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Arm movements in Act III pdd, Sleeping Beauty

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Right after the start of the Act III pdd, The Prince supports Aurora in arabesque as she leans forward and gently waves one arm and then the other in a kind of swimming or floating motion. I am struck by this movement every time I see the ballet or the pdd in isolation. It happens only once, but it is one of the images from this ballet that I cannot get out of my mind.

I recently compared videos of how three Auroras have performed it. Natalia Makarova bends low and extends her torso outwards. Her expression is dreamy. The arms seem to flow in a sweeping motion and it seems that this last longer than it actually does. She seems to savor the moment -- and wants us to do the same.

Viviana Durante's arms are stiffer, and she twists her upper body so far to each side that the movement actually appears strained and even contorted.

Sofiane Sylve gets it over with quickly, hardly bending forward at all. In her performance, the movement makes no impression at all.

Does this movement have a name? Does it have a significance in the story line? (It does seem to remind us of other interesting arm movements before and after.) Are there any standards how it should be performed?

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Hi Bart!

When I learned the pas de deux myself the teacher told the girls to float the arms. Her partner should turn her slightly from side to side as she does this. I

just think it's a matter of slight differences in productions, styles and traditions. The most russian ballerinas I have seen have from the attitude croissé bent forwards into a penché (third arabesque) floating her arms from side to side, as you describe; not also that her partner has to help her achieve this movement.

While I think most english productions just have the ballerina from the third arabesque penché turn into fourth arabesque, but with floating arms.

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Thanks, vissi d'arte. I was so mesmerised by the arm movement that I confess I didn't pay much attention to what the man was doing to support the illusion of floating or swimming. It makes sense, though. In Act III Aurora, with the love and support of her Prince, can expand outwards confidently and be anything that she wishes to be.

I'll be checking these videos again and watching more carefully. I don't know why these few seconds have such a powerful effect on me. I plan on looking at how Fonteyn and others do it as well.

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FYI: After reading this query, the following immediately came to my mind..

The same/similar movement (and maybe the progenitor of the classical version in SB?) appears in the Act II Grand Pas in Giselle. Same supported develope croise en avant & fouette into 3rd arabesque, AND then the gently sweeping/floating arm movements. A wafting ghost effect for Giselle or inherited move from some other 19th c. (or earlier) tradition? That develope/fouette seems to have been used/borrowed for every pdd ever after, but not always those gracefully floating arm sweeps.

Just something to consider.

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