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Centre: Port de Bras - Mirroring

Form and/or Function

Using a light and unstrained quality, the arms are moved in circular articulations, mantaining the distance between the torso and the hand. Port de bras and arm positions are used in preparation for an exercise as well as in combination with other movements e.g. a plié, to create choreographic complexity and contrasts in quality.

The RAD Grade 2 port de bras exercise in the centre, which we are exploring here, is very choreographic. It focuses predominantly on the performance and quality of the arms, whilst adding some change of facings and transfers of weight to increase the complexity.

Notes on our approach

We introduced the port de bras choreography in a sitting variation with centre: port de bras, arm version, sitting and then explored the travel motif used at the end separately with the centre: port de bras, practice of travel motif. The two parts of the phrase were then combined in centre: port de bras, full version.

As part of practising the full version we also asked the dancers to mirror their version with each other. Each couple had a leader and a follower and they switched roles half way through the exercise.

Facing each other, the dancers were challenged to perform together and perform the phrase more independently. Rather than just focusing on performing the material correctly, they needed to stay alert to subtle differences in the timing of the need to dance together.

Exploration and Setting

The centre: low and high, centre: plié, port de bras introduction, centre: rotation and centre: tendu preparation are related to and prepared for this exercise. In the sitting/stationary set up it was possible to directly instruct this set version.

It is a good example how the set RAD syllabus can be approached by introducing and working with distinct choreographic elements in multiple ways before learning the set choreography.

Score Elements

  • The entire port de bras choreography set for RAD Grade 2 Ballet in individualised variations.


  • Use different music altogether and emphasise the goal of performance quality and dancing together
  • Let dancers exchange notes, give each other feedback and clarify questions
  • Ask the dancers to set their own port de bras variation

Observation Tasks

  • What can the dancers learn from each other by dancing together?
  • Can the follower really let go of what they perceive to be the ‘correct version’ and prioritise the mirroring and staying together aspects