassiere was taken from the old french terms for arm guard, or shoulder strap.

Ellen Davis of the Yoga of Ballet does a wonderful video on port de bras you can find here. I’ll also be referencing a video by Cheryl Ale of RPM Revolutionary Principles of Movement.

Some takeaways:

Port de bras means “carriage of the arms,” not just letting your arms fall where they may.

At all times, hold your head high. Imagine zipping a zipper from your pubic bone to your sternum. This will help with proper alignment.

You want the shoulders back and down. It is helpful to imagine the arms coming from the center of the back. This involves expanding the latissimus dorsi. From there, the shoulder is higher than the elbow, and the elbow higher than the wrist. The wrist and elbow point the same direction.

Remember to finish through the fingers for a beautiful ballet look!

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