the journey to paid professional performing artist

me as Giselle

It’s like medicine for some, therapy for others.  However you look at it, it is necessary.

You hear of people dancing without it.  To have a long and successful professional career, ballet is the foundation.  There are always exceptions, don’t think they are you!

Ballet aligns the body like no other form of dance.  Because of its very clear framework in which the body must move in order to create the correct poses, it strengthens the core and back muscles like nothing else.   Never mind giving you strong hips, legs and feet, gorgeous port de bras (arms), the list goes on.

You’ve also heard that in order to break the rules, you must know the rules.  Ballet is the rule.  All the jazz and modern styles are breaking those rules, either with positions or weight placement.  In order to be able to do all those crazy moves, you have to know how to get yourself back to stable when you’re done.  It takes strength and knowledge of your body, which is what ballet gives you.

I remember Christopher House teaching a ballet class at Toronto Dance Theatre, a modern company.  He said, “I can’t work with you if you don’t have proper placement.”  That’s pretty strong.

In the two summers that I have been attending the Rockette Summer Intensive, each year the dancers ask what they can do to prepare so that they can get into the Rockettes.  Part of the answer is always daily ballet class.

For me, ballet is medicine.  In Crazy four You we dance so much jazz and tap, and the Follies Girls character is to stick out the chest and butt.  If I didn’t keep up with ballet, I’m sure my back would start to give out.  I need that strength to hold myself straight while dancing.  And the strength to hold the untechnical positions without hurting myself. 

Ballet terminology is used as a universal frame of reference.  Our Crazy for You choreographer uses it to let us know what body directions she wants us in.  If you don’t know ballet terms, you’d have no idea which way to face.  And how many of you have been in a modern or jazz class where you did plies and tendus in the warm up?  Any Luigi or Limon student should be raising their hands right now 🙂

So I am so glad that when I was four and wanted to tap like Shirley Temple, the only dance school in town would only let me take ballet to start.  If I hadn’t had that foundation, who knows where I would be now!

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