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Rethinking Ballet Class - Dance Magazine

Tulsa Ballet company members practice morning pliés. Photo by Francisco Estevez. Photo taken from Dance Magazine article link above.

Many of us teachers have been discussing for some time the purpose of ballet training outside of a classical work and I'm thrilled to see the conversation presented in a widely circulated publication. It's overdue to see that ballet training is a tool, the first step towards obtaining freedom of artistic expression. For most dancers ballet class is a method of conditioning the body. Accessing the greatest range of motion, getting in touch with the subtleties of movement, the precision of balance, and the generation of momentum. At least this is my view of it. The article possibly questions the usefulness of barre work. The work done at barre is for developing individual components of dance movement. When stepping away and entering the center the challenge of balance is then added. The article mentions a study of the work done by the supporting leg at barre versus center. Of course the leg works more at center, now the challenge of balance is present. Barre is the warm up so to speak. It better prepares the dancer for the next challenge. If barre work was shortened or omitted all together then a dancers body might possibly not achieve the same level of articulation nor gain access to their maximum range of motion. I think that what may be missing from many ballet classes is the explanation of why the exercises are being done. What their purpose is and to give the dancer a goal. No one should be expected to mindlessly follow instructions. Intention is everything and the teacher should be the inspiration and mentor who cultivates the artist.

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