Terminology Tuesdays! Port de bra

Today's terminology is

💃 "Port de bra"

💃Pronounce: poor-t duh braw

💃Translation: movement of the arms

When we say port de bra, we are speaking about the carriage of your arms. Arm positions in ballet are generally set in bra bas, first, second, third, fourth or fifth positions. When you are asked to stretch forward, to the side, back or all the ways around the body at the same time as doing a port de bra, this is called a '‘Grand port de bra”. We generally do Grand port de bra with your plie exercise at the start of class and then again when we first get into the centre of the room - note: teachers, including myself will normally drop the “Grand” and just say port de bra when setting these exercises.

Carriage of your arms in ballet is all about finding fluidity. It’s a lovely exercise to help you really feel like that ballerina you always dreamed to be. Although a simple action to do, the more practice (even years and years) will continue to help you to work towards encouraging these arm movements to be smooth, open, broad and lengthened. It’s a good thing they feel so nice to do given we do them again, and again, and again!

Think about initiating the action from the back, even from the very bottom tip of your scapula. If we are looking to improve aesthetics or would like to working the muscles deep in the upper back, then we want to lift our arms into our various positions without allowing our shoulders to rise up towards our ears. The more relaxed (but not ‘floppy’) the rest of the body can be while initiative the arm movements, the more fluidity you will likely find.

💃Important to note: As we stretch forward for a Grande port de bra, you can choose to return to standing by either keeping the spine straight and stretching forward and up, or alternatively roll through the spine to return to standing. I personally prefer to roll through the spine as I find this a more organic and a safer action for my lower back.