A Whole New Kind Of Swan Arms
I have a serious weakness for great swan arms. When Odette pulls off smooth ripples outwards from the center of her spine through to her tips of the fingers, it gives me chills. Because I know how crazy hard they are to do well! Swan arms can take hours of practice and many varying ways of thinking about the movement. I’ve even watched top ballerinas continue working on them over and over in rehearsal—even after already having performed the ballet dozens of times.
Which is why my mouth literally dropped open in awe watching Lil Buck perform The Dying Swan at Fall For Dance last week. (He improvises it every time, but you can catch a similar clip here.) This hip hop riff on the iconic Fokine ballet was brilliant from start to finish. But what particularly caught me were his arms. They were fantastically swan-like, but completely different from anything I’ve ever seen in classical ballet. Memphis Jookin (Lil Buck’s style) has a very particular convergence of lightening-fast fluidity and held resistance that creates amazing visuals with the body. Sometimes the movement is so quick and quirky it almost seems like an optical illusion.
I’d recommend that any ballet dancer learning Swan Lake should watch Lil Buck’s version, not necessarily for imitation, but definitely for inspiration.