Breathing is a key component in ballet and learning how to use your breathe in a meaningful way and in combination with your "allongé" will help improve your musicality and artistry. Below are several ways in which breathing will add to your ballet practice and performance.
"Never underestimate the power of allongé! All too often I see allongé being used just to lower the arms but rarely do I see it actually used as a breath! A real living preparation to a movement has to breathe! Give your allongé more meaning and use it to also prepare your legs."
So what is an allongé? From the french allonger the word translates as "to draw out" or "make longer". In ballet this refers to an extension before or towards the end of the the movement in which you "should" take a breath. So why is this to important you ask? First and foremost it helps to prepare for the exercise ahead and the tempo. We all know the arm preparations at the start of exercises such as plies or tendus, this is you using your allongé. The breath holds the carriage of the arms "port de bras". Different tempos have different ways of preparing for them. This in turn helps us to really breathe within the exercise. Conditioning the breath within exercises will help you to find it again in variations and choreography. Allongé helps us to stay musical. This is vital in corps de ballet work, as a way to communicate, it helps you follow each other without fully watching the dancer next to you. Instead you feel each other move and are able to move as one body (corps - french from the latin corpus translates as body). This is also true when dancing pas de deux as it help the couple move together as one. The use of allongé will be of great importance when performing on stage, as an effective way to calm the nerves.
We cannot dance without the breath just like living!