2 3 Mad Monday Armpit Zone | Ballet Webb

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mad Monday Armpit Zone

Mad Monday Armpit Zone

Accomplished artists in any area make their skills appear effortless.  For dancers, this involves “hiding” the physical effort needed to produce each step. Part of this is simply control over facial expressions – no grimacing allowed.  But it goes beyond this.

Most of the work, or physical effort, is done below the armpits.  That’s right, everything from there down works – the turn-out, the extension, the stretching of the feet – the list goes on and on.  But the type of effort is different above the armpits.

The arms, head, shoulders, and even the upper back do not do “grunt” work.  The effort here is absolutely physical, but in a more sculptured way.  The arms are shaped and the muscles are being engaged, but no barbells are being lifted.  The spine is being lengthened away from gravity, but it is not like pulling a horse out of the mud.  It is a kinder, gentler sort of physical effort. 

Above and below the “armpit zone” require two different kinds of physical effort – the difference between holding a raw egg and squashing it (see previous blog, Secret #1k).

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Secret #7hh:  
“The work occurs below - in the armpit zone.”

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“The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.
-          Charles Baudelaire

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