Expressivity and Anatomical Integrity of Port De Bras through Functional Awareness®

Presenter: Nancy Romita, Senior Lecturer Towson University; Allegra Romita, Adjunct Faculty NYU Steinhardt


This session presents the relationship between spinal integrity and expressivity of the arm in port de bras. Honoring and understanding body structure leads to personal agency and integrity of action. Dancers often address rounded shoulders or inaccurate proprioception of arm lines by examining the shoulder, elbow, or arm. This presentation contends the necessity to examine the integrity of the axial skeleton (skull, spine, ) in relationship to the many functions of shoulder and scapula.

Participants learn applications to improve expressivity in port de bras through tactile and verbal cueing strategies that ballet educators can employ during technique class. Research in functional anatomy and motor learning support the movement strategies provided.

The methodology used in the presentation is a somatic practice in embodied anatomy through reflective practice called Functional Awareness. The session introduces anatomical visualizations for dynamic alignment of the axial skeleton and methods to discern actions of the arm to enhance port de bras. Participants will also be guided through cueing and communication strategies influenced by the research on growth mindset by the Harvard research team of Ronald Ferguson et al. (2015) and Zeynep, Barlas & Obhi (2013). The values of the Functional Awareness method are to promote acceptance, honor individual difference, and develop integrity of spirit using educational prompts that develop growth mindset and personal agency through dance training.


Nancy Romita

Nancy Wanich Romita (MFA, RSME, M.AmSAT) is a dance educator and author. She is co-author of Functional Awareness: Anatomy in Action for Dancers published by Oxford University Press, and she provides continuing education workshops for both dance educators and professional dancers to enhance training and performing skills. Ms Romita is Senior Lecturer at Towson University ( and director of Alexander Technique Midatlantic Teacher Training. She was served on the faculty at SUNY Purchase, American Dance Festival, and the 92nd St. YMWHA in NYC. Ms Romita is co-founder of Functional Awareness® ( She is former Artistic Director of The Moving Company from 1993-2001. Her research has been presented at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, National Dance Education Organization, CORPS de Ballet International, Alexander Technique International Congress and keynote addresses at MDEA, NYSDEA, and the BETI Somatics and Dance Conference. Her second book co-authored with Allegra Romita and published by Oxford University Press released in January 2019.


Allegra Romita

Allegra Romita (MA, CMA, RYT) is Co-author of Functional Awareness Anatomy in Action for Dancers. Allegra is on faculty at NYU Steinhardt in the Dance Education Program. She is currently pursuing a second graduate degree in motor learning and control at Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC. Since 2011, she has been performing with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances in NYC and currently is the Artistic Visioning Partner with the company. Allegra’s passion for somatic investigation led her to certification in Laban Movement Analysis through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Her research has been presented at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, NDEO, CORPS de Ballet International, and keynote addresses at NYSDEA and the BETI Somatics and Dance Conference. Her second book co-authored with Nancy Romita, entitled Functional Awareness and Yoga: An anatomical Guide to the Body in Reflective Practice released by Oxford University Press in January 2019.