What Does Port De Bras Mean in Ballet?


Port de bras is a French phrase that is used to describe the arm movements in ballet. It literally translates to ‘carriage of arms’, and is an integral part of the stylised technique of ballet. In this article, we will look at what port de bras means in ballet and how it is used to create beautiful and graceful movements.

What Is Port De Bras?

Port de bras is a combination of arm movements that are used in ballet to link steps together and create longer, more flowing movement sequences. As with all other aspects of ballet, port de bras has been highly codified over the centuries with specific arm shapes being assigned to various steps or transitions. These include such things as circles, curves and angles, which are all designed to create a certain aesthetic within the movement.

Why Is Port De Bras Important?

Port de bras helps to add an extra layer of beauty and elegance to any ballet performance. By using these stylised arm movements, dancers can create a more expressive performance that conveys emotion as well as technical skill. The arms act like a frame for the body, helping the audience understand what is happening on stage even when complicated steps or leaps are being performed.

How Is Port De Bras Used?

In many cases, port de bras is used as a transition between steps or jumps in order to help link them together into one continuous movement. For example, if a dancer was performing a pirouette (a spinning turn on one leg) they would use their arms to prepare for this jump before taking off from the floor. This would involve raising one arm up above their head while maintaining another curved shape around their torso with their other arm – all while still managing to keep their body balanced on one leg!

What Are Some Examples Of Port De Bras?

The most common example of port de bras is the arabesque – where both arms are extended out behind the body creating a straight line parallel with the ground. Other examples include circles (where both arms move in circular motions), curves (where both arms curve around each other) and angles (where both arms move away from each other in opposite directions).


In conclusion, port de bras means ‘carriage of arms’ in French and refers to the specific arm movements used in ballet technique. It helps dancers create beautiful and graceful movements by adding an extra layer of expression and linking steps together into longer sequences. Examples of port de bras include arabesques, circles, curves and angles.