Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Classical dance defines five positions of the arms chosen sometimes quite arbitrarily, plus a resting or starting position.
Position de depart. Starting position.
Arms low in front of the body slightly supported and tapered almost touching the tutu, palms in the air, thumb tucked in, fingers soft. Both arms draw an ellipse.
This position serves as a starting point for most steps, especially those
starting by a fifth. It is also the resting position, that is, the one that dancer takes when he is motionless.
Premiere position. The first position:
arms outstretched in front of the body horizontal. This position is obtained from the previous one by raising one arm until the hands are at chest height, but carefully retaining curvature. Shoulders
must remain low.
The former is little used for itself, but it serves as an intermediary in the many port de bras.
Seconde position. Second position: horizontal sidearms, elbows supported, barely bent hands in the extension of the arms, palms forward, slightly the arm, below the horizontal of the shoulders.
It naturally accompanies the second positions of the legs and some
movements taken from a second,
Troisieme position.Third position: one vertical arm slightly bent, the other to the second.
The raised arm forms like a frame around the head. The hand is in a vertical position located very slightly in front of the body. Holding your head straight, you have to see the fingertips, looking up as much as possible.
We call this position bras d'attitude, because it usually has to be
accompanied by the pose Quatrième position. Fourth position: one vertical arm, the other bent in front of the body.
The vertical arm is the same as for the third position.
The arm in front of the body is in a position close to the first, but a little more bent. The hand should not go beyond the middle of the chest.
Fifth position or bras en Couronne (arms in a crown)
Both arms vertically frame the head slightly in front of the figure plane; the hands are not quite joined.
Classical vocabulary recognizes only these positions, but for
the convenience of our study, we will define a sixth position to which we would every time it is used, which is very common: one arm is lateral
horizontally (as in the second position), the other folded in front of the body, the hand arriving in the middle of the chest, as in the fourth position.
Sources: Grammaire de la danse Classique, Germaine Prudhommeau and Genevieve Guillot. Librairie Hachette 1969