"Hear the dance, see the music" is a quote spoken by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, to describe the relationship between dance and music. In six words, he has articulated how dance visually expresses music, and what dancers should bear in mind when they perform. For many, dance is music made visible. Though, some describe themselves as having two left feet, dancing is actually a natural ability with babies beginning to bop to music as young as five months. Today dancing has transformed into an art, and a means of expression. Particularly for ballet, which began during the renaissance in the 1500s in Italy. When Catherine de Medici an Italian noblewoman married French King Henry II, the art of ballet progressed rapidly in France where the terminology and the vocabulary of ballet was codified. Especially for the port de bras - meaning carriage of the arms.
A dancer's arms appear to be poetic shapes of exquisite beauty, the result of hours spent in front of a mirror. Just as hands are used to punctuate everyday conversation, in classical ballet, they are also vital in conveying expression and meaning. A dancer spends their life time working on the shapes of their arms through to their fingers, however the arms are not limited to mere embellishments. Each movement has been carefully studied to be functional as well, supporting the coordination of a dancer, thus allowing them to jump higher, balance for longer and turn faster etc.
Interestingly, the beauty and sensitivity in a dancer's hands reflect the technical skill of a dancer. As the arms are used to aid the coordination of steps, if there are any underlying weaknesses in another part of a dancer's body, it becomes obvious in the delicacy of the port de bras which may become rigid and stiff.
Although to many, the footwork of a dancer is intriguing, the art and expression lies within the arms and face of a dancer.