A penche is a beautiful and graceful ballet step in which the dancer must raise her leg in a high arabesque while lowering the upper body near the floor. It is a difficult move because of the high level of flexibility, strength and balance required to execute a penche. The penche won’t look correct unless the legs create a perfect 180 degree split, which takes a lot of leg flexibility and strength. Adding the requirement of holding your balance on top of all this can make for a wobbly penche, but if you work on strengthening your core and increasing your leg strength and flexibility, your penche will be flawless. Check out these valuable tips on how to improve your penche.
Obviously, the first thing you need to achieve a perfect penche is solid leg flexibility. For many dancers, even having the splits flat is not enough to get their leg high in a penche. One of the best ways to increase your flexibility to improve your penche is to practice the oversplits. Working on the oversplits makes it easier for your hamstrings to handle the 180 degree position of a penche. If you haven’t use this stretch before, you can simply begin by placing your front foot on an elevate surface such as a dictionary or aerobic step while doing the front splits.
Having strong back muscles is extremely important for holding a penche in place. You need to engage your entire core while holding the position or you will collapse forward. The best way to improve your back strength is to work on holding your arabesque at the barre-hold it just high enough that you feel a slight pinch, and keep that position at least 10 seconds before releasing. Working on certain yoga poses such as the cobra can help as well.
Let Go Of Any Tension
This sounds like an obvious and simple tidbit, but you’d be surprised how many people hold too much tension in their legs and feet while holding a penche. This is one of the easiest ways to drastically increase the height of your leg. A lot of dancers tend to hold the most tension in their toes, of all places. What helps most is to take deep breaths when you’re in your penche, and trying to transfer the tension in your leg to your core. Sometimes engaging in positive visualization while in the middle of your penche can help as well-picture a perfect split in your mind, and think of looseness. This should help to divert your focus from putting tension into your legs.
Center of Balance
You may have amazing flexibility and strength, but if your center of balance is thrown off, your leg will still look lower than it should. Several dancers have the tendency to hold their weight in the heel of the standing leg when executing a penche. This tilts back the line and makes the leg look much lower. Also, this tends to create a very wobbly looking penche and can lead to falling out of the position. Be sure to always hold your weight on the toes of the standing legs-this can really make the difference in your penche if you already have great flexibility.