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Barre: Port de bras

Form and/or Function

Using a light and unstrained quality, the arms are carried in circular articulations (half and full circles), 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.

Notes on our approach

We used the traditional pathways of a port de bras: breath, half and full port de bras dehors and dedans, and transposed it into different body parts. In this group, all the dancers performed the same variations. Alternatively, dancers could also set and perform individual variations or choose two out of the four variations for example.


On an open phrasing, we explored half circles and full circles with different body parts.


We set four variations: arm, head, arm combined with head (opposite side) and leg. The third version combines the head and arm variation. This variation deliberately breaks the traditional arm – head connection, to create a coordination challenge. Also see glossary notes on setting.


  • Port de bras variations can be used in other phrases later in the class. (See Suzie in deep plié)
  • Develop variations combining more than one body part
  • Set different pathways, appropriate to the different dancers
  • Ask dancers to choose two out of the four variations most effective for them

Observation Tasks

  • What are the differences in the timing and execution of the pathways?
  • Think about feedback to give to individual performers
  • Dancers who use their arms to locomote (wheelchairs, crutches etc.) constantly have to make choices whether to prioritze the locomotion or the simultaneous gestures. As a teacher I want to support this process and help setting a variety of possibilities, challenges and priorities