Here we go -- one of the most complicated aspects of ballet brought into our allongée classes is our arm placement. Many parts of our classes are based in classical ballet technique, and your allongée® 1st, 2nd & 5th position arms most definitely fall into that category.
In all of these positions, your two arms are making a rounded, almost half-circle shape by slightly bending at the elbows.
Here's where this gets amazing; your arm positions are actually all held from your back. Say buy-bye to those bulky bicep worries just in time for sleeveless season! 💪
Your arms turn out at the shoulder blades so the "armpits always have space to breathe". By positioning and maintaining the position of the arms this way, you are giving your complete upper body a workout. Each position is held by those inter-scapular muscles which help strengthen our cervical/thoracic posture while working the deltoids on the top of the shoulder, the less bulky double-heads of the biceps, and the lats on the side of the upper body & abdomen.
5th Position & 1st are the same thing.
They're both taking your two half-circle arms to make a full-circle. 5th's full circle is above the head. 1sts's full circle is in front of the body. Either way, your shoulders are always rotating outward. This creates greater inter scapular activation as well as increases the work load for the deltoids.
By turning out from the shoulder blades and thus "opening the elbows", we're also making for a much more spectator-friendly position. If you find that you're struggling with keeping the shoulders turned out in 5th, it may help to think about avoiding hiding the face from your imaginary audience. See below.
If the shoulders aren't rotating out, this is what you get- a position which hides your beautiful face rather than framing it! During movement between 1st and 5th & 2nd and 5th, the lack of outward rotation in the shoulders creates a ton more work for your biceps as well.
Second Position is the same as well, it's just in a different place in space. You're basically taking those two same half circles and bringing them out to the sides just below the shoulders, focusing on keeping the same shape on both arms.
We're talking work for the front of the upper body, back of the upper body, and tops & bottoms of those beautiful soon-to-be-swan arms! And if you have ever taken bikini or upperbody at allongée, you already know that the struggle is real! With or without bands!
When you're a newbie and ALSO when you are feeling fatigued after a long day or just too many reps, you'll probably start seeing this chicken wing position. No wings allowed.
Swan Arms ✔️
Chicken Wings ☠
Keep your eye on it in class and re-adjust your positioning when needed. Take slower reps to perfect your firm, and as strength builds the correct muscles to reinforce your technique, muscle memory will kick in and it will really become second nature.