Here's Why: Ballet

We often get asked by students, "Why should I take ballet?"

Here is why:

Dear Students:

We know. Sitting at home watching the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance and movies such as Black Swan, Center Stage and Step Up, is inspiring. It's mesmerizing. It's enough to get you all fired up and ready to move and create! We encourage those who have been inspired by such performances to find a local dance studio and sign up for a class. But here is what you must remember: Ballet training is so important to dancing! What tugs at your emotions in a contemporary piece, is what's beneath the surface: the ballet foundation that dancer has. What dazzles you with high kicks, and speedy turns is the ballet foundation.

Taking ballet is equivalent to taking your vitamins: It must be done in order to be a proper and complete dancer.

If you are only allowed to take one dance class: BALLET! Ballet, in all of its "routine" and "boring-ness" (as we've heard in reviews of ballet class) will reach deep down into your soul, work its way through all of your muscles, and bring out a new person: a stronger, more prepared, more balanced/centered/focused dancer. And how, exactly, does ballet do this?

Ballet is similar to conditioning. It's a beautiful, flowy art form, but when you become more involved, you suddenly see that ballet is work. It's hard. You sweat. You fail. You succeed. You try again. You push. You pull. You hold on. You fight. Ballet is a constant battle between the current body you're working with, and the body that is in progress. You push yourself to new extremes. You require of yourself focus, determination, and mental sharpness. You work in and around music, space and time.

It's hard. We will never tell you that ballet is easy. We will also never say that you've perfected it. We never perfect ballet. Ballet is always and forever 2 temps levés before us, but that's part of the drive and fascination that comes with: 1) Ballet 2) The desire to be the best dancer you can be.

Need proof as to how ballet serves as a foundation for dance?

7 Movements of Dance:

1. Plier ["to bend"] / Demi-plié ["half-bent"] is a shallow bend (in all positions but second, as far down as you can go without lifting the heels off the floor); grand plié ["big plié"] is a deep bend, down to where the thighs are almost horizontal. In all positions except second, the heels release from the floor in a grand plié.

2. Étendre ["to stretch"]: A generic term for various movements in which the leg is extended and then returned.

3. Relever ["to rise"]: A movement in which the heels are raised off the floor.

4. Sauter ["to jump/to leap"]: A jump, straight up, starting from fifth position with one foot in front and landing in fifth position with the other foot in front.

5. Tourner ["to turn"]: A complete turn on one leg.

6. Glisser ["to glide"]: A connecting step. Start in plié; move the right foot out to pointe tendu; then move onto that leg, closing the left foot and landing in plié. Can be done in any direction.

7. Elancer ["to dart"]: A jump from one foot to the other foot, throwing the working leg out.

These movements make up our "dance movement" vocabulary. Yes, there are shades of color, creativity and difficulty to be added to each, but at the base of it all... remains our 7 movements. It's how we talk about dance.

So, students: We know there will be days when you don't feel like doing ballet, make yourself. We know there are days when it will be "routine" and not send your spirits soaring. But the truth is: The more you dance ballet, the more you uncover its beautiful mysteries and benefits. You'll carry your ballet with you through every style of dance.

Trust ballet. It won't let you down.

With respect,

Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

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