Thousand Island Arabesque

American Ballet Theatre alumna Cristina Escoda, partnered by Adrian McHale of Ballet Populaire de l’Île du Cerf. Cristina models Ballet to the People’s regulation Hello Kitty practice T while both dancers favor flip-flops when rehearsing on cliffs. Please do not attempt this if you are not a trained professional. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Robert Watson III.)

A supported arabesque is a rare sight in this idyllic spot – herons, loons, largemouth bass and mahogany Lyman outboards are the more usual fare – but wherever dancers find inspiration in nature, Ballet to the People is there to capture the moment.

Cristina holds a 1st arabesque: the arm on the standing leg side is extended forward while the other arm extends slightly behind the shoulder, both arms held in allongé (lengthened), creating the longest possible line from fingertips to toes. She gazes past her hand and ‘lifts her heart’ while Adrian mimics her lines and body direction, as a proper partner must do, whether his arabesque is à terre as Adrian’s is, or en l’air – an oft-forgotten element is the matching turned-out position of the supporting foot on the ground. The man’s hands on her waist must be strong without pinching, and he must be able to support the ballerina in her balance over her standing leg in such a position that he can guide her as she rises sur la pointe and he can promenade her (pivot her on her toes around in a circle) without her falling over or wobbling.

The authentic recipe for Thousand Island dressing: 1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise, ½ cup Heinz chili sauce, 1 tbsp finely chopped onion, 2 tbsp finely chopped green bell pepper, 1 tbsp finely chopped pimiento. (Recipe courtesy of Coit Liles, Captain and Ballet-Master, Île du Cerf.)

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