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Performing a Second Port de Bras and the movement principle for ballet

This is an excerpt from Beginning Ballet With HKPropel Access by Gayle Kassing.

Second Port de Bras

To perform a second port de bras, begin in preparatory position, or fifth position en bas. Raise both arms to fifth position en haut. There, rotate the arms outward and lower them down to second position. Then lift the elbows slightly and float the arms downward, finishing in preparatory position.

The smooth, continuous, coordinated arm movements of the port de bras can complement or counterpoint the leg and foot movements in an exercise or combination.

Practicing first and second port de bras is the basis for incorporating port de bras into the preparation for barre and center work. Later, arm positions are incorporated into the exercises or arms are held in a specific position until the end of the exercise or combination.

Movement Principles for Ballet

Like all dance forms, ballet relies on a set of movement principles. One or more of the principles interface with poses through exercises, steps, and combinations. Movement principles incorporate scientific and aesthetic concepts into ballet technique. Understanding each principle and how to apply it is part of learning ballet technique.

Looking at the movement principles pyramid shown in figure 5.14, begin at the bottom tier. As your technique increases, you move upward from the bottom tier, which includes the basic principles of alignment, turnout, and stance. The second level of the pyramid comprises distribution of weight and transfer of weight. Moving up the pyramid, squareness is the central principle and relates to lift (also known as pull-up) and counterpull. Counterbalance and aplomb form the next level, and although balance is at the tip of the pyramid, it is the movement principle that connects all of the tiers.


Having proper alignment means having good posture that integrates the dancer's body as a whole—head, torso, arms, and legs. Alignment is both a static and a dynamic movement principle, which means it applies when holding a pose (static) and while the body moves through space (dynamic). Dancers adjust body alignment quickly and with control during exercises and combinations. Once one part the body is out of alignment, other parts compensate, causing misalignment and possible injury. When the body is not aligned it affects all major joints. Learning and practicing good alignment are critical to correct dancing and benefit you both inside and out of class.


The hallmark of ballet technique is turnout, the outward rotation of the legs and feet that begins in the hip socket. Deep rotator muscles around the hip support the ability of the leg to rotate in the hip socket. Turnout extends from the hip joint through the upper and lower leg and the foot. Muscles of the upper and lower legs and the abdominal muscles are essential to attaining and controlling turnout.

As a beginning dancer, the angle of your turnout should be at natural turnout, which is about 90 degrees, or 45 degrees for each leg. As you practice turnout, your legs and feet gain muscle memory to stand, move, and stop while continuing to maintain the turnout in various positions.


When you stand or move, the weight of your body is either on both feet or one foot. In classical ballet stance, the weight on both feet should be equally distributed over the foot triangle. Stance has an obvious connection to alignment. Weight distribution and weight transfer interact directly with stance.

Weight Distribution and Weight Transfer

Standing poised and ready to move from two feet to one or from one foot to two initially requires thought behind the movement. You have to know where your weight is (weight distribution; on both feet or one foot) and to where it is going (weight transfer;to the same foot, other foot, or both feet) as you stand or move. Good alignment has a direct connection to weight distribution through the feet. Consequently, weight distribution connects to your turnout, too. Together the principles of weight distribution, transfer, turnout, and alignment link to stance and ultimately to the foot triangle (figure 5.15).


Squareness is the central movement principle in the third tier of the pyramid of principles. In ballet, the torso works as a unit, so the shoulders and hips should be level and face the same direction. Using the squareness principle, the torso is quiet and square, which allows focus on leg movements and their directions or on entire body movements in relation to the dance space (figure 5.16). In the beginning ballet class, you first perform barre exercises facing the barre so that you can understand and practice this principle. In the center, squareness applies to using body directions in relation to the space.

Learn more about Beginning Ballet.

More Excerpts From Beginning Ballet With HKPropel Access