It is a well-known fact that ballet is the most difficult style of dance to practice and requires the use of muscles that the average person would not even know existed. The isolation of the different parts of the body to perform the ballet combinations correctly is extremely difficult to understand mentally, let alone physically, which obviously makes it a very stressful art form. I have always been very intrigued by ballet: according to the terminology, why this part of the body goes here without letting this other part of the body move, how properly standing in fifth position is one of the most physical activities. toughest ever, and pretty much everything about it. I’m also the type to call myself a failure if I don’t do something right the first time around, so in all my years of ballet lessons I’ve always been very difficult to teach (sorry to all the ballet teachers that I ever had to be such a kid !!). Although ballet is an art form almost impossible to perfect, it forms the foundation of any style of dance and sculpts your body into its best form, essential for any performer of any facet. I wasn’t quite sure why the trim at the front of the coupe for a million and four points at the bar would help me make hitch kicks in “Seventy-Six Trombones” until this summer, when I did team kicks in “Seventy-Six Trombones”. (Look what I did there ?!)
I was the dance captain for a production of “The Music Man” in the Berkshire, Massachusetts area, and we were playing a “real Broadway program”: eight shows a week with two days of shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The sheer adrenaline of doing this classic show with classic choreography got me through the rehearsal and tech process and our first week of shows. I hadn’t been to class in a while, but I was still in good shape to perform the dance numbers. It wasn’t until the middle of the second week of performing that my body started to feel tired. It took me forever to get out of bed in the morning and I was starting to feel lethargic on stage. I knew it wasn’t because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and stretching before each show, but my stamina was decreasing and I needed to understand why.
The following Wednesday I went to an open ballet class at Jacob’s Pillow with a few of my cast mates, and it was honestly the best thing I could have done. I knew I was going to be rusty since I hadn’t always been to class that summer, but at the end of the class I felt every muscle working as it should have been, and with my body reintroduced in those muscles, I was able to finish my two shows that day with a lot of energy. During the course I applied corrections that I had heard most of my dancing career, but for some reason that day I fully understood why they were important because I knew my body had them. need to complete the show. I am grateful that this was a ballet class that improved my physical being and not physical therapy after a performance related injury, and it was a highlight in my coaching teaching to always be tolerant and open-minded in future ballet lessons because to sustain eight shows a week, you need ballet.
The rest of the run I did a ballet barre before every show, and now every time I take classes outside of my college nine out of ten times it’s a ballet class. Ballet not only made me a smarter dancer, but it improved my posture and taught me to hold myself more confidently (which is a must for any actor-singer even if you are not. not dancer). Even if you don’t pursue a career in dance, ballet training teaches discipline, punctuality and the determination to try something new, and in this career you have to be fearless. So the next time you think about skipping ballet, you might trade that missed class for a physiotherapy session for an injury you get later.