Adequate flexibility of the muscles crossing the hip are important for achieving the aesthetic goals of the skilled dancer and are needed for the successful execution of movements such as arabesque.
Try this stretch to stretch the front of the hip:
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip flexor flexibility is critical for allowing proper technique when moving the leg to the back.
Weakness and tightness of the hip flexors or psoas muscle can result in mis-alignments of the lumbar spine and pelvis, which then affect the legs and stability of the spine especially when mastering movements of ballet technique.
- Keep the front knee directly over the front ankle.
- Press your hips forward and down
- Avoid bouncing, sustain the pose for 10-15 breathes. Release and repeat.
- Actively press the back foot against the wall to intensify the stretch.
- Press the hands on the thigh of the front leg to keep the torso upright.
- Once you are comfortable in this position, reach your arms forward and up.
- Lunge with the back foot remaining on the ground.
- Hands can press into blocks on either side of the foot to maintain balance
Below is the explanation for another great arabesque prep exercise from Dance Anatomy by Jacqui Green Haas.
Arabesque requires detailed coordination of hip extension with spinal extension. Remember to work the thigh against the resistance of uncontrolled lower-back arch and pelvic twisting. Once you have support from your core, hip extensors, and hip rotators, let that power support any pelvic rotation or anterior tilt as the leg goes higher. Feel the movement of the arabesque being initiated by the hip extensors along with the eccentric lengthening o the abdominal muscles to protect your spine. Your upper body must tilt forward slightly to correlate with the leg elevating.
Improve your arabesque by adding this exercise to your warm up!
Step 1:From standing position with legs hip width apart and hands flat on the floor. Move your right leg into tendu derriere.
Step 2: Move your leg from tendu to arabeque stopping at 90 degrees.
Step 3: lift your leg as high as you can while inhaling slowly focusing on your hip flexors.
Step 4: hold this position for a count of 4 and lower slowly with control for 8 counts.
Repeat this 4 times on each side turned out AND parallel 3 times a week or as part of your warm up routine.
Teachers- you can incorporate this into your warm up to help students improve their flexibility. Let us know how you improve!