After many years of ballet dancing during my youth, I will never forget the graceful beauty of my ballet instructors’ arms and hands. Always perfectly poised and positioned, she created these magical lines of elegant movement. Are long arms suitable for Ballet, and are they considered a requirement for ballet dancers?
The typical ballet dancer would usually have a lean physique with long arms and legs. Although hands and arms are critical in creating lines in ballet dancing, and it can be beneficial to have longer limbs, it is not essential for becoming a successful ballet dancer.
There are differing opinions as to what the perfect physical body would be for Ballet Dancing in specific, with many professionals in the field having opposing views as to whether long limbs, particularly arms, are more beneficial or more of a handicap for dancing, in particular Ballet Dancing.
Is It Good To Have Long Arms For Ballet Dancing?
We can all agree that there is no such thing as the perfect body. While specific characteristics of a body type may be easier to work with or more ideal for particular sports and dance, the most crucial element is for one’s body to be correctly proportioned.
It may come as no surprise that hands and arms are vital in Ballet Dancing; they help create a line, which is the aim of this type of dance. Generally, when one is to think of the body type of a dancer, a long, lean, athletic, muscular body with long graceful limbs may come to mind concerning Ballet Dancing.
People who naturally have longer arms and legs can move their bodies differently from how a person with shorter limbs may be able to, and in this way, it can be deemed beneficial for a ballet dancer to have long arms.
Once you can learn to control your arms, you can create beautiful aesthetic lines, which would seem an advantage of having them. Longer limbs can undoubtedly be considered a blessing for a ballet dancer.
Is Having Long Arms For Ballet Dancing Essential?
Ballet dancers may have long arms, long legs, a long neck, and a slim frame. However, how critical is having longer arms for a ballet dancer?
We chatted to a professional Ballet Dancer and Instructor who has been running her own Ballet School for several years, and here is what she had to say regarding whether long arms are good for Ballet;
‘The short answer is yes. Long arms are good for Ballet Dancing. Longer arms allow for beautiful, long lines, which, after all, is essential in Ballet.
They can be a nightmare for the dancer as they usually have to work harder to achieve shapes and lines, mainly when they are young and training, but once they have mastered the posture and Port de Bras (carriage of the arms), they are always at more of an advantage visually than shorter armed dancers.’
It cannot be denied that long arms make the line in a movement look beautiful, and therefore this can be beneficial for Ballet Dancing, where much emphasis is placed on arm and hand movement.
However, what can be argued as being more essential than long limbs, particularly arms, is the strength of your back and core, as this will directly improve balance and stability, which is necessary for this type of dance.
When Long Arms For Ballet Dancing Are Problematic
Ballet is all about dynamic movement, and while some experts may agree that having longer arms is favorable, some disagree on this point.
Having arms that are loo long or far longer than what is average can become problematic for several reasons. If your arms are too long, there is a more considerable risk of injury for you, as your core needs to be far more vital to handle the movements and control of your arms.
We consulted another local Ballet Dance Instructor who hosts Ballet Dance lessons for three years of age up until an adult level and has been in the industry for more than 30 years. When asked the same question, she made these comments;
‘No, longer arms are not preferable for Ballet. Each ballerina works with what she has. Arm lines and placement are essential for the visual effect, but the physical length of the arm is not a consideration.’
When a Ballet Dancer has longer limbs and longer arms, maintaining balance and alignment can become more of a challenge and a struggle.
Tips For Ballet Dancers With Long Arms
If you are encountering the circumstance where you do have long arms and are struggling to manage the challenges this may bring with it, here are a few ways which you can work with your long arms and produce the best outcome for your ballet dancing;
Pay Attention To Your Coordination
By concentrating on your coordination and paying attention to this area, you can train your brain, legs, and arms to work more effectively together.
Tone And Strengthen Your Arms
By working on toning and strengthening your arms through ballet arm exercises, you will increase flexibility and tighten those harder-to-tone areas of the upper limb.
Focus On Your Core
By strengthening your body’s core, you will add muscle memory and stability to your arm movements. Good core strength exercises are Crossed Leg Crunches and Planks. Pilates is an excellent option for strengthening your core as it is low impact and will improve your endurance and flexibility.
Select A Dance Instructor Wisely
It is essential to find a dance teacher who will work with your strengths and weaknesses and steer you to achieve the best result for your specific body type. It is not productive to compare the body you have been given with other dancers, but rather to celebrate the excellent attributes and work on more challenging ones.
You should not disqualify yourself from becoming a ballet dancer or from furthering your ballet career just due to a physical attribute, including long arms. By working closely with your instructor and including some critical exercises in your routine, you can train your muscles and upper limbs for the best possible outcome.
Some options are that long arms can be a blessing and transform you into an even more successful dancer. The most important tip is to put in the practice, and whether you experience having longer arms as a blessing or a challenge, it is most important to work with the body you have been given.