Improving Port de Bras

Today we’re talking about improving your port de bras and arms in general in ballet.  We will be going into detail both in this blog post and its corresponding video, which is embedded below.  I really hope you enjoy this information and find it very useful, so let’s jump right into it!


Definition and explanation

Before we can really thoroughly analyze what makes up port de bras and the muscles you need to use in order to perform it correctly, we need to understand what the term entails and how it relates to our dancing.

port de bras: Movement and carriage of the arms

Here are some examples of port de bras:

  • the arm movement during a basic échappé jump to 2nd position
  • an arm in high 5th while balancing in sous sus at the barre

As you can see from the examples given above, the term we are discussing entails a lot, ranging from large, notable movements to small and secondary positions.  Regardless, let’s try to break down the basic muscles you will need to use to hold your arms and analyze what makes a port de bras truly spectacular.

The muscles

(Click on the picture to learn more about the given muscle)

Relating these muscles to port de bras

The subscapularis: This muscle is a very important back muscle that helps with the holding of your arms from your back, rather than your shoulders.  It is also responsible for keeping the shoulder blade (scapula) from winging (sticking out).  It is located beneath the shoulder blade and on top of the ribs.

The core: These muscles are very important in order to support all movements of your arms and to keep your ribs from splaying out as you move your arms upwards along your sagittal plane (for example, from 1st position to 5th position).

Back muscles:  All of these muscles aid the support of your arms as they move around.  They all help in moving your arms on different planes and in different directions.  Each one has a different job, but for the purpose of simplicity, I have grouped them together for you.


Energy is a very important thing when it comes to port de bras.  Unlike leg steps such as tendus or battements, it’s difficult to break down arm movements and artistry into technical and anatomical terms.  In this section, we’re going to talk about energy and how it can do so much for your port de bras.

I often times get the correction, “Let the energy in your arms extend through your fingertips.”  This is really important and often forgotten.  If you think of little laser beams coming out of your fingertips, it will let that energy flow through your arms, keeping them supported and lifted.

When you don’t have energy in your arms, they will get droopy and start initiating from your shoulder blade.  If you have energy, you will end up staying lifted, therefore appearing more confident and using the correct muscles to hold your arms.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post and video.  See you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with information-filled blog posts at your disposal.

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