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What is ballet?

An artistic dance form performed to music, using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. Classical ballet, which originated in Renaissance Italy and established its present form during the 19th century, is characterized by light, graceful movements and the use of pointe shoes with reinforced toes.

Why should you learn Ballet?

#1. To understand your body better

No matter what your dance focus, you need to know your body. The structured, methodical approach of ballet training encourages you to learn about anatomy and your own strengths and weaknesses. This wisdom will stand you in good steed for other dance styles, sports and life in general.


#2. For excellent posture and grace

Ballet dancers are known for their graceful presence and fabulous posture. Even if you stopped doing ballet years ago you probably still get strangers asking if you’re a dancer – and who doesn’t like that? And grace isn’t just physical attribute – it is can also be a facet of your personality and demeanour.


#3. To build strong, lean muscles

Training correctly in ballet can help you develop lean, non-bulky muscles. You’ll develop strength which will stand you in good stead for other dance styles and sports, even if ballet isn’t your number one focus.


#4. To give you a good grounding in technique

Ballet technique is not exclusive, but forms the basis of other dance styles too, particularly jazz, lyrical and contemporary. When you break down movement, there is not a lot of technical difference between these vocabularies – the difference comes more in the quality and the stylistic elements.


#5. To give your other dance styles that extra polish

Yes, take ballet to help your ballet technique, but ballet can help with other dance forms, as well. Dancers who are classically trained always stand out from the crowd as looking extra polished, with super clean technique. Articulation of the feet and legs, placement of the hips and alignment of the spine are all things that ballet focuses heavily on and can carry through to your other dance styles, particularly contemporary and jazz.


#6. To understand traditional repertoire

Ballet has such a rich history, dating back to the 15th century courts of Italy. Technique and style has changed hugely over the years, however the artform itself is preserved through not only teachers passing on knowledge, but through the reproductions of traditional repertoire. From romantic ballets such as Les Sylphides, to the quintessentially classical Swan Lake, to the neo-classical masterworks of Balanchine, each piece of repertoire holds an important piece of the history of not only dance and art, but the world in general. Learning and appreciating some of this repertoire will add depth to your career as an artist, whatever your focus.


#7. To learn a little French

Pas de chat, en croix, battement frappé… ballet terminology is important not just in teaching you the names of the steps, but in understanding the quality of the movement, which will enrich your understanding and your performance. The bonus? You get to learn at least part of another language, which will come in handy more often than you might think.


#8. To better appreciate music and rhythm

It might appear that ballet music is all soft and mellow, but in fact it can be incredibly complex in terms of rhythm, structure and quality. A good background in ballet – and also the character element of traditional ballet training – will help you to better understand these elements of music and how to use them to enhance your dancing in any style.


#9. To do better in auditions

Ballet-trained dancers not only stand out technically in auditions, the fact is that many auditions will begin with a ballet barre. Even if it’s not a classical job you are going for, you may be cut straight away before you even get to show your strengths – so make sure you have at least a basic grounding in ballet technique.


#10. To be swept away

Yes, it’s hard work, and arguably the most difficult dance style to master, but ballet can also be the most magical. There’s a reason why the general public are so fascinated with the artform – it’s elite athletes doing the most incredible things and making them look effortless. Don’t weigh yourself down too much with the pursuit of perfection – sometimes you just need to allow yourself to be swept away in the beauty, the tradition and the romance of the movement and the music.

Here are some video clips of what Ballet looks like...